Businesses, governments and other organizations worldwide were on track to spend more than $4.5 billion on drones in 2018, IDC estimates. That demand won’t plateau anytime soon, with spending continuing at a compound annual growth rate of 36.6 percent through at least 2021.

The catch? When technologies are this new and this hot, enterprises typically struggle to identify the use cases and navigate a bewildering array of products and vendors. And they often do it with a panicky sense that they must deploy the new technology as soon as possible or risk a competitive disadvantage — a rush that can lead to the wrong choices and a dismal ROI.

Drones are no exception to that rule. That’s why CDW spent the past year putting together a comprehensive suite of vendor partners, training programs, support services and more.

Ways to Maximize Return on Your Drone Investments

Drones are like PCs: The hardware choice is important, but don’t overlook the software, services and other adjuncts, which can make or break the ROI and total cost of ownership.

One CDW partner, Intel, will launch its Intel Insight Drone Data Management software in early 2019. This will provide the capability to track changes between inspections. For examples of how energy companies, photographers, firefighters, wildlife researchers and others are using drones, check out the company’s online magazine, iQ by Intel.

There are also myriad accessories, many of which are unfamiliar to first-time drone buyers. Take cameras: CDW can identify the right resolution, gimbal, protection and damper to meet unique requirements and environmental conditions.

CDW also partners with leading manufacturers of enterprise drones, such as DJI and Yuneec in addition to Intel. These relationships allow us to recommend the unique solutions that meet each customer’s specific needs. For example, DJI has an affordable model designed for K–12 schools that want to add drones to their STEM programs.

Training is a must-have for any organization. That’s why CDW developed online coursework to help employees get certified under the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 rules, which govern commercial drone use. And in early 2019, we’ll begin partnering with Unmanned Vehicle University, which offers onsite training including tips for maximizing the business impact of specific drone models.

Learning from Drone Success Stories

CDW also has a growing library of resources — in agriculture, construction, oil/gas, public safety, education and real estate, with more on the way — to help organizations understand how peers in their industries are already using drones.

For example, some first responders use drones to livestream video to a command center. That saves time, and potentially saves lives, by quickly pinpointing where to send officers, firefighters or emergency medical technicians — and where not to send them in case conditions are too dangerous. First responders also used a drone to drop a life vest to a person at risk of drowning before a boat arrives.

It’s a lot to think about, which highlights the importance of choosing an experienced, connected partner to help navigate the options and make the right choices. Otherwise, you’re flying blind.

Visit CDW.com/DronesVR to learn more about emerging drone and virtual reality technology.

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