We talked to Arai San, CEO at Synspective, about synthetic satellite data, and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Arai San: I appreciate the question. Currently, remote work makes up to 95% of my work arrangements. This situation has given me a net positive benefit. Although I don’t exercise as much as before, I am so happy to have more time to spend with my family.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Synspective.
Arai San: I spent a big part of my career as a freelance consultant focusing on social projects. I combined my background in academic research and business development to tackle the big challenges that developing countries face. In this journey, I got to realize that data-driven management plays a key role in this process. As a result of my professional trajectory, I got introduced to satellite data technology, which I fell in love with and adopted as an appropriate means to leverage the power of data in the decision-making process at all levels: governments, institutions, companies, and individuals.
How does Synspective innovate?
Arai San: Two factors drive innovation in Synspective. The first one is the nature of our core technology; radar systems in small satellites and data science with satellite data. The second one is the diversity of our members. Different countries, backgrounds, and careers join together to create insights and drive innovation.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Arai San: The pandemic has had an impact in 3 areas. First, the supply chain for the satellite development has obviously been subjected to more volatility but well-prepared project management has greatly reduced potential risks. Second, regarding service development and sales, it has been easier to open new leads and potential customers, but tougher to close negotiations due to the limitations that digital tools have in trust and credibility building. Third, although remote work was promoted before this crisis, teaming up turned out to be challenging at times because of the distance.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Arai San: Daily decisions have been taken to keep business operations healthy and protect our members. The biggest lesson I learned from the last 12 months is that the scientific and data-driven approach provides not only confidence to make better decisions and improve it more but also a sense of control and reliability that is much appreciated in these times of uncertainly.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Arai San: At the pre-pandemic time, we already had provided digital tools and software that help the members to keep in touch and ease communication as much as possible. I have pushed myself and promoted team members recently to exercise compassion and patience to put ourselves on everyone’s feet and try to alleviate their concerns and anxieties.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Arai San: Although there are other SAR satellite operators and data analytics companies out there, we focus on becoming a champion in an expertise domain: risk management, infrastructure, and construction. Other firms in our space are developing vertical expertise in other fields and all together can create an ecosystem of partnerships to help elevate sustainable development.
Your final thoughts?
Arai San: COVID-19 has accelerated sustainable development. We, like societies, have got a good reason to promote decentralization, it’s infection risk under pandemic. A centralized system works very well so far with considering economic efficiency, environmental treatment, and safety & security. However, we have come to realize that centralization may not be ideal for sustainable development through getting the new criteria. This crisis has provided a different perspective to development where decentralized systems could potentially be an alternative to urban development, distributed energy generation, and other infrastructure elements. And of course, I believe that our new service with satellites can contribute to achieving them.
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