By Ryan M. Hartman, Insitu President and CEO
When I joined Insitu in the spring of 2010, I was amazed and inspired by our focus on the “Pixel-by-the-Hour” or Performance-based contracting business model. Dr. Sliwa, who was the CEO when Insitu adopted this business model, spent many hours with me explaining how it worked and the importance of it, as well as the challenges and risks associated with it. It was amazing to see how we had built a company around the concept of selling pixels, rather than the hardware that collects them. Everything we did was focused on the delivery of high-quality information and services to our customers.
One of the first customer meetings I attended was an evaluation of a new sensor we were working on, the MWIR (Medium Wave Infrared) 2.0 nighttime sensor. We had developed this sensor and were fielding it at our own expense. Having joined Insitu from a large aerospace and defense company, this was a new experience for me. I have witnessed companies moving fast, and taking risks, and investing in new technologies, but this was different. We were fielding a new capability completely at our own risk. We had no assurances that the customer would accept the new capability, let alone pay for the imagery it collected.
However, consistent with our successes up to then, not only did the customers accept the capability, they started ordering more sensor hours. Before we knew it, our hours flown at night were equal to our hours flown during the day…essentially doubling the sensor hours at that site. Other customers soon followed suit.
This experience was paramount to my personal journey at Insitu. I learned that our balanced focus on reliability and capability would consistently be rewarded by our customers; Insitu therefore repeated this process over and over again.
After a few weeks at Insitu, I had an opportunity to attend an abbreviated UAS operator’s training course. Attending this course brought our success into a whole new light for me. I learned that although we fielded incredible technologies, and that we were constantly innovating new technologies, it was the people that made all of it work.
My experience in my first few months at Insitu solidified for me the importance of our greatest asset, our people, when it comes to our Pixel-by-the-hour business model. Our operators in the field genuinely care and recognize the importance of our mission. They recognize that they are deployed to make a difference for our customers. We have received numerous letters, emails, and other forms of accolades from customers around the world that consistently affirm that the Insitu team exceeds customer expectations, which sets us apart from our competitors.
The level of performance displayed by our deployed operators extends all the way back to the teams here in the Gorge and our other locations around the U.S. Whether it be the teams designing our technologies, the teams building our products, those who train our operators, or any other function inside of Insitu, they do their jobs with a sense of purpose. That purpose being driven by Insitu’s Why statement – Inistu exists to pioneer and innovate in all that we do so that we positively impact people’s lives and change the course of history.
It’s our nested sense of purpose that also drives innovation. With today’s ISR Services business, not only do we have an opportunity to iteratively innovate and introduce new technologies to our customers, but it’s required to remain competitive. While we maintain a dynamic technology portfolio that keeps us competitive, we also differentiate ourselves through an invaluable and unbeatable resource: our people.
Our resolve to maintaining a level of service that our customers now expect is unwavering. The stories that are shared only underscore the importance of the work we do. These stories of success and positive impact drive us to do more; to be pioneers in all that we do – in designing and growing the next generation technologies and people.
This commitment doesn’t come without its own unique challenges. We are fortunate to not only execute ISR Services contracts. We have two programs of record with the U.S. Department of Defense. Executing programs of record is very different than executing services contracts. It’s easy to allow compliance on programs of record to influence the execution of ISR Services, however we strive to keep these separate to ensure that end users can continue to benefit from rapid technology insertions that are possible through UAS Services contracts.
As we grow, maintaining a high performing team has remained a priority. I have written about culture in the past and maintaining culture in the midst of growth. These same concepts apply to our team of operators. Insitu’s culture embraces the passion and dedication of our deployed teams. Maintaining and strengthening our culture therefore creates an environment that allows for our team and customers to thrive.
As I enter my seventh year at Insitu, I am humbled when I see the progress our team has made in providing actionable information to our customers through cutting-edge technology and unwavering service. When I look to the future, I see a growing team that is grounded and focused, with a bold vision for innovation and continued dedication to our customers.
With new technology releases on the horizon and an expanding global presence in our ISR services, I know that our people remain our foundation for success. Our team will continue to provide UAS Services for our customers, supporting each of their unique missions and improving with each challenge we face together. It is our willingness to attempt the impossible and learn from each challenge that always has and always will set Insitu apart.