Juraj Siska, IdeaNova, hanging out with his dog when he is working from home.

What We’re Made Of is a Q&A series that looks at how companies in the aviation industry are tackling challenges brought on by the COVID–19 pandemic. We’ve had to adapt to changes in where, when and how we work, but we are resilient. If you would like to share your experience, e-mail editor@apex.aero.

Juraj Siska
CEO, IdeaNova Technologies
Location: Naperville, Illinois

Day 50 of working from home
Date of writing: May 8

Are you in lockdown right now? 
Yes, shelter in place was mandatory in Illinois and has been extended. Illinois is on the verge of becoming the last state to open.

Where are you writing from?
Home office with occasional visits to our regular office.

How are you trying to maintain “business as usual” or communicating with your team?
Our team is still engaged inmorning stand-up meetings and sharing updates via video conferencing. We are no longer using Zoom but our own Intouch video chat program, which is integrated in our Inplay IFE player.

“We should be looking at more affordable IFE solutions that deliver content to personal electronic devices, which are single user-based and therefore more sanitary.”

Have you or anyone you know been directly affected by COVID-19?
None of our coworkers here in the US were affected. My cousin, who lives in London, has successfully recovered from COVID-19.

How are you passing time?
I have been watching some reruns of the Chicago Blackhawks’ 2010 season and Last Dance, the miniseries about the heyday of the Chicago Bulls.

Describe where your business was at the end of 2019. What were your goals/projections for 2020?
We had a big product release and were continuing to look for additional clients in the in-flight entertainment space.

How prepared was your company to instate remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic? Any tips on how to remain productive under these new circumstances?
No one expected this level of economic downturn. From the productivity perspective, we were prepared. Most of our infrastructure is cloud-based and with our new Intouch product, we feel we can collaborate efficiently. The challenges are not being able to see each other or have casual conversations with teammates.

What’s one thing you would do to better prepare your business to weather a similar storm in the future?
More diversity in our customer portfolio.

How can we, as an industry, work together and rebound from this unprecedented crisis?
I believe we will overcome this crisis as people want to travel. Flexible business arrangements will help us to bridge this gap temporarily and come out stronger and better prepared for the new wave of travelers. We should leverage this time to work on the projects that we might have neglected because of other priorities.

How do you feel about your government’s response to the crisis?
I believe the measures are adequate to save lives in some places. We need to start looking at how to kickstart the economy again. We need more discussion about the steps we need to take to get people back to work, which should be gradual, observing all safety measures. Testing should be a big part of it. Without a healthy economy we won’t have healthy people. There’s no amount of government assistance that can replace the open market environment, definitely not in the long run.

Where do you see your company or the industry in six months from now? One year?
My hope is that we will rebound faster than the three years projected earlier. From the IFE perspective, we should be looking at more affordable IFE solutions that deliver content to personal electronic devices, which are single user-based and therefore more sanitary.

What’s one thing that will never be the same again for commercial aviation?
We always placed passenger experience first and that will be highlighted in the new era of air travel. Giving passengers reassurance and making them feel safe will be everyone’s priority.

Read more about the coronavirus impact on the air travel industry, including APEX’s position on the matter, and subscribe to the APEX Daily Experience newsletter to stay up to date.