Shipping transformation is a major issue, while shipping companies and stakeholders play a catalytic role in the whole development. Switching towards a digital company, it is important to understand and know the kind of the authority, the flexibility and what has to be done. Also, it is important to think of what a success looks like, to achieve it in the future.

2019 saw many smart highlights taking place, with the shipping industry thriving by improving the technologies and its environmental footprint in protection of the environment, representing a sector that still has a lot to give.

In line with developments, the smart era is here to stay, with shipping presenting more and more innovations, improving trade, safety and environmental footprint. Yet, to achieve the transformation needed, shipping companies should keep in mind the requirements required the transformation model, as explained by the Boston Consulting Group.

Three key requirements for an effective digital transformation

#1 Shipping companies will need to focus on introducing new business models to fit with today’s challenges, strengthen their communication with customers, expand portfolio and become more competitive in a highly dynamic market.

In particular, the Boston Consulting Group suggests that online booking platform will allow maritime organizations to improve direct relationships with their customers and attract new ones, while e-commerce platforms will expand their offering. In addition, real-time cargo tracking and on-board sensors that monitor cargo conditions can add value.

Digital is the main reason just over half of the Fortune 500 companies have disappeared since the year 2000. - Pierre Nanterme, CEO, Accenture

#2 Maritime organization need to digitalize the core business, meaning they need to adopt successful digital strategies to their current operation. This means that the interested parties can make use of the blockchain technology, gaining the chance to streamline and secure their documentation process, making procedures faster. The Boston Consulting Group provides 7 ideas towards that end:

  1. Use robust analytics to unlock dynamic pricing
  2. Utilize advanced analytics to minimize costs
  3. Blockchain technology can streamline and secure the documentation process
  4. Connected market intelligence allows liners to leverage the broad network of agencies
  5. Linking ERP functionality between liners and customers affords advanced capacity planning
  6. Tracking fleet activity for vessel performance optimization along with predictive maintenance.
  7. Exchange information between liners, terminals, and intermodal companies

#3 Shipping companies need to develop a robust internal digital foundation, helping companies lure the ideal digital talent to help the business develop, update the current systems. ‘’ Modernizing systems to take advantage of advanced data and predictive analytics enables growth-minded intelligence and decision-making capabilities.’’ The consulting firm adds.

In light of shipping’s transformation, Christian Vakarelis, VP Media Communications, Navarino, during a SMART4SEA Conference in 2019, highlighted that ‘’Recent technological developments highlight that we are living in an exponential world. By that, I mean that the pace of technological development is absolutely staggering and it’s accelerating rapidly.’’

In addition, digitalization presents new, smart ships which become sophisticated sensor hubs and data generators, enabling an increase in the volumes of data transferred between ship and shore, as Remi Eriksen, Group President and CEO of DNV GL has noted.

In the meantime, digitalization enables companies to monitor their fleet activity, by leveraging millions of data and on-board sensors, allows continuous routing and vessel performance optimization along with predictive maintenance.

Keeping up with technological trends

Except the requirements needed for the digital transformation, the maritime sector should keep in mind the 7 digital trends it has to keep up with, not to get lost in the evolution.

Additionally, in 2018, the Boston Consulting Group focused on the container sector of the industry, illustrating seven digital trends that will transform container shipping.

  1. E-platforms: They will improve shipping by offering an online booking, online cargo management and customer personalization;
  2. Advanced analytics: Offers network optimization, dynamic pricing, as well as empty container repositioning.
  3. Internet of Things (IoT): The technology provides vessel machinery monitoring and reefer container conditions monitoring;
  4. Alternative Intelligence (AI): E-service centers, dynamic capacity reallocation, predictive maintenance;
  5. Autonomous vessels and robotics: automated vessel navigation, automated port calls;
  6. Blockchain: E-bill of lading, payment automation and cargo insurance;
  7. Cyber security: Security assurance for customer data and security assurance for automated operations.