The need for a digital ecosystem in the world of Maritime

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With the digital awakening of the world, speed has surpassed size in terms of value and necessity. Customer loyalty has become old news. The modern consumers are more quality oriented than brand oriented. They would go where they will get quality products and valuable experiences, at speed.

As customer-centricity has become the primary focus of businesses and industries worldwide, conscious and meticulous efforts are taken to offer what the users want. As an estimated 89.5% of global trade is carried by sea, the ability of businesses to deliver ‘quality at speed’ largely depends on the maritime industry.

The maritime industry has been treading the digital waters quite slowly, with digital solutions deployed in chunks and pieces. A true digital transformation entails a core transition in people, processes, and tools. Digital transformation is not about using advanced technologies. Rather, it is about shifting the cultural mindset, infusing adaptability, and promoting process efficiency.

Despite the uphill battle with the decade-old recession, maritime industry still has not recovered entirely. Digitization brings the opportunity to emerge completely out of those clouds and sail under a shining sun. By leaving the legacy paper-based processes behind, the industry can leverage from the new revenue streams opened by digitizing principal functions of route planning, freight forwarding, voyage operations, fleet maintenance, and customer support.

With the advanced digital technologies of IoT, augmented reality, big data, and cloud, the probable future of the shipping industry will be characterized by unmanned voyages, real-time vessel tracking, smart capacity management, dynamic freight rates, cargo management, and digital documentation. In the present landscape of every industry, the question of ‘to digitize or not’ directly corelates to ‘perform or perish’. The conventional paper-based methods are slow, tedious, time-consuming, and error-prone. Digitally modifying these processes is imperative for stevedoring the maritime industry on the vessel sailing toward success.

Legacy methods are the anchor holding the shipping industry back at the port of inefficiency

Speed and efficiency are the most challenging as well as business-critical goals for maritime industry. While the customers expect rapid deliveries, the shipping industry is tied down by manual activities, cumbersome documentation, and complex protocols. Digital technologies can facilitate interconnectivity while improving business productivity and streamlining customer handling processes.

The slow economy has had tremendous impact on the shipping sector. With the dip in demands, the industry is struggling to stay afloat with non-ideal freight rates and meagre profit margins. A significant portion of time and investment go into training and deploying manual staff to handle cargo and shipments. The unplanned, first-come-first-serve policy of slot allocation on a vessel leads to severe inefficiencies in capacity management and revenue loss.

With IoT devices sprawling their dominance and automation and AI becoming a reality, digital transformation will bring all the distributed pieces of maritime logistics under one cohesive umbrella. This will offer visibility and transparency in the end-to-end supply chain process while ensuring optimal costs and profits. As autonomous, unmanned vessels are being introduced, the shortage of skilled labor as well as the high costs of training them are mitigated. Leveraging big data and analytics, the maritime operators can deduce and predict logical allocation of slots. This will enable them to make an ideal use of the available space and capacity, while minimizing wastage and losses.

The impact of digital extends beyond the carriers, affects all the touch-points

Digital transformation of the maritime industry involves everything from shipping ports, terminals, warehouses, and the carriers themselves. The processes of stevedoring, wharfage, and transportation will be dominated by digitally-enabled devices.

Through digitization, maritime sector will be able to throw the factor of inefficiency into the sea. The probability of manual errors will be reduced to negligible. By linking every node in the supply chain and creating an inter-connected digital ecosystem, the risks associated with the loss of cargo and shipment non-traceability are averted.

By eliminating the dependence from manual resources as well as processes, the maritime industry can employ automated solutions that ensure shipment completion with utmost accuracy and faster speed. From end-to-end logistics to various port-to-port offerings, a digitally-enabled supply chain in the shipping industry will be able to channel more effective and optimized cost structures.

Establishment of a multi-modal collaboration platform improves communication between various terminals, liners, freight stations, as well as other intermodal companies. Having a seamless communication channel directly impacts the smooth movement of cargo.

To reach a port, one must sail

Frankin D. Roosevelt had said, “To reach a port, we must set sail — Sail, not tie at anchor — Sail, not drift.” Digital transformation might be a wave, but it is revolutionary in terms of its capability to drown the conventional, inefficient processes. The wave of digital transformation will carry the maritime sector toward the port of efficiency and quality, so long as the industry takes the first step and sets the sail.

Robert Squire, Director Thales Certus, aptly describes the state of digitization in the maritime industry – “The way the shipping industry is approaching digitization is very piecemeal and very reactive. They will only request solutions for specific issues they face at any particular point in time as opposed to approaching digital transformation in a more strategic, long-term approach.”

In order for the industry to create a holistic digital ecosystem that comprises automated processes, adaptable people, and sophisticated tools, it needs to get support of digital assurance. The fundamental requirement before starting the digital journey is to develop a clear vision and objective. After establishing tangible goals, the next step should involve making a strong commitment to adopt digital solutions within the organization.

A comprehensive, digital ecosystem should be architected with the backing of data-driven analytics to achieve the desired results. Change management should be taken seriously to mitigate and avoid any potential resistance from teams.

In Conclusion

Continuous testing and scaling is the practical way of achieving digital transformation. Having an optimal digital testing strategy ensures that once the digital transformation is set in motion, it proceeds with maximum agility. Thus, it is highly critical to check what is working, what needs improvement, and what should be obliterated.

Digital adoption requires a thorough and disciplined approach. By utilizing digital quality assurance services, maritime industry can guarantee a successful sail.

Cigniti’s Digital Assurance solutions address the multifaceted needs of digital testing. We strive to do this by conducting comprehensive testing across your digital value chain and the entire digital ecosystem. The solution draws on our vast experience in the digital domain and leverages our value-adding elements such as reusable test assets and in-house suite of testing tools and accelerators. Our Digital Assurance solutions transcend functional validation of Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud stack (SMAC) and encompass interoperability, network capability, performance, and security aspects. Connect with us today.


  • Cigniti Technologies

    Cigniti is the world’s leading AI & IP-led Digital Assurance and Digital Engineering services company with offices in India, the USA, Canada, the UK, the UAE, Australia, South Africa, the Czech Republic, and Singapore. We help companies accelerate their digital transformation journey across various stages of digital adoption and help them achieve market leadership.

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