How to improve the rate of digitalization in the maritime sector

05 September 2018 by Vigleik Takle
Today, most managers will agree that the advantages and opportunities offered by digitalizing are of such significance that not digitalizing is out of the question. Yet, in the maritime sector, only a few early adopters have started the journey of digital transformation. Why is that – and what can we do to improve the rate of digitalization?

The maritime industry is facing a host of challenges, from overcapacity, low margins and regulatory pressure to low efficiency and new digital demands from customers. Digitalization in all its shapes – from the use of artificial intelligence and autonomy to digital platforms and big data – is in all likelihood the best solution to most of these challenges. As an added benefit, it offers a wide range of new business opportunities.

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Why aren’t all maritime organizations digitalizing?

It seems clear to me that digitalization increasingly is considered the do or die of individual organizations. This has triggered digital transformation in many other industries. But in spite of a host of software providers for the maritime sector, and a myriad of software solutions covering everything from advanced vessel performance to basic administrative tools, the maritime sector is holding back.

Why is that? No doubt, I think, because the biggest challenges in connection with digitalizing the maritime sector has not yet been dealt with.

READ OUR WHITE PAPER: The Maritime Software Landscape 2018

What challenges is the industry facing?

As I see it, the following challenges are among the most important to solve:

  • Modern vessels are rarely connected to the internet. But to gain any real value from the solutions that have been developed for the maritime industry, they need to be – and maybe even have certain sensors installed. This is a huge extra cost, and the potential benefits of a solution will only rarely make up for this.
  • Even when the vessels belonging to an organization are all connected and able to provide the data needed for any kind of digitalization, the raw data in and of itself won’t be enough. To be useful, the data must be consolidated and structured, a complex process, and one that most independent organizations are seldom equipped for.
  • Add to this that internet-connected vessels also introduce cyber threats that may cripple an unprepared organization and reduce its credibility to tatters, I am not surprised that the challenges of digitalization make many organizations hold back.

Although the challenges are very real, they are not insurmountable. A single organization or software provider, however, cannot solve challenges on this level on its own. The industry must start collaborating and sharing on an entirely new level.

An open ecosystem can speed up digital transformation

In my view, an open digital platform is the best way to address the challenges that are holding the maritime industry back. The following are just a few of the many ways using a digital platform will help drive digital transformation:

  • It provides customers with a solid ROI on their investment. This is the result when multiple vendors use the same data infrastructure, enabling platform customers to use the same dataset for an array of different applications.
  • It improves cybersecurity greatly because all applications and services use the same infrastructure. The platform also facilitates standardization and implementation of new IMO regulations to improve security further.
  • It ensures cost effective collection of data and heightens data quality by enabling consolidation of data, making it structured and actionable.
  • It serves as a sandbox where customers and partners can test for instance new products and business models.

Most importantly, the open ecosystem encourages and ensures collaboration among the industry players and the software providers. In this way, it provides solutions for the challenges that is currently delaying digital transformation.

Would you like to learn more about this topic?

A digital platform helps the maritime industry prepare for the future and makes a major digital transformation likely to happen.

In our report, Maritime Software Landscape 2018, we take a closer look at the details of the maritime software landscape, including the drivers for higher adoption of new applications. If you would like to know what it will take to make maritime digital transformation really pick up speed you can read it here

About the writer
Vigleik Takle
Vigleik Takle is Kongsberg Digital’s Vice President and Commercial Manager Maritime. Before joining Kongsberg Digital in February 2018, he served as Chief Operating Officer in Cxense, a high growth SaaS company. Vigleik holds a Master of Science in industrial economics and engineering management from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). His goal is to help customers tap into the tremendous value that lies in better use of data.