As digitalisation and data analytics reshape operations, the maritime industry finds itself on the brink of a substantial transformation holding immense potential. However, realising the full possibilities of this bright vision for the future faces acute challenges around fostering vital data sharing between organisations, dismantling entrenched cultural barriers to change, and surmounting perceived financial costs associated with this shift.
Data sharing between organisations is crucial for unlocking the power of data to drive improvements. Yet bottlenecks exist due to commercial sensitivities, lack of standards, and security concerns. Building trust is key, helped by data anonymisation and controlled access. Leadership from influential industry organisations can encourage collaboration, as can government incentives requiring consortium approaches. Ultimately, cultural change that enables openness and co-creation will be the most impactful driver.
Transforming established cultures presents difficulties. The maritime industry has deep-rooted practices built up over generations. While this instils wisdom, it can also stifle innovation. Top-down rhetoric alone rarely succeeds in driving change. Instead, leaders must connect cultural evolution to strategy by understanding how proposed changes impact daily working realities. Critical new behaviours should be identified and aligned with objectives. Expecting complete transformation immediately is unrealistic; incremental adaptation informed by regular feedback works better.
Engaging seafarers is vital when introducing digitalisation to operations. Shore-based solutions often fail as they are designed without consulting crew. Seafarers must become believers in the technology for it to succeed. More dialogue between ship and shore is needed, promoting purpose and understanding around digital tools. Designing for the human element is crucial.
Cost is seen as a significant barrier by many. Government grants incentivising consortium approaches can assist, although smaller players may need more resources to participate fully. However, studies show data technologies can provide strong returns on investment. Global companies will spend an average of $3 million each on data in 2023, expecting 81% ROI. For shipowners and managers, over 70% view cost reduction as the key driver for digitalisation. Nearly half forecast savings exceeding $1 million annually, with 15% predicting over $10 million.
Overall, data-driven transformation in maritime faces obstacles around data sharing, cultural resistance, and cost. However, mechanisms exist to overcome these. Building trust-based collaboration, engaging seafarers in change processes, and capitalising on the long-term value of data investments will smooth the path ahead. Despite challenges, great potential lies in harnessing data to shape the industry’s future.
The maritime industry stands at a pivotal moment as digitalisation and data transform operations. However, realising this vision is not without challenges. Data sharing barriers between organisations must be overcome by building trust and collaboration. Established cultures will need to progressively adapt, aided by engaging seafarers to ensure user-centred design. And cost barriers can be reduced through government incentives and an understanding that data investments provide strong ROI. Overall, though the road ahead has obstacles around sharing data, changing culture, and deployment costs, mechanisms exist to navigate these successfully. With concerted efforts towards openness, engagement, and long-term thinking, maritime’s data-driven future can be achieved, unlocking efficiencies and sustainability across shipping’s vital global supply chains.
For a more in depth understanding of the topics covered in this article, refer to our latest report titled ‘Common Interests; How the maritime industry can share data, collaborate with trust, and build a mutually beneficial digital ecosystem.’ This comprehensive guide benchmarks shipping’s progress on using digital solutions to collaborate on decarbonisation goals and shows how industry frontrunners are breaking down the technical, legal, financial and cultural barriers.