Data from IDC Research Inc suggests that global data generation from all sources is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 21%, reaching 221,000 exabytes by 2026. That is equivalent to filling the storage capacities of 442 billion 500GB laptop hard drives every 12 months.
In the maritime sector, generated data includes information related to position, speed, heading, fuel consumption, weather conditions, cargo status, and other operational parameters and a significant amount of commercial data related to trade flows, supply chain logistics, and market trends. Many maritime businesses use this data to optimise operations, improve profitability, and stay competitive in the global marketplace.
Back in 2018, research indicated that only around 1% of the data generated in the maritime industry was used for decision-making, leaving vast quantities of valuable data to expire on servers with no value extracted from it. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digitalisation across the maritime sector and placed an intense spotlight on the value of data. Inmarsat statistics on commercial shipping data exchanged over the company’s satellite network showed that data consumption nearly tripled from 3.4 to 9.8 gigabytes between January 2020 and March 2021. Over a similar period, the proportion of shipping companies actively using data analytics to drive decision making increased from 7% in 2017 to 26% in 2020.
Research from McKinsey & Company supported this analysis, estimating that data generation in the global shipping industry would grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30- 40% up to 2030. Despite rapid increases in data generation, the EU maintains that 80% of industrial data still isn’t used and estimates that creating the conditions required to encourage this data to be shared will create an additional €270 billion in EU gross domestic product (GDP) alone by 2028.
There are significant growth trends in both the amount of maritime data generated and the amount of data being used to inform decision-making, but there is still some way to go to bring the industry to an ideal state. A recent S&P Global Market Intelligence survey canvassed over 900 supply chain respondents from 85 countries. The results showed that while data played an important role in more than 9 out of 10 supply chain operations, the industry faced significant challenges in integrating, sharing, and accessing the data they needed. This reflects both the importance of data to the supply chain and the need to share and exchange much more of it.
Data generation is growing exponentially across industries, including maritime. While data usage is increasingly widespread, there remains significant untapped potential, with estimates that 80% of available data goes unused or untapped currently. Encouraging responsible data sharing through emerging data-as-a-service models can help extract more value across business lines, supporting improved operations, profitability, regulatory compliance, and overall maritime sector competitiveness on the global stage. Ultimately, the S&P survey validates the increasingly critical role of data in global supply chains today but also highlights the clear need for enhanced data integration frameworks, more open yet controlled data sharing mechanisms, and equalised data access across maritime sector participants going forward.
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.