Shipping split over digitalisation

Shipowners are divided over the impact of digital technology on the industry over the next five years.

Stena Bulk chief executive Erik Hånell told Lloyd’s List on the sidelines of the Danish Maritime Forum that technology would transform the industry. Increasing digitalisation will create greater transparency, giving everyone access to information and ship movements, he said.

This will be a major change in the way of working, he suggested. “The challenge is that I don’t think many people know exactly how things will turn out.”

These technological changes are happening rapidly, and shipowners need to be nimble to avoid disruption, said experts in Copenhagen.

Taxi company Uber is an example of technology transforming an industry. People can hire a taxi from Uber with the tap of a button on a phone, tracking where the driver is as they come to pick up. Started in 2010, Uber now operates in 68 countries and is valued at more than $70bn.

Shipowners need to be at the forefront of changes to monitor and identify where potential disruption to their businesses could occur, Hafnia Tankers chief executive Mikael Skov told Lloyd’s List. “You have to embrace these things.”

A contact echoed this, saying the shipping industry needs to work smarter, be less conservative and move towards a more asset-light business model.

However, despite increasing digitalisation in industry, CMA CGM vice-chairman Rodolphe Saadé reminded us that physical interaction with the customer was still important. “Face-to-face communication is essential to doing business all over the world,” he said. Digital innovation is also expensive, he added.

The importance of the physical aspect was supported by APM terminals chief executive Kim Fejfer. Food, waste and energy all still need to be transported as the global population grows to 9bn by 2050, underlining the physical aspect of the world economy, he added.

Predicting how the maritime industry will look in five years is fraught with difficulty, said Mr Saadé. “It is difficult enough looking at tomorrow,” he said.

 

Credit: Lloyds List. Read the full article here: http://bit.ly/2f47yiT

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