Uptake of digital technology is accelerated by COVID-19

The adoption of digital technology in the maritime sector will be three years ahead of previous estimates.

We’ve witnessed the rapid adoption of technology by the maritime industry since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now a new report sponsored by satcom provider Inmarsat highlights the massive impact Covid-19 has had on shipping operations in accelerating global shipping’s digital journey.

The report sponsored by the Inmarsat Research Programme, ‘A Changed World: The state of digital transformation in a post-COVID-19 maritime industry’ captures a sector fast-tracking IoT-based solutions from November 2019. It characterises COVID-19 as a “universal disruptor and catalyst for digital transformation”.

Some of the key findings include:

  • The adoption of digital technology in the maritime sector will be three years ahead of previous estimates by the end of 2022
  • The pandemic drove an extra $675bn of retail trade online in 2020
  • 1 in 20 ports worldwide sped up their investment timeline in digital technology
  • Average daily data consumption per vessel increased from 3.4 to 9.8 gigabytes between January 2020 and March 2021

Commenting on the report Stefano Poli, VP Business Development, Inmarsat Maritime said, “Digital solutions are now pervasive in maritime, and one consequence of COVID-19 has been that our customers – and their customers – increasingly think digital first.”

From our point of view, we’ve also seen a substantial growth in new customers over the past 12 months, driven by rising demand for cloud-based technology since the pandemic and the need for shipping companies to access high-quality data and analytics. We now have a portfolio of over 100 clients globally. In particular, growth has been strong in Asia, with several new clients coming from Japan and Korea.

Our customers realised quite early on in the pandemic that there was an urgent need for cloud-based technology and also video technologies like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype to enable employees to work productivity remotely and for their businesses to keep going.

This led to a rapid rise in new customers for our cloud-based system, Cloud Fleet Manager (CFM) because the technology is easy to set up and use, affordable and allows data to be stored centrally and accessed by any employee wherever they are based.

Several customers have told us they have improved communications, automated their processes, and are benefitting from accessing really good quality data from across their business which is improving their decision making.

We are also helping companies digitise their processes and set up their systems in a way that ensures they can access this ‘good data’ – data that is consistent, high quality and can be used for reports and provide insights into key business areas such as risk management, maintenance, purchasing or finance to support decision making.

The Inmarsat report highlights just how important data has become with their findings on the uptake in consumption.

One of the ways we’re helping customers is through Microsoft’s Power BI which is now integrated into CFM to offer customers analysis of their operational data. This is a business analytics service which allows data from multiple sources to be pooled and analysed in a central place. It includes interactive visualisation tools and business intelligence capabilities and enables users to create their own reports and dashboards.

There is so much potential for shipping companies to access high-quality, insightful data to improve their current and future decision making. Our clients using CFM PowerBI Integration can now analyse all kinds of data and include data from external sources to create interactive reports which can improve their business performance. Using this kind of data - the possibilities are unlimited.

The journey to digitisation isn’t over for most maritime companies, but the challenges presented by Covid-19 have fast-tracked their digital adoption. For an industry that was for so long hesitant to embrace technology, this has been a huge leap forward.

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