Next week, we are attending TPM 2018, so this is the right time to dig deeper into the challenges of the digitization of ocean shipping and how technology can promote change, improvement, and innovation.
Clearly, the industry has a few significant problems. Most of them could be solved (or at least significantly improved) with digitization.
In this blog, we are looking at what specific challenges are the most burning ones right now for steamship liners, ports, terminals, shippers, and freight forwarders. Afterward, we will dig deeper into why digitization is the right solution and what technologies can save the day.
What are the challenges holding back the ocean shipping industry from digitization?
The ocean shipping industry has been traditionally slow to change. Today, it is still serving the needs of global trade with inefficient operations and processes.
Legacy systems, lack of collaboration, lack of data sharing, and EDI
When we are talking to executives working in the industry, these are the most frequent challenges that they are seeking a solution for.
Complex and expensive legacy systems are in the way of improvements, as they are restricting ports, terminal, shipping lines, and other supply chain stakeholders from collaborating better.
Of course, changing these systems is not a priority, nor should it be, but there needs to be a way to build better connectivity with all the partners. These systems are not only incapable of connecting to other systems or cloud-based applications but are also not capable of real-time information sharing. Sharing data is the cornerstone of the modern business, as it provides transparency and visibility into processes and operations.
Additionally, the industry lacks a common standard for messaging and it still heavily relies on EDIFACT that is too restrictive and does not promote easy data sharing. Connecting with partners and allowing them to access business-critical information also raises security concerns.
To better support the expanding global trade, players in the ocean shipping industry need to prioritize digital development. Transformation can only happen by adapting to new technologies and finding the right vendors that can support the digitization initiative of the industry.
This leads us to the core question: why digitization?
The first and probably most important benefit of digitization is improving connectivity across all parties in the supply chain, connecting carriers, carrier alliances, terminals, ports, shippers, and freight forwarders. is the first step towards better data sharing, thus all relevant stakeholders could have access to real-time information.
Better connectivity and data sharing can result in enhanced collaboration across the entire ecosystem that adds a layer of visibility to processes and operations. Industry stakeholders can plan their operations better, overcome supply chain inefficiencies, have more predictability, make better decisions, and ultimately improve gross margins.
Technology can have a significant role in the digital change
There are several emerging technologies and technology trends that the ocean shipping industry can utilize to improve operations across the value chain.
Big data and analytics
It’s not a surprise that there is so much buzz around big data and analytics. Businesses are generating more data than ever before. This data needs to be managed and turned into insights. The insights will help to improve collaboration with partners or optimize processes and create new innovative ones.
Better operations will have a result on the customer experience – you will be able to provide faster end customer delivery, more visibility into where the goods are moving, or enhanced customer support.
Overall, data and analytics can add a competitive edge to ocean shipping operations.
A lot of the processes of the industry are still done manually which is not only time consuming and therefore expensive, but also error-prone.
Automating manual processes and information sharing will save on labor costs, equip processes with more precision, and improves the accuracy of information.
It also means that you will have more control over freight management, freight costs, and risk management.
Automation will not only speed up and enhance your operations, but it can result in a significant ROI and cost savings on the long term.
The Internet of Things is another buzz term that you may hear everywhere. If the forecasts are true, by 2020 there will be about 30 billion connected devices. That means you’ll have to manage a lot of data coming from a lot of different sources.
You will be able to better monitor shipments, yards, and equipment, and you can improve the operations with the insights you gather from these devices.
Technology built on cloud platforms is gaining popularity quickly, and it presents an enormous opportunity for the digitization of the ocean shipping industry, too.
As the data that companies need to store, the cloud could be a good way to store the data. As the industry is geographically segmented, the accessibility of the cloud from any point of the world is also a benefit.
Transferring data between ships could be also handled in the cloud, as it is a secure way of sending and receiving information.
Stakeholders of the industry need to look for services, solutions, and platforms based in the cloud that could help them to overcome the barriers discussed above.
On our website, we talk a lot about iPaaS that can sound like a jargon for those that are less familiar with technology and are looking for fixing business challenges.
iPaaS is simply a catalyst for digitization. It’s a secure cloud solution for connectivity and data management. It can connect different systems and applications (whether they are on-premise or cloud infrastructures) to enable the information sharing between systems. It can also help with data management, such as translating the data, validating or enriching it for the best quality. Ultimately, it can help to automate and eliminate manual processes for efficiency. It’s also the right tool for gathering data from IoT devices.
If you are not yet familiar with some of the best features of iPaaS, make sure that you download our product sheet.