The current health crisis has accelerated the way in which the shipping industry operates while providing an opportunity to evaluate the areas where digital technologies can be rapidly adopted to streamline operations and improve crew welfare.  Solutions such as the FrontM Super-App are helping to shape new digital working practices and habits.  As many countries face lockdown strategies, it is clear, the maritime industry has decided that now is not the time to stand still. Many shipping organisations and service providers have pushed the reset button, they are rapidly pivoting and thinking big in order to transform the way they engage with their workforces, customers and business operations. They do so in a bid to match the digital expectations of the stakeholder groups that they represent.  Our main focus has been on helping these businesses to better understand the art of the possible whilst enabling them to support the immediate to long term post pandemic recovery needs of their customers.

How is digital acceleration impacting maritime businesses

The maritime sector is viewing the Covid-19 pandemic as a catalyst for digitalisation to accelerate product development from years to weeks. There has been a change in pace for technology introduction and adoption. Businesses are now looking to have more agile, collaborative and inclusive ways of working. Whether for container, bulk carrier, offshore, passenger or special purpose ships, it is clear that operators, seafarers and service providers have turned to digital channels to support every aspect of their customer operations and lives. Customer and workforce expectations are no longer focused on the experiences, instead they want the same level of experience across all platforms and they want it now.

However, digitalisation is just like any normal business change. It is important to think about both change management and the psychology behind how to make people change. This not only involves using a digital platform but also nudging people step by step to be able to become fully digitally enabled. Today’s emerging technologies are actively promoting the use, connectivity, greentech and automation for both the man and the machine which has resulted in modernising traditional organisational structures.

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Once lockdown measures started to be implemented, many seafarers were stranded at sea due to travel restrictions, there were also major business impacts. Many live training sessions had to be halted, data usage was becoming extremely important but was limited and expensive and shore to ship communication was being hampered.

Embrace digital transformation to avoid being left behind

Responding to this situation, a number of maritime organisations decided to accelerate their digital adoption to transform their operations and crew welfare strategies giving them the experience they expect and need. As an immediate relief to the crew change issue, granting seafarers access to the internet to communicate with their loved ones was considered a top priority. Some shipping companies started relying heavily on video conferencing and communication tools for remote learning and day to day life at sea. Small data was heavily relied upon by crews to perform ship management while digital engagement leads were used for good working practices and crew wellbeing.

To adopt and adapt to new technologies the ability to handle and share data is more important than ever. In order to embrace AI, Automation, API integration and more ‘greentech’, businesses must source, share and save data more effectively to capture trends and patterns beneficial to evolving the industry from its traditional ways. As Darwin would say, “ It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change” . Adapt today in order to thrive tomorrow and beyond.