Companies such as Grab, Alipay and WeChat have led the super app charge, paving the way for different enterprises and industries to capitalise on the many benefits of all-in-one-experience and a unified platform approach to service consumption offers. 

And whilst unification is a key advantage of a super app, their true value is also in their ability to comfortably simplify the user experience across all of our internal and external day-to-day activities on a single device.

Where did super apps come from, well it all started in Asia with the rise of apps such as WeChat, which was initially designed as a pure messaging solution, then Grab came along as the ride-hailing service, followed by Alipay, the payment services app. As each company expanded, they rapidly grouped various services together under a single roof, and by default are now platforms. Some industry experts would say, they have effectively become operating systems of their own.

So, exactly what is the secret sauce of a super app design? 

Simply put, yesterday’s portal that converges virtual products and services under one roof is the Super App of today. 

The trick is they must meet with current day user expectations:

  • Includes a marketplace of products that can be quickly purchased
  • Drives partnerships and industry ecosystems
  • Open SDK’s and API’s to drive multi-layered data exchange
  • Driven by personalisation and big data analytics
  • Provides a mobile-first experience with built-in collaboration tools

Question is, can a super app be designed to work over satellite networks, and will the maritime industry overcome the adoption barriers associated with using such a modern and centralised, single interface and touchpoint. The revolution is already underway.

Challenges for Maritime and Remote Crew 

Some of the major challenges that the maritime sector faces, particularly shipping companies in trying properly implement their broader digital strategyies and initiatives include:

  • Bandwidth constraints onboard 
  • Modernisation of legacy IT systems
  • Cybersecurity 
  • Cost v ROI
  • Human adoption of new technologies

At present collaboration and productivity between ship and shore teams, for everyday activities such as reporting engine faults, ordering supplies, sending an email, or automating a navigation report, and completing various compliance forms, tends to largely still be dependant upon traditional means and methods, where modern tools and apps could be devised and adopted. 

However, as legacy systems across vessels and head offices are retired and new ones deployed, the number of user interfaces your teams and customers interact with will only keep increasing. In fact, an explosion of such solutions is taking place, leading to heterogeneity in user experiences. This leads to further adoption challenges. Most times, the difficulty with such tools not being compatible with Satcoms is another major challenge.

Revolutionise Operations and Improve Customer Loyality

The opportunity to converge solutions enabling companies to bring various workflows, processes, and people together into a unified platform is a game-changer for Maritime. Especially, when it is designed with the aforementioned qualities of a modern Super App, combined with efficient communication protocols for Satcoms and offline experiences, the ecosystem of solutions can jointly leverage the efficiency of online and offline advantages. 

Adopting a Super App approach to bringing a variety of services, teams, and workflows together into a single platform and app experience means nobody needs 6 or seven systems. Be it for crew welfare, Shift rotation, e-learning, field maintenance, QHSE, fuel orders, payment transactions, or for front to back office customer support, providing users with access to an al a carte menu of on-demand and contractual services is a powerful way of driving digitalisation to improve operations and profitability.

The key benefits of taking a super app approach to digitalisation include:

  • Cost benefits – reduced Opex and increased sales revenues
  • Convenience – the shortest route to actionable outcomes
  • Improved user experience – a uniformed approach to service consumption
  • Faster time to market – a marketplace to expand your supplier footprint
  • Reduced churn – improved employee and customer engagement

Do SuperApps have a place in the low business bandwidth world 

The continued rise of consumer demand for super apps and their platform of services across the hyper-connected world, has served to strengthen their positioning, ensuring super apps will remain deeply rooted in the consumer’s and business’s everyday lives. There is no question of the transition, it is already taking place.

Maritime solutions and service partners have already taken the decision to invest in digitalisation to achieve improved productivity and efficiency. The race has started, with many firms already headed in the right direction by digitalising crew welfare, IoT, navigation, support, and operational workflows. An opportunity exists for them to streamline user consumption by unifying services into all-in-one platforms.  

In this new experience age, satellite companies, ship managers, service partners, and manufacturers will undoubtedly be looking inwards asking themselves, whether they want to become develop a super app or become part of the marketplace platform in order to ensure they remain competitive and remain relevant to their customers and employees.