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Human capital will make the difference in digitalising maritime

Human capital will make the difference in digitalising maritime
Gary Howard | Mar 24, 2023

While the technology takes the headlines, talent will be the driver of digital acceleration in maritime, according to an industry panel.

Speaking at CMA Shipping 2023 on Connecticut, a panel of experts discussed digital infrastructure and agreed that effective implementation and creative development of digital tools will rely on attracting the right people into the maritime sector.

Sid Probstein, Advisor, OrbitMI asked how the maritime industry is working to attract the talent it needs in the digital space at a time when tech layoffs are commonplace.

“Calling them up and saying ‘we need you to transform maritime’ isn’t going to work. They need platforms to work on, they need machine learning advances to work on, they need interesting projects to work on, they need data to work on. Where's the Kaggle of maritime? That's how to get them engaged,” said Probstein. Kaggle is an online community for data scientists and machine learning specialists run by Google.

“They'll come here, they'll create companies that target these problems, because that's what they do. And they'll marry up, join up, meet up, right, connect up, create ecosystems with the maritime people who know what to fix.”

Evangelos Efstathiou, CEO at Skysail Advisors sees maritime as a good candidate for steady, incremental improvement in its digital infrastructure rather than ripe for a miracle.

“I don't believe in what I like to call the west coast or Silicon Valley model of 'build the unicorn'. I like to build stuff that people can see and think ‘that's useful. I'd like a little bit of it… I'd like little more,’ and then you go the next thing. I really like that approach. I've seen it work. And that's what we're applying in maritime,” said Efstathiou

Raal Harris, Chief Creative Officer, Ocean Technologies Group said the industry in any cases lacks the expertise to interpret the data it is putting out. “With IoT we've got this huge volume of data points now that we're creating. The problem is, most companies don't have anybody that can actually interpret that data, get to the bottom and work out what it's actually telling them.

“It's not unusual to see 60-70% of data go unused. Kate Adamson has this great quote that not only is the data dead, we're spending a fortune tending the grave.”

AI holds the promise of reducing the time burden of overlaying data sets and consulting with customers, taking all the data and telling you what your next best decision is, but is still emerging technology.

Companies should not put off investment in technology until the next thing comes along, but instead be prepared to keep advancing and upgrading without fear and without leaving it to the last minute, said Cynthia Worley, VP of Strategic Accounts, Worley.

Eric Griffin, Vice President, Offshore Energy and Fishing, at Inmarsat stressed the savings and efficiencies still on the table within the industry right now, and the work needed to demonstrate those potential improvements.

Deploying VPS’ Maress system, backed by Inmarsat’s FleetData system, “within the first six months, we found that the vessel would, with a few minor tweaks, operate 10% better than its baseline operating model that had been in place for years.

“In addition to that, in the first year, they saved greenhouse gas emissions of 9%, the second year by another 10%. That resulted in an additional profitability of the vessel between 10 and 15% per annum. So there are opportunities out there,” said Grififin.

Griffin said this was a one-ship example, and the client is now in the process of rolling the technology out across their fleet.