“Collaborate, Innovate, Digitise” - Industry Leaders Offer Perspectives on the Digitalisation Wave at #DataccioConnect

Singapore, 8th May - When Saurish Nandi conceptualised the Dataccio Connect event, he did not anticipate the immense need and path-breaking ripples such a platform would create.

At the recently held event in Mumbai, the response from the industry was tremendous. While each session involved an expert from a specific domain offering insights into the digitalisation of the maritime industry, a key takeaway was the collaboration and discussion these sessions provided to delegates. Every sector of the maritime community was able to measure their progress along the digital journey by a parameter/yardstick - providing an opportunity for analysis on what they have achieved and what more they need to do. It also showcased how digital processes that were never thought of before could be applied to effectively increase productivity and generate revenue. These industry leaders were able to position themselves adequately on a digital map and therefore, chart a course for the direction their organisations need to take in order to fully embrace the paradigm shift the maritime industry is taking. 

The event highlighted the current and ongoing digital developments in the maritime sector and broadened the perspective of the delegates by introducing them to case studies wherein AI, Blockchain, IoT and Big Data Analytics have been applied and increased productivity. It widened the attendees reach and got them thinking about the possibility of out-of-the-box collaborations for the benefit of all parties concerned.

These were the highlights:

·       Saurish Nandi, CEO of Proternio Consulting and the mastermind of #DataccioConnect opened the event by underlining why a collaboration of this sort is imperative in the present scenario. He briefly touched upon how vast amounts of data can be handled to the benefit of stakeholders in the industry.

·       An insightful understanding of Blockchain through real world applications such as the JV between IBM & Maersk was then delivered by Sadik Ali from IBM.

·       What followed was DNV GL’s Lukasz Luwanski presenting an impressive session on the ‘Modernisation of Class’. It highlighted the bold steps this leading classification society has made with respect to the digitalisation of the industry.

·       Speedcast’s Duane Hand spoke about the strength the organisation has seen through collaborations in the past - paving the path for better connectivity and benefitting not just companies but also seafarers during their time away from home.

·       A key issue, 'cyber risk management’ was covered in great detail by the Indian Register’s R. Srinivas. He threw light on the importance of identifying risks and susceptibility in order to mitigate the threat of hacking - something that is a real threat right now.

·       The last session was delivered by Srikant Menon of Happiest Minds on the growing popularity and application of the Internet of Things across all industries. Through graphs and statistical analyses, he projected the benefits of embracing this technology to save on costs and productivity.

·       The biggest highlight of the day came through the panel discussion conducted by the distinguished Capt. Ninad Mhatre of Rickmers Shipmanagement. Having been one of the enablers that took his company towards acceptance of e-certificates, he has had a first-hand experience of the myriad benefits embracing digitalisation could bring. The diverse panel consisting of Mr. Kiran Shet from Maersk Tankers, Capt. Vinay Singh from Anglo Eastern, Mr. K Bharadwaj from IR Class, Mr. Sadik Ali from IBM & Mr. Lukasz Luwanski from DNV GL, allowed for an understanding of each industry’s stance where the switch to digitalisation is concerned. It afforded insights into the readiness of ship owners and managers to climb aboard the digitalisation band wagon and where the uncertainties and hesitations lie. 

The day culminated with a networking session that allowed for further discussions and collaborations between delegates and speakers. The general consensus was that the discussions were an eye opener for the whole maritime ecosystem - from ship owners/operators and managers to seafarers and vendors. The take home was the breaking of barriers and the future possibilities this digital journey will hold.

Expectations & Takeaways by industry experts:

Mr. Lukasz Luwanski of DNV GL spoke about his expectations from the event, “I would very much like to learn from the speakers and the audience about the temperature that we as an industry have when it comes to digitalisation, and digitisation also - the transition that we have made from analog to digital. I also would like to get a feel for the appetite for change in the maritime industry.” 

His sentiments post the event were, “One fascinating takeaway for me was that, we as an industry, are willing to cooperate - there were great vibes in the room, great vibes in the panel discussion and we had great engagement from the audience.” He went on to state, “we should be open to interaction with a broader shipping community, and also with companies from outside of shipping to get inspiration. I think the broader the participation, the better it is going to be for us in shipping - the more inspired we will be, because it is clear today that digitalisation holds many secrets.” 

Prior to the event, Mr. Kiran Shet of Maersk Tankers said, “The whole industry being here, I would like to see how each company or individual participants are excited about technology such as AI or IoT and how companies are gearing up to accept these.”

Post the event, his comments were, “There are a lot of possibilities. We don’t know what the future is but it will be very interesting.” He reiterated the willingness of the industry to embrace technology by stating, “if there are vendors that could provide solutions and offer technologies and ideas that could be implemented in our business and on our vessels, that would be really great. As professionals in the shipping industry, we attend a lot of good events but this one, that highlighted key technology aspects such as AI & IoT, don’t happen very often in the industry. I would definitely like to be a part of such events.”

On the expectations of a Dataccio Connect event, Capt. Ninad Mhatre of Rickmers stated, “the spread of knowledge and the awareness is right now lacking in the industry. We need to bring awareness so that those who are on the fence, will go ahead and invest in technology projects.” 

Post the event, he stated, “Today there was definitely awareness created because this was not a topic that was discussed in many of the conferences held here before. This is in a way a pioneering effort to share the experiences and the information that we have gathered towards this journey of digitalisation to wider audiences, to a diverse industry. We had participants not just from shipping, but from IT, from service providers - all of whom have a stake in this data collection and analysis.” He continued, “This is the first step towards creating that realisation and awareness that we cannot be complacent.”

After the event, Mr. Vinay Singh of Anglo Eastern commented, “what I realised is we need to have a common platform. You cannot work in isolation and we need to collaborate with various industry partners. This is something I never considered till today and is my biggest takeaway from this event. As far as IT is concerned, shipping is in a backward state and for us to learn more, we need to come in touch with people that are doing something in this regard”