Maritime Software Landscape – March 2021 Update

2020 is behind us, and many have been waiting for the new year as if all the wrong things, pandemic included, would magically disappear on the first of January. Today, the world is still fighting Covid and dealing with the consequences of government decisions. Will 2021 be a copy of 2020 or not, and how the software providers for the Maritime Industry are approaching the future? Keep on reading to know more.

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In the past months, many web conferences, blogs and clubhouse app meetings have spent words and discussed if COVID has been really bad or, at least from a technology evolution standpoint, this has accelerated the process of digitalising the shipping industry. The large consensus is that yes, this emergency has pushed the whole sector to leverage more and more on new technologies and, therefore, accelerated the adoption of new tools. Still, even if accurate, we don’t think that this has in any way accelerated the process of digitalising the industry. In our opinion, zoom meetings and file sharing solutions don’t mean much. These are solutions already in use for years used to address the practical issue due to the Work from Home scenario, but none of these will bring real solutions to the fundamental problems, disrupt the industry or bring any added value to the various organisations.
For us, considerable progress in the digitalisation domain is achieved when companies will start changing the way they operate their ships, using data to drive decisions, and see these decision adding value to their business thanks to conceptually new products on the market.

So if we set aside zoom meetings, is there anything really worth to mention happening since our last update?

Singapore government, supported by ESG and the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA), continues to strengthen the country as the leading maritime hub, aiming to drive the maritime sector’s growth through technology and innovation. Many of the industry software suppliers were already based or had offices in the country, but in the last year, more than 50% of the new startups have been established in the Merlion City. New funds have been recently secured; therefore, it is reasonable to think that this trend will continue.

… more than 50% of new startups have been established in Singapore.

AI & Analytics
Digitalisation in the shipping industry started about 30 years ago with the computerised Planned Maintenance System, an ISM requirement and therefore business-critical for the various operators. For many years, software providers didn’t fully manage to convince the market of the advantages of their ERP systems, that in most cases, they have been limited to maintenance and procurement domains. This has changed in the last year, in fact, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) has proven to bring considerable advantages in other industries and is finally taking more and more space also in the maritime. This is a huge step forward because, ultimately, for the first time, we are seeing companies looking at technology to gain competitive advantages and not just as solutions to comply with new regulations.
Knowing this, most software providers are taking this as an excellent opportunity to deliver value and obtain profits. It won’t come as a surprise that the vast majority of startups are focusing on this area.

With the arrival of solutions focusing on the importance of data, it was time to address cybersecurity. For once, the chronic slow speed at which the shipping industry moves was an advantage; in fact at today, companies can rely on a multitude of global and local companies that could fully support the creation of safe infrastructure thanks to the know-how acquired in other sectors. Saying that, ships still have some very distinctive peculiarities and that the reason why since the last update in September, we have seen several companies specialised in cybersecurity for the maritime coming on the market.
Download our Software landscape and take a look yourself.

… for the first time, shipping companies are looking at technology to gain competitive advantages and not just reacting to comply to new regulations.

About the future
The pandemic may have created a sort of understanding in everybody that software technology will improve our resilience and ultimately benefit the business. However, in our opinion, this has not boosted the shipping industry, which is definitely moving towards digitalization but still at a relatively slow pace. What COVID seems to have impacted is the amount of new business created, also thanks to the supportive politics of countries such as Singapore. The above contributes to further fragmentation but, on the positive, will push suppliers to a deeper look into helping their customers.
Most of these new companies focus on new frontiers (for the shipping) such as AI and Analytics and are trying to replicate the clear advantages delivered in other sectors. As always, we are slowly catching up, but finally, we can see organizations making investments in this direction and not only passively reacting to regulations. This new technology will deliver, but most likely, we will see the results in the mid-long term.

As always we will be reviewing the situation again in 6 months from now, and check if the above trend will continue or some new exciting factors will come in play and disrupt the plans.

What next?
If you are a shipping company currently thinking to adopt new software, get in touch with us as we can easily support you through the whole process, from reviewing your procedures, finding the right fit for you to help you manage the solutions and making sure that this will work in perfect harmony with your already existing systems.

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Notes on the author
Antonio founded Indeets Consulting ltd. in June 2020 after 17 years of experience with SpecTec, one of the leading suppliers of ERP systems for the Maritime Industry.
Committed to the power of analytics and data-driven solutions, he has accumulated extensive experience working at close contact with Shipping Companies from all around the globe leading major technology transformation efforts. In particular, Antonio counsels executives on digital strategies focusing on obtaining the maximum ROI from any tool and a certain long term sustainability.

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