“So why is Digital Maritime Transformation so Complex, Difficult and Expensive?”



In contrast with other industries that have long ago fully adopted modern technologies and cloud/web-based solutions, global Maritime remains the sector in which Digital adaptation seems to have progressed the least. Some reasons can be found in:

  • Many different vessel types exist, all with different specifications, thus not allowing for standardization
  • Ships go to places where, especially in the past, internet connection was not possible, and if available it is expensive
  • Too many stakeholders are involved; Ship managers, Owners, Charters, Flags, Ports, Yards, Classification societies, Countries, Customs Coast guards, Crews, Manufacturers’ of equipment, etc. – many of which have different agendas/priorities,
  • The average age of people working in this industry is higher than other sectors
  • The younger & innovative generations are attracted more, by other industries, Technology, Software, Biotechnology, Telecommunications, than Maritime
  • A lot of old legacy IT systems exists, that are not easy to connect with
  • Shipping Management companies – the driving force in the shipping sector – usually had very small IT departments, that where more IT technicians rather than visionary business leaders
  • Although one has loads of technology at his/her disposal, the implementation is problematic, as usually most of these are never “Plug and Play”
  • Furthermore, many software products today only provide a partial solution and the word integration, (with the rest of the ship and shore operations, not to mention to other 3rd parties), is at best, a synonym to the word complication
  • While a plethora of different systems, exist in companies in the maritime sector, most of these systems are not connected between each other
  • Each company – and even each department within companies – didn’t (and some still don’t) share data internally -they work in SILO’s
  • Shipping produces a vast amount of data it takes a lot of experience and some experimentation to identify the critical and useful data sets
  • The manually collected “noon data”, from an array of on-vessel machinery & navigation systems, cannot be regarded as accurate data. The various different protocols and the sheer quantity of the data requires different process, IOT onboard
  • A philosophy of obtaining, using & sharing digitally data in industry specific platforms, was not at all common, until very recently. Some claim that keeping data to “themselves” gives them some competitive advantages
  • Attitude, culture as well as resist to change, in this demanding industry have led to compliance (which is positive), but also made the mentality of challenging the Status-qo, in this sector less, than in other industries
  • Fear. Some people when they hear that digitalization will bring autonomous ships, wrongly associate it immediately with unmanned vessels. This is not going to happen, at least in the next 5-10 years to the large oceans going vessels

Philip Nielsen

I believe that if we identify the key reasons that have prohibited Maritime to be the forerunner sector in digital Transformation, we might be able to “help” and make the Digital Maritime days come faster! As Covid-19 has dramatically impacted & drastically changed the world in a way that NOBODY could foresee just a few months ago, maybe is the event that will spark real conversion in the shipping industry and bring the –long waited, efficiency provider-, Maritime Digital Transformation.

Philip Nielsen, heads Oriani Ltd, an innovative Digital Maritime Transformation agency

Philip Nielsen, heads Oriani Ltd, an innovative Digital Maritime Transformation agency, that represents some of the best-of-bread providers of tech solutions for leading Shipping Companies, such as: Orca, 90PoE, HiLo and ShipServ.