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Are you dealing with a deluge of data?

When it comes to voyage informatics is it possible there is too much data? It’s time to consider the impact of a data deluge on companies who aren’t quite ready for it. 

Making the jumps from analogue to digitisation, to digitalisation is not always just about acquiring more data, it is also about how we use it and share it. This can mean companies, who have traditionally kept themselves and their operations to themselves feel forced into connected and collaborative environments. Something which we have discovered isn’t always an easy feat for a traditional shipping company to deal with. 

For ship owners, operators and managers to share and plug into the maritime eco-system, to embrace “interconnectedness” involves getting different departments, people, technologies and an increasingly diverse range of stakeholders on the same page. That is a challenge and an opportunity.  

Our experience is the challenge is being overcome as the transparency of operational data and benefits of collaboration become apparent. That said, there remains a fear privacy will be lost for no commercial gain and we’ll get a doubling down on things that aren’t delivering. 

Tough market 

The shipping industry is a tough and often adversarial marketplace to test new concepts. There have to be very strong use cases to ensure voyage informatics is understood, properly rolled out and meshes with the increasing demands of the wider supply chain and the environment.  

Strategic planning around data acquisition, digitalisation objectives and connections, are the foundations of what makes voyage informatics work to generate efficiencies. Providing space to bring voyage data and stakeholders together we see information shared and then we see collaboration. 

Collaboration can reduce waste, pollution, carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency. It does more though, it can enhance decision making, as companies have the situational awareness, information and data to make the right calls for all the voyage stakeholders.  This environment is very far from what has gone before. 

What we see and what is published, is the basic concept of voyage informatics is sound, it is ethical, sustainable and can bring such clear and obvious commercial benefits. Alas, perhaps what goes unseen is the experience of not using or applying it properly. 

Applying Analytics 

Shipping companies are increasingly keen to apply the latest analytics methods to generate wisdom and value. Where in the recent past this was perhaps just the two or three big liner firms, the desire for data extends deep down through the strata of the industry.  This is positive and real progress.

We cannot expect to see smart supply chains and ports if we still have dumb ships. In the past some have made the mistake of trying to glean anecdotal correlations from big data. This has not worked as there has been little or no measurable value, and insufficient buy-in from various parts of the business. While others have the right attitudes and hunger throughout the company, but suffer from poor connections into the actual operations.  

When the anticipated outcomes do not deliver, the enthusiasm falls away. If the commercial returns aren’t boosted, blame shifts to the data for not delivering. 

Bad Data

We should not jump to blame the data or digitalisation. This is not about “bad” data, but about misunderstanding and poor processes. The potential wins are lost when we just have data furring up the arteries of a business in silos.  

Without a means of connecting what is collected, then it is hard to do the right thing. However, without doing the right things, then the whole process falls over. People get frustrated, investors twitchy and seafarers demotivated. 

Effective digital transformations are not about a deluge of data, not just about gathering all we can find. They are about using more, and using it better. In doing so we have to answer the right questions, prove value, and take the process from insight to impact. The danger is that in misunderstanding what we want, need and can harness, then we apply too much or too little. We gum our operations up, or we see them fall apart. 

It is vital data is part of a solution, not the answer itself. The results that shipping need rests on our foundation of facts and a means of all parties using, sharing and ultimately benefiting.   

What To Do? 

There are three key aspects of the digital transformation. We must:

  1. Answer the right questions – Please do not waste time and investment answering the wrong questions. We must look at the actual benefits and opportunities that data will bring. We must set the parameters of success, what it is, how it looks and what it will do. For example, reduced fuel use, fewer accidents, punctuality, increased revenue, better charterer experiences, these will help to create a solid foundation to drive the change.
  2. Prove the value – As with any change, it is vital to be able to measure progress and show success. Once decisions have been made, and the budget or investment sorted, then each step of the process must be supported with data. This is where data governance plays a key role – identify measurements from the beginning and track them consistently. Not only will the metrics show the overall progress and success of the changes, but they will serve as digital waypoints along to ensure that the process is delivering and effective in practice (and not just in theory).
  3. Shifting From insight to impact – The questions have been answered, the value measured, but there has to be that point at which data and the insight it brings becomes operational knowledge which can make an actual impact.

At Stratum Five we are experts in helping our clients make the changes they need to embrace the changes that they want. Speak to us about how we can make a difference when it comes to your digital transformation.

Stay connected and safe.

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