Shipping companies, supply chain, logistics firms and ports the world over, are digitising processes. This effort improves accuracy and provides data which, when used effectively, can digitalise workflow and outcomes and bring enormous benefits. These are the objectives for Maritime Informatics, but it is not a transformation which occurs without a plan.
Is it worth the effort?
Most reading this will have no difficulty in listing companies which have made a success of digital transformation in other domains and brought us benefits such as new ways of doing things, greater levels of service, efficiency and sustainability. It is definitely worth the effort, in fact many say businesses cannot survive without it.
There are some who do it well, but what separates them from others? There are still many companies who have trouble getting their digital revolution to spin. According to a “Why IoT Projects Fail” report from Beecham Research it has been estimated that nearly three quarters of all digital projects aren’t considered a success.
That is a rather worrying figure given all the time and resources invested in such projects. It is clear digital transformations are not straightforward. Amongst the key reasons for an apparent lack of success are around issues such as poorly defined strategies, unclear objectives, technical complexities and legacy culture and applications.
How to make digitalisation work for you
We believe there are 5 key issues to consider when it comes to safeguarding the transition into a Maritime Informatics environment.
- Lead from the front – Digital transformation is about understanding not just the company, not just the client base, but the direction of travel of an entire industry…and perhaps even society too. A lack of leadership may be a serious threat to successful digital transformation as it can result in legacy and inertia ruling the day. There are reasons why incumbents rarely disrupt their own sectors. Strong leadership by senior leaders, connected to internal project managers, means that good results can come from flattening the management structure. Set clear goals, KPIs and even bonus-drivers for the successes of digital transformation. In the past new technologies have often been introduced to companies through the IT department, and while that may still be the case on a micro level, the macro view of digitalisation has to come from the CEO down. What this immediately does is change the whole process from an IT issue to a business one.
- Know your business objectives – Ask not what a digital transformation will do to you, but of what it can do for you. A digital transformation can bring a wide range of benefits. However, with so many options and with pressure to out-innovate competitors, many companies start their digitalisation journey without setting clear business objectives. That is a massive mistake. Poorly defined goals are likely to end in failure. Don’t start with the technology, start instead with the business value you want to achieve. Set the parameters of change, and go for them.
- Digitalise as you go – Often another mistake is in trying to do too much from the start, and companies transform the entire business at once. Suddenly something goes wrong, and they realise that they have overstretched but are in too deep. Costs spiral, more expertise is needed, they force together incompatible systems or concepts, and suddenly the operation looks more like a bag of point solutions than a great technological leap forward. The advice is to think big, but start small and move fast. Suddenly the modest changes will have an impact and can be rolled out faster. By avoiding the temptation to over stretch, then all can be kept on track.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel – The digital revolution has been moving forward apace for a number of years now. While shipping has perhaps been a little behind the curve there is a potential advantage in this. The message is to look at others, see what has been done, understand what has worked and what has failed, and more importantly ask why.A key piece of advice for anyone digitally transforming their business is to resist thinking everything should be developed in-house.
- No plan, no data, no decision – Harnessing the power of visualisation anytime, anywhere, on any device is a glorious vision. But adding analytics makes the project an actual game changer. It may be relatively easy for companies to overcome the technological hurdles of data collection, but if they then fail to build systems capable of using that data to drive business forward, then it has all be for nowt.
According to Google, between 60% and 73% of all data within an enterprise goes unused for analytics. Unless you build a system to tag, clean, process, refine, store and model data for specific purposes, and combine it into new formats, you won’t transform your workflow and decisions by turning your data insight into impact.
So, what’s your next step? StratumFive would be pleased to talk you through the options, the challenges and the way we can propel your digital journey.
Stay connected and safe.