How does a company keep track of existing customers and identify new customers while managing product lines and specifications within a system that will serve all parts of the supplier network?
That’s the challenge a global leader of maritime products and services recently needed to address. It has one of the world's largest, most comprehensive services network, supplying shipyards, owners, operators and management companies. Its highly recognized brands significantly improve customer’s operational efficiency.
The company’s product line includes marine equipment and products, port services, marine logistics, safety and refrigeration services and marine spares for the merchant fleet. Additional product lines include safety and environmental systems for new buildings, and retrofits in the marine and offshore markets.
Assessing Solution Requirements for a Global Network
As a large marine equipment company, it had a vast amount of data on customers that needed to be updated within a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database. The company needed access to vessel and company data in order to identify new customers for their products, to understand market trends, particularly at the early stages of ship ordering as well as keeping track of vessels for their after-sales activities. Its key objective was to understand and be part of the new building cycle in order to proactively present products and services to prospects. It also wanted a better method of aligning products and specifications with equipment aboard the correct ship. This had proved difficult due to multiple changes of name and ownership. To help keep records up-to-date, the global leader turned to IHS Maritime & Trade.
The company had a high degree of duplication of owner/operator names and addresses in the system, which was proving problematic when passing client information around the network. It was particularly difficult in certain areas such as the issuance of invoices. Thus one important aspect of taking a new data service was to ensure there was no duplication of vessel or company records. The company hoped to overcome this persistent problem by utilizing a unique ship/company identification number such as the IMO number.
Ultimately, there was a pressing need for structured data to support and validate customer records, keep track of which vessels belong to which companies, and identify new customers through analyzing new building activity, or using vessel characteristics data to identify specific vessel types.
The company outsourced the development of the new software for the CRM system to a company based in India.
Monitoring market conditions and appending the clients internal records to the IHS Maritime & Trade's ships and companies helped to tighten business processes within the client's organization.
Step-By-Step Project Progress
The next stage was to develop a data field specification for the data services they needed. After intense consultation with the IHS Maritime & Trade area sales manager, the company settled on a very large wish list of data fields spanning technical details and contact/address information.
Port callings data was added, via a quarterly bespoke data feed, as there was a need to track vessel trading patterns. The port callings information was then supplemented with IHS Sea-web™ which provided the client with a daily port calling view. IHS AISLive was added to view traffic density.
A contract was also developed to account for the number of offices using the data and concurrent users. The client decided to take a weekly update of the data to account for frequent changes. Finally the service was rolled out once the client and software house were confident they could accept a full initial data load.
After a few weeks, the system was operational and yielded positive results. Monitoring market conditions and appending the clients internal records to the IHS Maritime & Trade's ships and companies helped to tighten business processes within the client's organization. The client has been very pleased with the service and is looking at rolling it out to other business entities within the group.
The contract with IHS has been renewed for another year and the client is looking to supplement the data service with a daily delivery of data via the Web so that they can pull down ships and movements records on a much more regular basis, as and when they are needed. IHS is also investigating opportunities to help the client with a data cleaning exercise to remove duplicates.