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7 ways cloud-based data management will transform the maritime industry

08 February 2021

The maritime industry experienced a perfect storm in 2020, which highlighted the need for many participants to accelerate their digital transformation programs as they look to become more data-driven. The COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical volatility and cybersecurity breaches placed significant stress on marine transport channels and motivated the industry to find better ways of anticipating and reacting to complex and unpredictable events.

The ability to ingest and use data more effectively will be critical for adapting to a new way of working, but the increasing volume, variety and velocity of data create challenges. For example, recent research by the IDC analyst house found that more than a third of maritime and shipping organizations are seeing annual data growth of over 50%, while around three-quarters are seeing growth of more than 20% ( read the full findings here).

Before industry participants can embrace digital transformation, they must build a solid foundation of data management. Today, much of the industry still relies on legacy software solutions that have been implemented on-premise. To optimize their operations, they should consider migrating their data management capabilities to the cloud, where they can be managed on their behalf by a specialist third party. This will deliver a range of benefits that support true digital transformation, including:

Enhanced access and coordination

While data-sharing capabilities for air and land transport have surged ahead in recent years, the maritime supply chain still has some way to go, with valuable data often barricaded behind firewalls. The inability to share data across a myriad of interdependent participants who make up that chain is slowing response times and creating costly delays, inefficiencies and redundancies.

Transitioning data management to the cloud is the first step in creating more fluid or even real-time data exchanges with trusted partners and stakeholders across the broader supply chain, connecting teams onshore and at sea. This type of data-sharing can accelerate cargo hand-offs, dramatically improve utilization and reduce energy consumption. As global waterways become more complex and less predictable, organizations that prioritize visibility and responsiveness through data will be positioned to maximize profitability and mitigate operational risk.

Flexibility and scalability

Using the cloud offers the maximum flexibility and scalability. Organizations can scale up (or down) their use of the cloud as their needs evolve, ensuring they are ready to adapt quickly to any changes in their operating environments (whether tactical or strategic). This will lead to data and technology being an enabler of growth for the organization, not a hinderance.

Service excellence

One of the most valuable aspects of a cloud solution is the ability to leverage a managed service. This means utilizing the resources, experience and expertise of a specialist third party to manage the operation of your data management platform in the cloud on your behalf (including infrastructure, the application, change management and upgrades). This ensures the solution performs optimally and frees up internal resources to focus on strategic initiatives.

While access to reliable data and the ability to make data-driven decisions are key competitive advantages, most maritime organizations are not equipped (and have no wish) to become data management experts. Leaving this function in the hands of a dedicated managed services team ensures that terminal operators, ports, shipping lines, charterers and other maritime players can put 100 percent of their time and energy into what they do best.

Security

Digital security was top of mind in 2020, as hacking activity directed against the maritime industry saw a staggering 400% increase during the first few months of the pandemic. The last few years have shown that the cloud offers robust security, with cloud infrastructure seeing an estimated 60% fewer security incidents according to Gartner. Next-generation cloud solutions built on platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) offer strong protection against the mounting cyber threat because they have the resources to continually test and update their solutions on a scale that on-premise teams are unable to match.

Cost savings

The cloud enables organizations to reduce their total cost of ownership (TCO) by avoiding the significant fixed overheads associated with procuring and maintaining hardware and applications in house. At a time of fluctuating costs, unpredictable capacity and utilization, and rising insurance premiums, the cloud can help maritime organizations realize savings and improve the predictability of costs associated with data management.

Remote work

Throughout the pandemic organizations whose digital resources are primarily cloud-based have been able to adapt to the needs of remote workers and return to productivity more quickly. While no-one can predict the longer-term effects of the pandemic, there is no doubt that being able to connect a distributed, mobile or remote workforce to the organization's data in a more agile way will be an essential capability. As industry participants and their customers need round-the-clock operations, cloud-based solutions are a way to support users from multiple regions at any point in time - something that existing, legacy, in-house technologies struggle to do.

Continuity

Maintaining an on-premise solution exposes maritime organizations to key person risk. That risk is magnified when the organization is smaller and operates with a single data manager, but even large, global operations with typically lean IT teams run the risk of business interruption when key team members move on. When data and the supporting technology are transitioned to the cloud, responsibility for data management can be assumed by an external managed services team, removing reliance on a single individual or small team.

Conclusion

As supply chain demands increase and competition intensifies, migrating data management operations to the cloud is becoming not only attractive, but also necessary. As organizations embark on digital transformation programs in a bid to become more data-driven, tapping into platform providers' managed service offerings will allow them to spend less time maintaining technology and more time focussing on decision-making and delivering a premium service.

Find out how our EDM for Maritime platform is helping maritime and shipping organizations embrace the potential of the cloud.

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