Smart Ports of the Digital Tomorrow

Smart Ports of the Digital Tomorrow

Could you elaborate on the challenges that organizations will need to address in relation to the Port Technology space?

We work as the world's largest port agency service and interface with ports, infrastructure, and all the stakeholders. We are the glue that bonds the ship-owner and the maritime transportation companies together with the local port infrastructure and the local port operation. Every day, we are trying to bring the local vendors in the respective ports more into the global value chain and the supply chain. On the technology side, we see an inclination towards web-based solutions, and it's going to be one of the main drivers in the industry. This is taking a cue from some other industries that have moved to web-based solutions, such that we are seeing more things moving toward this in real-time demand of information. It is information that is being pushed through the system, but it is equally important that it is being poured by the clients when they need it in their time zones 24/7. The second aspect is around intelligence, and how it is enabling clients to make smarter business decisions around the globe. And again, information is power there and it is allowing them to make these smart decisions based on local port and trade data. So we are focusing a lot on developing into intelligence platforms for this particular purpose.

What are the current market trends you see shaping the Port Technology landscape?

The information aspect is incredibly important. So leveraging information and intel and pulling it together in dashboards or compressed formats where clients can utilize it to make smarter decisions closer to in real-time is going to be an essential trend. We also are considering deep integrations with the vendors wherein we are not just looking at a transactional relationship with vendors and stakeholders in the local ports but also having more transformative conversations. We believe that change starts with changing the conversation, and this is where we are beginning to change the conversation with the vendors and the support companies in the ports. That's everything from the pilots, launch providers to towing companies.

There's got to be an increased focus on coming up with solutions to challenges, and coming out of this COVID 19 scenario is going to be more critical than ever before. We get together closely with our vendors and supply chain partners to develop smarter and more optimized ways of delivering services. Hence we are not just saving on cost but are also optimizing time. Often we have been single-mindedly focused on the cost, which is the single denominator, but time is equally important and, in some cases, even more important.

What are the strategic points that you go by to steer the company forward?

The maritime industry needs to pick up more on creating a level of agility. Since 2019 we have been working towards the same goal so that we can scale up and down and redirect resources in a more agile and nimble manner. So agility is something that we've been working heavily around and are learning from other industries as to how they've been able to do it. So we are focusing on moving away from the brick and mortar setups and moving into a more agile model where we are working more in virtual offices and teams. These gives us the flexibility in scaling up and scaling down when demand is there and redirect resources to where they're needed.

“Change starts with changing the conversation, and that needs to be changed”

It's interesting for us to reflect on what we did last year and then to see how the coronavirus suddenly has affected work. People have to work from home and how it has challenged a lot of companies where we feel that we were already one step ahead of it and setting up these remote work environments and also change people's mentality. The most challenging things to change are not necessarily the organizational setup, but getting people to adapt to it and remove the fear of working in this way both for the individual that is working and for the organization. It's about the trust in your people being able to do the job even when they're not physically in the office. We started that transition last year, and that is one of the hardest things to do. Thus, we believe in agility and that where space is heading towards going forward.

How do you see the evolution a few years from now with regards to disruptions and transformations within Port Technology space?

Things are moving towards web-based solutions in our space and are going to witness deep learning and AI being utilized. To stand apart in the industry, we are looking at focusing on what is valuable, unique, and hard to imitate solutions to the supply chain and the clients. Thus, we are emphasizing on how it's being done rather than what is being done in the ports because it's comparatively easy to copy what is being done as to how it's being done.

What would be the single piece of advice that you could impart to a fellow or aspiring professional in your field?

I try to live every day and talk to my people about it. I talk to our vendors on collaborating more within the value chain and having the cart change conversations. This is about having the courage to be willing to engage with the value chain partners that are servicing the ports and all the stakeholders and asking questions. One should not see questions as a sign of not knowing but seeing questions in this conversation as a way to explore new opportunities. Again change starts with changing the conversation, and that needs to be changed. Maritime is a conservative industry, and we have not been excellent at collaborating across the whole value platform. So my recommendation is to show the level of courage to engage in conversation and ask questions out of curiosity.

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