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Posidonia 2018: Smart shipping requires smart regulation and smart people

The Lloyd’s List Business Briefing at Posidonia on June 3 will challenge the premise that technology can be developed in isolation and discuss the shifting requirements of an industry in flux amid an unprecedented pace of transformative change

Without a more holistic approach to industry changes that recognise the inextricably linked environmental, social and economic pillars of development, the shipping industry risks amplifying the disruption that is already happening.

THE term “paradigm shift” is bandied around with promiscuous ease, but it seems clear enough to Lloyd’s List that the global economy, and the shipping industry that serves it, is undergoing a period of transformative change.

A number of remarkable technologies are converging and the inexorable shift from simple digitisation (the Third Industrial Revolution) to innovation based on combinations of technologies (the Fourth Industrial Revolution) is forcing companies to re-examine the way they do business.

Like all revolutions, this one will be disruptive.

We were around to cover the first steam-powered industrial revolution, so we recognise disruption when we see it and there is clear evidence that the technologies that underpin the Fourth Industrial Revolution are having a major impact on businesses.

Connectivity and artificial intelligence promises alternative strategies, alternative operating models and agile, innovative competitors who can oust well-established incumbents faster than ever by improving the quality, speed, or price at which value is delivered.

It also offers endless opportunity for those able to adapt quickly enough.

But without a more holistic approach that recognises the environmental, social and economic pillars of development are all inextricably linked, the shipping industry risks amplifying the disruption that is already happening.

Lloyd’s List has already held a series of debates this year under the banner The Three Elements of Efficiency and it is a theme we will continue to pursue at Posidonia next month when we will hold our agenda-setting Business Briefing on June 3.

The premise is simple enough — for all the talk of pace and accelerated digital change we continue to believe that efficiency in shipping cannot be reduced to a single silver bullet of technology.

Nor do we buy the neat linear projection that technological innovation alone will lead to a supply-side miracle, with long-term gains in efficiency and productivity.

Yes, transportation and communication costs will drop as a direct result of technology-driven efficiencies, logistics and global supply chains will become more effective, and the cost of trade will diminish, all of which will open new markets and drive economic growth.

But, without an effective regulatory framework and a steady influx of the right skills supported by a new approach to training, the shipping industry is overlooking a vital part of this evolutionary shift.

Smart shipping is intrinsically linked to smart regulation and smart people.

The Three Elements of Efficiency series of events has provided a platform to discuss the details of what the shifting requirements from different areas of the industry look like in practice.

Technology remains a key pillar of the debate, but given the volume of blue sky thinking on show right now across the industry, the practical realities of what implementation looks like at the coal face of operations are still lacking in much of the dialogue we are engaging in elsewhere. We plan to address that discrepancy at Posidonia.

But technology cannot be considered in isolation.

The second pillar to our thesis is a deep engagement with not only the letter but also the spirit of maritime regulations, which have been put in place to align shipping with the broader agendas of climate change, environmental protection, and safety, and must now become more agile and adapt to a new, fast-changing environment.

The third is an increasing awareness that efficiency relies on the right people. Adapting and maintaining the quality of seafarer training fit for the digital era should be considered business as usual for shipping, but now the maritime sector is competing with every other industry to attract next generation digital talent from engineers and IT specialists to logistics experts and systems architects.

While there is currently no shortage of pundits talking up technology that will drive change, the Three Elements of Efficiency events that we have held so far this year have proved our lingering suspicion that the acceleration of innovation and the velocity of disruption are hard to keep on top of, even for the best connected and most well informed.

We have also found that the pockets of expertise around these topics tend to talk in silos.

So at Posidonia our panel and audience, will be invited to take a more holistic view of the changes facing shipping.

We believe that, taken together, investment in next-gen technology, engagement with the spirit of maritime regulations, and a collaborative focus on attracting right expertise will ensure efficiency levels are higher than any one of these elements alone.

At the Lloyd’s List Posidonia briefing, in Athens on Sunday June 3, a panel of experts in each discipline will discuss the merits each of these elements of efficiency in turn, and conclude by pulling the threads together. Can technology help find value beyond the vessel? Is the IMO agile enough to adapt to a new, fast-changing environment? How can the shipping industry attract sufficient digital talent?

Join the debate by registering to attend the Lloyd’s List Business Briefing on June 3 at the Divani Apollon,Vouliagmeni.

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