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Taking the next steps in digitalisation

Maritime businesses can be divided between those companies that have been hit by a cyber-attack and know it, and those that have been hit and don’t know it yet. Or between those led by CEOs who recognise they need to align their structure and processes with the new digital age, and those executives who want to leave it until after IMO2020, when steady profitability is achieved.

There’s another division to be made: between those companies and senior executives for which digitalisation is , like sustainability, and those for which it has potential to transform the maritime landscape for the better.

Shipping has been toying with digitalisation for years but only the brave, or the foolhardy, have got their hands dirty. Suddenly, the temperature is rising. Threats are coming in from all sides: the need to reduce noxious emissions, the demand to improve safety, the necessity to raise the game on efficiency. The digital community says these challenges are being tackled in aviation, in automotive, and in healthcare through data analysis. However, shipping continues to believe that’s only for the large, well-resourced businesses that repeatedly attract the headlines.

Not so, it seems. Digitalisation can undoubtedly impact the carbon footprint, safety, security, and performance for smaller companies as well. The difficulty is filtering out the noise and focusing on the clear signals that are already there.

Taking the next steps in the digital journey begins with a Lloyd’s List webinar – sponsored by Wärtsilä Marine and moderated by Chief Correspondent Richard Clayton – on May 23rd. This discussion will take a pragmatic approach to what has already been achieved, what is urgently needed, and what benefits can be won by an industry that understands the potential of digitalisation.

Our speakers are experts in their sectors. Mauro Sacchi, Director of Business Development at Wärtsilä, has worked in Italy, the United States, Japan, Finland, and Singapore and is currently responsible for mergers and acquisitions, partnerships and strategic customer projects, and is fascinated by transforming existing business practices.

Speaking at the SMM event in Hamburg last September, Mr Sacchi urged shipping to think differently about what he called “shared challenges”. He believes there’s a bottleneck preventing the industry from achieving the vision of joint responsibility for the ocean.

“We have to collaborate together differently,” he said, explaining that it’s time for parties from across government, classification, politics, and business to work alongside customers and partners, innovators, investors, and entrepreneurs.

“Persistent issues could be reduced through shared shipping capacity, using big data analytics to optimise operations; [with] high-tech, intelligent vessels…”

Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou is joint-CEO of Tototheo Maritime, a company specialising in connectivity through satellite communications, automation, navigation, and digitalisation services.  Ms Theodosiou has herself received a number of professional accolades, both in Cyprus and globally. She was recently identified as one of the “Ten Women to Watch” by Youngship International and received the Woman of the Decade in Innovation and Leadership Award at the annual Women Economic Forum (WEF) in New Delhi.

Ms Theodosiou, who has appeared in Lloyd’s List’s Top 100 in 2017 and 2018, is currently President of WISTA International. In March this year, she spoke at the World Maritime University Empowering Women in the Maritime Community conference, saying “Shipping is transforming for the better, and women are integral to that transformation.”

She added that the industry “needs to work on creating a society where everyone is judged on their skills and merits, not on race, colour, gender and age.”

Our third speaker is Theo Mourouzis, Managing Director of Electi Consulting, who holds a PhD in Computer Science from University College London, a MRes in Security Science from UCL, an MSc in Advanced Studies in Mathematics and a BA/MA in Mathematics from University of Cambridge. He has extensive experience in applications of emerging technologies in the shipping sector and especially AI and Blockchain. He designed and served as Programme Director of the certificates "Big Data in Shipping" and "Blockchain in Maritime" offered by Lloyd’s Maritime Academy.

This webinar will focus on understanding the benefits of a data-driven business at a practical level. What insight do leaders of shipping’s smaller and medium-sized businesses – bearing in mind the ‘average’ vessel operating company runs just five ships – need about digitalisation?

Much is claimed about Artificial Intelligence, blockchain, 3D printing, algorithms, and deep learning. Is closer collaboration through algorithms feasible in a commercially-competitive environment? Mr Sacchi believes it is. How can AI work alongside human skills and merits to create a transformed industry to benefit everyone? Ms Theodosiou says it’s possible. Is shipping really doing the bare minimum when it comes to data analytics? Mr Mourouzis urges smaller shipping companies to start or get left behind.

What’s the reality about digitalisation and what’s just hype? It’s time to find out. Join the Lloyd’s List webinar on May 23rd.

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