End-to-end is the missing piece of shipping’s digital puzzle

17 August 2020

Now is the time to integrate & centralise technology.

Digital solutions are revolutionising the freight transaction process for the better, but now is the time to integrate and centralise technology into one platform.

 

Though the fundamental purpose of the shipping industry – to facilitate the efficient movement of commodities – has remained the same since its inception, in that time, shipping professionals have seen a lot of change. In particular, the quest for digitalisation has resulted in the frequent deployment of new tools, techniques and technologies.

This is especially evident in how we communicate with one another. Many seasoned shipping professionals will remember when most communication was conducted over the phone or via Telex, or a combination of the two.

Fast forward three decades and we’ve seen text messaging, email, social media and instant messaging platforms such as WhatsApp enter the fold. While these are all excellent and effective ways of keeping in touch with professional contacts, the sheer number of options available is reflective of shipping’s current technological challenge.

The use of digital solutions has grown exponentially, but not always in a progressive way. For example, when digital databases were introduced in the 2000s to document the outcomes of each fixture, they may have been good for business, but they were not always good for users. Brokers, charterers and ship owners spent hours completing lengthy spreadsheets – sometimes up to 50 different data cells – but never saw evidence of how the data was being used by their organisations. Nor did those tools allow shipping professions to use the data they collected to measure and analyse performance.

For all the benefits it has produced, digitisation in shipping has often been too fragmented and not user-friendly enough. It is these challenges that Maritech Services has addressed through its new end-to-end platform, Sea/.

Our goal – across a suite of eight, inter-operable modules – is to provide state-of-the-art tools that digitise workflows, overcome inefficiencies and support increasing compliance requirements across the industry. Importantly, we’re doing this through one central, integrated platform.

 

There are many benefits. For example, one of the modules – Sea/chat – seeks to simplify the industry’s multi-channel approach to communication. Rather than conversing about different elements of a fixture through different channels, we allow users to do it all via one purpose-built instant messaging system for desktop and mobile. It means all communications are stored in one, compliant place.

Sea/contracts has similar appeal. Traditionally, the terms and conditions associated with a fixture have been deliberated through back and forth communications over email, or via other channels, meaning charterers, owners and brokers often have to copy and paste wording into legal documentation: a task that is not only time consuming but can also naturally lead to costly human error. Instead, Sea/contracts provides a new way to draw up charter parties, one with a clear and focused audit trail of changes to terms and conditions.

But, this isn’t technology for technology’s sake. Sea/ has been created for shipping professionals, by shipping professionals, that will help the industry to build intelligence, analyse performance and get the most out of the wealth of data and insight available to us. These advantages are only possible because the platform is end-to-end and allows users to manage all elements of a fixture in one place.

At its most powerful, technology in business can streamline processes, increase productivity, reduce staff workloads, free up time and add a huge amount of commercial value. Although the shipping industry has sometimes been behind the curve, Sea/ is an exciting new leg of the industry’s digitisation journey, grounded in the understanding that the way to achieve sustained adoption is to make sure we are driven by the requirements of the end user and that all our products are designed with this firmly at the front of our minds.