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Data - the gift that keeps on giving

How do we improve the process of data sharing in a famously private industry?

Data is everywhere; not so much a philosophy anymore, but a hard fact in the modern world, which leads to interesting debates about the safety of data and how much or how little we are willing to share with the world.

The superyacht industry is not immune from this ongoing battle; owners are valuing their privacy more than ever, some even turning to drone technology to protect themselves. Shipyards and brokers respect this and subsequently keep many details of various projects or transactions hidden. But shipyards and brokerage houses are also using various data tools to try and reach more potential clients and business opportunities, so the question arises,  how do we strike a balance between an industry that has always had a reputation for the upmost privacy for its clients and still wanting to make an impact in this digital age?

A similar question was asked during day one of The Superyacht Forum Live in Amsterdam, where I was sitting in on a fishbowl session discussing how we can get operational technology to talk to itself and the subject of data sharing organically grew from this initial discussion. One of the biggest take-aways for me was the lack of ownership the actual superyachts themselves have of their own data and data history. For example, if the captain or chief officer has gone to the effort to record that vessel’s data over their tenure on board, they aren’t obligated in any way to surrender that data when they leave employment of that vessel. This means crucial information on refits, maintenance, running systems and other operational essentials could be lost, and the new crew subsequently coming on board with little knowledge of the vessel’s history. The same is said for when a yacht is purchased on the second-hand brokerage market; the previous owner is under no obligation to hand over any data that either they or their crew has recorded during their ownership of the vessel, meaning some owners are effectively buying a blank slate with no real indication of the history of this extremely valuable asset they are investing into.

In the United Kingdom a car must be sold with an accurate vehicle history, including any accidents and major works done on the car. So I struggle to understand why the same concept is not applied to superyachts when the money invested is so much greater. We require a vehicle history for something worth only £5,000, but there is no equivalent for something worth £50 million. This is just an example of how greater data sharing in our industry is something to be encouraged, as it leads to greater transparency all round for owners, shipyards, brokers and everyone else.

The world will only continue to advance in technology so the importance data has will only continue to grow in influence as well. This is not me calling for a data amnesty, expecting all shipyards, brokers and owners to just surrender all the information they have on their various vessels, it is hopefully the beginning of a process where individuals will realise that keeping their data behind locked doors might not be the best approach anymore and take a tentative step into a more open platform where we can share and discuss relevant data and the implications it has on the entire industry. This for me, as someone who works with data all year round, would be my wish for the new year.

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How do we encourage more data sharing in the superyacht industry?

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