It is often said that the amount of progress equal to the entire 20th century’s gains was achieved in the first 15 years of this century. Whether that is true or not, what is clear is that the rate of innovation today is faster than at any other time in history and will only increase as we move into the 2020s.
The application of new solutions that take advantage of data, advanced analytics and other digital technologies has never been more important. Forward-thinking companies are already digitalising core business processes, integrating systems and experimenting with technologies such as blockchain and machine learning in order to be better prepared for the future.
The digital ecosystem is immensely complex; different stakeholders require different things but it generates an immense amount of valuable information that, still today, is mostly not being captured.
With the overwhelming amount of data that will become available as boats become more instrumented, interconnected and intelligent, faster and more powerful computers, advanced self-learning algorithms and analytics have the potential to create huge leaps forward in safety, efficiency and environmental performance.
In general terms, whatever can be automated should and will be automated to reduce the administrative burden, improve data quality and accuracy, improve decision-making, shorten response times and enable increasingly more efficient data sharing between maritime stakeholders. The difference in the future will be streamlined and automated services, where data delivery and collection are done automatically without the need for crew intervention.
This poses a challenge for yacht owners and operators; those that are able to make the technology investment or form alliances with partners are likely to reap the rewards in the form of significant competitive advantages: improved customer relationships, better access to finance and stronger overall business performance.
Instead of having to sift vast tracts of data, information should be a management tool that can be acted on. For example, at Voyager Worldwide, we have a ’data lake’ of more than 1.9 billion data points and make over two million updates to that data every day. We use that data to make it easier for our customers to identify and rectify problems and, increasingly, to benchmark their performance.
Data on this scale creates counter-intuitive effects. Our superyacht navigation service was the first to encourage customers to spend less on charts and publications by helping crews to purchase them more accurately, using data analytics to show where there is over-spending and cost-savings can be made.
We can use data analytics to provide a highly intuitive view of each yacht’s chart and publication holdings compared to the requirements of its Flag and other regulatory stakeholders. Captains and crew are able to immediately see any issues that may arise and resolve them quickly and efficiently, enhancing navigation safety and compliance.
By taking a leaf out of the disruptors’ playbook we are able to change the pricing model and create a true partnership where we and our customers have a shared incentive to drive down the overall cost of navigation.
It’s an example of how we can use data and analytic systems to make increasingly accurate predictions; historic sailing data can help us predict future navigation requirements with impressive levels of accuracy.
Perhaps more than anything, digital data and technology have the potential to help make new levels of transparency possible, putting the companies that embrace them in a strong position to achieve commercial advantage in a highly competitive market, retain long-term customers and access the finance they need to grow in future.
Some owners will want to use data more strategically to track and measure key performance indicators, benchmark against a wider fleet and identify opportunities to gain operational efficiencies that will enable them to demonstrate reduced environmental impact and improved performance.
Going forward, we envision a future where digital services and solutions provide captain and crew with an increasingly clear view of what’s happening in their immediate environment, enabling issues to be identified and fixed faster, vessel performance to be improved and safety, environmental and compliance risks to be reduced. Technology is set to simplify business processes, improve transparency, speed up transactions and reduce costs.
Of course, none of us can really predict the future, but what is clear is the rate of technology change is speeding up dramatically with every year that passes. The key innovation trends are already here; the exciting part will be how we apply them over the next 10 years and beyond.
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