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The maritime industry is experiencing a digital renaissance, and the industry standards are gradually changing and adapting to the new technologies. Shipping companies are at the centre of this digital tornado that will allow them to reach new levels of efficiency and cooperation.
It is, therefore, crucial to have in place an IT lifecycle process that facilitates the assessment and review of all existing systems. Such a process will help highlighting legacy systems that need to be reviewed, and identify possible silos that are detrimental to your digitalisation journey.
Together with Mr. Kumudu Wickrematunge, Senior IT Manager at New Ocean Shipmanagement Pte Ltd, we have identified 6 signs that indicate it is time to replace your legacy ICT systems.
To efficiently run daily functions and conduct operations at sea, you need an ICT system that offers industry-specific features and functionality that directly applies to your asset management and ship-to-shore business operations.
Does your legacy system work with the limitations in bandwidth capacity inherent in satellite communications? Does it offer powerful compression and data optimisation features?
Furthermore, when you have specific questions about file transfer, Internet quota management, or cybersecurity certifications, is your vendor able to help you?
If the answer is ‘no’, then you should consider replacing your existing system.
Often times the change of technology is forced by your products’ or services’ end of life. Normally, the options are to update the existing system to a more recent version, or to look for alternatives that will bring more value to your operations.
The former scenario sometimes comes with a little twist. The product is not supported on more recent OS or hardware solutions, and you are thus forced to either change or keep the system as is and accept the risks that come along with an outdated system. These risks can be related to reliability, stability, performance or cybersecurity.
Digital natives are entering the maritime industry, and they expect to use technologies that help them work efficiently. The corporate tools you provide your staff and crew with must be up to date and easy to use to keep them self-motivated and make them feel more involved. A system that is difficult to learn and operate is bound to fail, nullifying your investments and efforts. Your crew has the responsibility to safely run your ships, and all the involved services must be an asset to their daily tasks, rather than a burden.
At the same time, modern-day seafarers want to be able to communicate easily with family and stay connected to world events, so the availability of reliable Internet access and social media channels is crucial.
If your existing ICT solutions do not appeal to Gen Z in the daily work experience both at sea and on land, then you risk lagging behind in the competition for the best crew of the future.
As discussed in a previous Dualog article, your software has to be a tool that helps your staff accomplish their tasks in a way that saves them time. If your current system lacks speed, crashes all the time, and takes ages to perform standard tasks, it does the exact opposite to boosting productivity.
Can’t it just be fixed? Well, no. Legacy systems are, by definition, outdated. Trying to make them align with new workflows and technologies will be costly and counter-productive. Modern-day ICT systems are a value driver for shipping companies going digital. Legacy systems – not so much.
In a complex and competitive environment like shipping, system security and operational stability are critical. The value of maritime IT hinges on the predictability of your shipboard systems. They need to work reliably and as intended, without causing outages and disrupting your operations.
If you consistently spend a large part of your company’s IT budget maintaining obsolete legacy systems and applications, you need to upgrade.
Moreover, old IT systems are a significant source of cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Without processes in place to identify and remediate these end-of-life (EOL) assets, you expose yourself to cyber criminals eager to exploit these unprotected flaws.
Global shipping is a business that never sleeps. As a shipowner or operator, your shipping operations depend on always-on connectivity and the ability to communicate and collaborate with shore-based operations 24/7. If communications grind to a halt, you cannot wait until the following day – you need to get it fixed then and there.
If the service provider is difficult to get hold of, it’s a clear sign that you should consider switching to a vendor that gives availability top priority. That being said, keeping your technology stack up to date to minimise downtime and the need for support is a joint responsibility between your company and your chosen vendor.
What happens if your vendor, for various reasons, stops supporting the business-critical system you are using? System failures do happen, let’s not fool ourselves. The key is to have systems and a solid framework to get back on your feet right away. Whether it is a self-recovery procedure, or an immediate action by the provider, the goal is to ensure business continuity.
In the era of digital innovation and big data, your needs as a shipowner or manager never stay the same. So neither can your enterprise ICT system.
As your company grows and customer demands are rapidly changing, can your existing system adapt to your evolving business model and continue to meet operational needs? And what about the vendor, do they regularly bring improvements and system updates?
If you answered no, you might end up adapting your business to your software, and that will set you back. To stay competitive and continue to deliver top-notch business operations, and customer service, you should invest in software solutions that can keep up with your business goals.
Andrea is a passionate Customer Service Manager with 10 years of experience in maritime technology and digital disruption. With a combination of academic background in IT and Innovation and a capacity to empathize with clients of all levels, Andrea has helped numerous customers to succeed in their digital transformation journey. After spending 8 years in the Arctic, working at Dualog’s HQ in Tromsø, Norway, Andrea relocated to Singapore in 2016 together with his wife and two daughters.