Why email is still business critical in the shipping industry
Written by Rune Larsen, Service Marketing Manager | 20 December 2019
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Email is often called the dinosaur of the tech world. However, unlike those beasts of yore, email never went extinct. In fact, it dominates as the tool for all important business communication.
Today, even if several new communication tools exist, email is the backbone of nearly everything we do in the professional world, the shipping industry being no exception.
Let’s look at five reasons why email remains in use today as default for all important communication in any industry.
1. Standard – in every sense of the word
While it has evolved since, the standard created in the RFC 821 from 1982 is still the base for all email communication. But, more importantly, it’s the de facto standard for electronic messaging for many decades, and a standard that is not owned by anyone but adopted by everyone.
While companies or groups of people can migrate to more current solutions, they do not cover more than that company or group, as in that case a specific, usually paid, application will have to be agreed beforehand. Email is the lowest possible common denominator that we take for granted that everyone is able to receive and send.
2. Everyone uses it
Who doesn’t use email today, either privately or professionally? They are few and far between. Email is a highly useful all-purpose communication tool that is massively established in the world of work. Getting people to migrate from email to another medium has proven to be very hard.
While you can agree with people you know to use other applications (e.g. WhatsApp or Telegram), if in doubt, you can be sure that email works.
Though many modern-day seafarers - as individuals - are migrating to messaging services like WhatsApp, email is still the primary communication platform for ships at sea, particularly for business.
Let’s face it, the real-time messaging app Slack, with its constant desktop and mobile notifications, can be pretty overwhelming and distracting at times.
Email’s asynchronous nature, however, gives the receiver time to respond and, by being easier to ignore for longer periods of time, shows more respect for his or her time and any tasks at hand. This enables focused work while still being hooked up to the information flow.
4. Provides permanent log
Unless deliberately deleted, email messages remain in your inbox. Want to track down a specific message? You don’t need to scroll unnecessarily to find it; you just need to search for it in the search function. This creates a virtual paper trail that is far more efficient than printed documents filed away in a drawer.
Besides that, companies usually create email vaults that ensure that business communication is kept unchanged for as long as necessary or legally required.
5. Ensures business communication between ship and shore
Email protocols are excellent for environments where the other sides (or sides) might not be online at all times. The ‘store and forward’ method caters for correct delivery even if emails are queued up awaiting connectivity.
This characteristic is vital to shipping companies’ operations, as email creates the backbone of business communication and information exchange.
Maritime email must be reliable and secure
If we are to compare email to an animal, ‘workhorse’ may be more appropriate than ‘dinosaur’. Email might not be the most up-to-date and agile way of doing things in the world of business, but it gets the job done.
In today’s shipping industry, email is still the most efficient means of communication, particularly for exchanging business-critical information between ship and shore.
However, as email is neither intrinsically secure nor reliable, a digital platform for ships – running a maritime-optimised email system with multilayered security – is necessary in order to enable efficient and dependable business operations at sea.
Written by Rune Larsen, Service Marketing Manager
Rune Larsen is Service Marketing Manager in Dualog, with responsibilities for user experience design, visual design and marketing of existing and new services. Educated in business strategy and marketing from the Arctic University of Norway, he has more than 25 years of experience from the creative industry, where he worked as a writer, consultant, designer and creative director in various advertising agencies and design studios. He's been orchestrating brand identity projects, design work and brand building campaigns for a wide range of organisations. He brings a passion for great design to the team, never compromising on the importance of the 'experience' part of UX. When not at the office, he enjoys hiking with his wife or is busy being a football coach for his youngest daughter. His fitness regime involves either running or cross-country skiing. Rune is an avid reader of business-related books, and he loves the occasional bottle of Barolo.