A study by Navis, designed to track the perceptions, intentions and mindset of the global maritime industry, has found that the vast majority of the sector plans to increase investments in new technology within the next 12 months.
Of 170 participants in the Navis Business Bellwether survey, over 90% of respondents expect their companies to increase technology spending in the year ahead, and almost 60% indicated that the increase will be 6% or more.
Although investment in technology is widespread, many respondents claimed that the pace of innovation is too slow, with 44% saying that it needs significant improvement.
Andy Barrons, chief strategy officer and head of portfolio product management at Navis, told CM: “There seems to be a dichotomy between technological improvements being a very high priority for the industry and progress being slow.”
“One of the reasons is that data standardisation is needed to support rapid digitalisation and survey respondents specifically talked about data interfaces needing to be standardised so that the different systems can talk to each other and share information.”
As many as 52% of survey respondents raised data standardisation as an “extremely or very important” issue while only 1% thought it wasn’t important at all.
According to Barrons, understanding all the events that occur as containers move through the supply chain is a critical part of this process along with defining the data of those events.
The work of cross-industry forums such as the Port Equipment Manufacturers Association (PEMA) to discuss these issues will be important, he added.
Another key finding was a considerable variance in expectations regarding the consequences of automation on industry employment.
While 28% said that automation reduces jobs, 33% thought its biggest impact is actually job enhancement and another 28% pointed to improved worker safety as a positive impact of automation.
Barrons added: “More processes will become increasingly dependent on technology and systems will need to be well supported from an IT perspective. Databases need to be well managed and networks need to be monitored so there will be increased demand for IT expertise.”
“Users will be more dependent on using technology, running their operations from dashboards and bringing data from multiple sources.”
Trade protectionism was among the most worrying issues for Navis’ survey participants, with over 60% either concerned or “extremely concerned” about the issue.
Cyber security also ranked high, with 28% of respondents saying they are extremely concerned about the risk of security breaches, and another 38% expressing general concern.
Barrons noted: “Organisations are thinking about their policies around cybersecurity, what action they need to take to protect themselves and also how they manage their technology.”
“We’re investing more in analysing our technology and making sure that we’re writing software in a way that is going to protect the software from security threats.”
Nevertheless, a majority of the sector expects a continued recovery from the financial and business challenges of recent years, with 70% forecasting either slow improvement in profitability over the next 12 months or stabilisation and reduced losses.