How a shared data reality can align maritime decision-makers

Pelle Sommansson, chief product & AI officer at ZeroNorth, explains how digital technologies can create a lifeline of stability in the maritime sector by ensuring sensible decision-making, even if everything else is too complex to manage.

The upheaval of the past few years has created an existentially challenging environment for the companies that keep trade moving.

Ship owners, operators, and charterers face several complex market factors, including increased global conflict, new and lasting volatility in market rates, increased fuel prices, the new normal of supply chain congestion, an increased risk of global conflict, and new demands being placed on them by their customers, financial institutions, and regulators.

Organisations are under pressure to meet these priorities whilst remaining profitable – and when the pace of change is now so rapid and radical, it can no longer be ignored.

Driving the green transition

Decarbonisation is the highest item on the global trade agenda and is an increasingly important factor in maritime organisations’ decision-making process. Pressure is mounting for industry stakeholders to take decisive action to start reducing carbon emissions and meet the IMO’s target of 40% emissions reduction by 2030.

Industry players must grapple with making changes that drive the green transition, while also balancing a myriad of other priorities. This encompasses everything from making well-informed pre-chartering decisions – maximising operational efficiency while ensuring compliance and minimising emissions – to controlling costs to deal with growing inflation and higher fuel prices.

While building more efficient vessels and implementing alternative fuels will have a huge part to play in decarbonising shipping, both are costly, long-term options.

What is clear is that the industry no longer has time to wait. Organisations need solutions that drive immediate change and also enable them to remain profitable while navigating the transition to greener operations.

This is where digital technologies – and particularly data – can take a new and central role in creating a shared reality to join up stakeholders across an organisation. This enables them to align on their varying priorities when making decisions and ensure that any decision-making reflects their obligations to protect both profit and planet.

Creating a shared reality

Data holds the key to smarter, more sustainable decision-making, in tandem with software platforms that are able to interpret the information and provide actionable insights.

In a time where shipping organisations must contend with a growing number of often-conflicting strategic priorities, data insights can help underpin decision-making and align stakeholders from across the business to ensure differing goals can be transparently and measurably met. With the maturity of today’s technology and availability of data, this is achievable in situations where humans would find it nearly impossible to gain the same results.

Insights from this data can be used to identify areas within the business where operations can be optimised, which can significantly reduce emissions as well as drive cost efficiencies that have a positive impact on companies’ bottom lines. In this way, businesses are able to benefit both profit and planet and these savings could also be reinvested back into initiatives that drive the green transition.

Aligning on commercial and environmental goals is made much easier by data-driven connected platforms.

These solutions can bring together data from across a business, breaking down silos to create a shared reality between different stakeholders. This can enhance collaboration, as access to the same data points enables enhanced accuracy, visibility and context, bringing industry players together to make more informed decisions on vessel activities and goals.

Standardising for success

However, to be able to create this shared reality, industry data must be of high-quality, validated, and standardised. While shipping is making strides in its digital transformation, there is still more to be done when it comes to developing industry-wide common data standards, processes and practices.

Overcoming these barriers will be critical to enable the seamless flow of data and information between different departments within a company, as well as collaboration between different organisations.

This will be especially important as the maritime industry works ever closer to achieve its shared sustainability goals. Solutions that can help remove data silos and provide a connecting point for previously siloed parties through one source of intelligence will be critical to driving the green transition.

It can be difficult for maritime businesses to know how to meet all of their conflicting responsibilities – of which decarbonisation is certainly one of the most pressing. Stagnation or inaction is no longer a viable option, and steps must be taken to begin lowering emissions today.  

Digital solutions that identify where organisations can drive efficiencies can help deliver immediate, more sustainable outcomes that also have a positive commercial impact. These platforms also help to create stability in an increasingly complex market, aligning decision-makers through a shared data reality and enabling them to make smarter decisions that benefit both profit and planet.