Riding the wave of digital disruption

22 March 2017

Michiel Meijer, Senior Director Sector Development, Inmarsat Maritime

  • maritime

  • global-xpress

In the first of a series of blogs on the new era of ultra-connectivity at sea, Michiel Meijer, Senior Director Sector Development for Inmarsat Maritime, explains that digital disruption is an unstoppable tide.

The Big Data revolution isn’t coming. It’s well and truly here. At Shipping2030 Europe in Copenhagen this week we’re looking over the horizon at the trends and key drivers that will impact on the maritime industry in the next couple of decades, but the unprecedented speed of change means we also need to focus on the here and (nearly) now.

Let’s just look at a few stats. In 2020, there will be 4 billion connected people on the planet. They will be plugging into more than 25 billion apps and intelligent systems producing an eyewatering 50 trillion GB of data. By next year, it is estimated that 70% of traffic on the internet will be video.

Clearly this is not something the maritime industry can ignore – and in many ways shipping is perfect for digitalisation and disruption: it’s international, has a common language and a plethora of critical functions and processes that are time-consuming and labour intensive. Add to that a tech-savvy workforce increasingly expecting the same constant connectivity on board that they get at home and the way we are headed is obvious.

The numbers show that the competitive players are already riding the digital wave and rethinking the way they operate: half of all vessel owners undertake some form of data analytics from sensors on-board, and a hike in ship-to-shore data traffic of close on 60% is forecast by the end of the decade.

Last year we asked 41 ship operators and 3,000 serving seafarers exactly what digital applications they use, and to rank their value. Vessel operations came out in front – safety, cargo, crew management, tracking etc – with commercial apps like ERP and e-procurement, IT solutions including cyber security and remote diagnostics, and navigational tools such as ECDIS updates and weather routing close behind. Crew, unsurprisingly, use email and content services, as well as accessing online training.

Looking at the bigger picture, it is evident that not one area of commercial shipping operations is untouched by the digital revolution.

At Inmarsat, our job is to ensure that shipping companies have the satellite connectivity that gives them access to the data applications they need, wherever they trade. With Fleet Xpress, we are setting a new standard in maritime communication by delivering high-speed connectivity and guaranteed performance globally from a single operator.

But Fleet Xpress is more than just a VSAT. We have created an entire maritime ecosystem including certified partners who are developing innovative, content-rich applications that truly exploit the potential of Big Data at sea. I’ll be looking at what that means for shipping operators in my next blog.

Michiel Meijer will be speaking about digital disruption and the era of ultra-connectivity during Shipping2030 Europe at 15:45 – 16:00 on 22 March.


About the author

Michiel-Meijer Michiel Meijer is Senior Director Sector Development, Inmarsat Maritime, where he is responsible for understanding the requirements of the market. Michiel started his career after receiving his Merchant Navy deck officer qualification from the Nautical College in Rotterdam and fulfilled several nautical positions on vessels from Nedlloyd and Royal Netherlands Navy. After his maritime career Michiel received his Masters degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from the Eindhoven University of Technology. His shore based career started within KPN (Telecom operator in the Netherlands) in which he held positions in marketing and product management. Since 2000 he held sales and marketing positions in maritime satellite communications before joining Inmarsat in 2012.

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