Holy Ship! Why Digital Transformation is Taking the Shipping Industry by Storm
In Medieval Italy, sea merchants invented the bill of lading to confirm receipt of all goods in a shipment. Hundreds of years later, many international shipping firms still rely on paper bills of lading for this same purpose. But paper-based transactions are falling out of favour in shipping, especially with shipping and logistics start-ups coming onto the scene as digital natives. Today, we want to talk about why digital transformation is taking the shipping industry by storm and the risk and rewards that come with it.
Four reasons the shipping industry is ripe for digital transformation
- Paper-based processes are slow – From bills of lading and paying at-sea employees to ship certificates required by the International Maritime Organization, running ships as big as the Empire State Building on paper processes just isn’t efficient. According to a recent article by The Economist, Maersk found that processing one shipment of avocados from India to the Netherlands involved 200 communications across 30 parties! In an era when shipping companies support consumers’ same-day delivery expectations, it’s essential to save time in port and at sea. This means moving away from fax, paper and telephone communications and moving towards digital systems and processes.
- Industry 4.0 is transforming the supply chain – Industry 4.0—also known as the fourth industrial revolution—is bringing automation, data and the internet of things to the global supply chain. For this to work effectively, all players must be connected to the digital supply chain. As digitization becomes business as usual across the supply chain, shipping companies that can’t connect to this global infrastructure will be left behind.
- There’s increasing pressure on profit margins – Low vessel utilization rates continue to put financial strain on shipping companies. Implementing digitized operations reduce costs by optimizing shipping capacity and routes.
- Digital trade-finance platforms are growing – Governments, banks and insurers are working together to create digital trade-finance platforms to digitize trade and financing activities for importers and exporters. This will lower costs and reduce risk of double financing and fraud. Greater adoption of digital trade finance platforms—such as Marco Polo and we.trade—puts pressure on shipping companies to go digital.
Cybersecurity risk in the shipping industry
In 2017, the UK shipping company, Clarkson PLC, fell victim to a massive cyberattack orchestrated through a single compromised user account, which provided access for hackers to a vast trove of sensitive customer details. It goes without saying that with increased digitization comes the increased risk of cybersecurity attacks, data breaches and insider threats. Instead of shying away from digital transformation, shipping companies must simply embrace the cybersecurity risk management and staff education that comes with it. It’s also essential to get the help they need to integrate secure digital processes, communications and a user-friendly encryption solution into their businesses.
The rewards of digital transformation in the shipping industry
Undergoing digital transformation in shipping reduces errors, improves customer satisfaction and trust through increased logistics transparency, speeds up formerly manual processes and increases connectivity for crew and off-ship asset management personnel. Of course, we strongly recommend building privacy by design into any digital transformation projects, including a flexible encryption solution that protects all ship to shore communications (and vice versa).
And while there are costs associated with digital transformation, enterprise-level organizations can recoup some of these costs with a proven encryption solution. For example, a recent Forrester Total Economic Impact™ study, revealed that a typical enterprise-level organization using Echoworx’s OneWorld encryption platform can expect an ROI of 155 per cent—with upwards of $2.7M in cost-mitigating benefits. This same study showed that using the OneWorld platform to replace on-premises legacy encryption solutions meant organizations could save the full software cost of previous solutions and avoid other legacy-related costs for a three-year savings of $793K.
With encryption as part of your digital transformation project, you can also assure your customers that their goods and containers have more protection than a 15th century Venetian piece of paper can offer.
At Echoworx, encryption is all we do. Our OneWorld encryption platform and cloud security services are a natural extension to existing security programs and offer a wide range of flexible options for secure message delivery. You can learn more about the ROI of Echoworx OneWorld encryption here.
By: Kevin Foxton, Technical Operations and Security Team Lead, Echoworx