Introducing the CLIA Executive Partner Technology Initiative

This year, CLIA introduced a new advisory council that aims to help the cruise industry solve its challenges with technology. ICFR speaks to the group’s chairman Ian Richardson, who is also the co-founder and CEO of independent technology consultancy TheICEway, to find out more

Introducing the CLIA Executive Partner Technology Initiative

What is the main objective of the CLIA Executive Partner (EP) Technology Initiative?
Our main objective is to address the common challenges faced by all cruise lines by finding a way to make the best possible use of technologies. We will also look at how other industries are using emerging technology that could benefit our industry.

How does the CLIA EP Technology Initiative work?
We have a steering group made up of senior cruise executives that are responsible for both ship-based and land-based IT. There’s a diverse mix of representatives from both US-based ‘mass market’ cruise brands and niche European lines because we feel it’s important to hear perspectives from the whole industry. The steering group meets every month and its objective is to find common challenges that affect the whole cruise industry, so the members can discuss them collectively. We also have technology-focused events, the first of which is at the Intercontinental Miami hotel in Florida, US on 29 November 2018, which will give all cruise lines the chance to listen to and participate in engaging sessions covering several current hot topics.

There are several vendors involved in the group. Is it challenging to get them to work together collaboratively? That’s a great question. Much like the ferry industry, the cruise sector is quite small in the sense that these people have already been collaborating regularly for years and everybody is passionate about helping the cruise industry to continue going from strength to strength. Of course, we have some vendors involved who compete with each other directly, but this has not affected their willingness to collaborate on this initiative.

What challenges has the group identified as the most pressing for the cruise industry?
The main challenges we will be covering at the event in November are internet connectivity, how to use the internet of things to address operational efficiency and environmental sustainability, cybersecurity, and data compliance.

Why is technology key to solving these challenges?
Technology is changing the world across all industry sectors and the main driver has been connectivity, which has historically been an issue for vessels at sea. This issue has restricted the shipping sector from adopting some of the technologies that other industries take for granted, such as cloud computing. As a result, the industry has lagged behind in its development from a technological standpoint, however this is about to change with the explosion of bandwidth that will come online in the coming years. This will open the door for cruise vessels to use technology that has previously been either unavailable or uneconomical which means we are at a huge turning point right now.

Is the goal for these companies to develop new solutions and services to combat those challenges?
Eventually, we want to set the CLIA EP members challenges and get them working together in areas specific to their skill sets. The cruise industry is relatively small, so vendors do not see the benefit of investing time and resources into research and development unless they see a real value opportunity. By finding common challenges that affect the whole industry we are giving them a commercial incentive for investment.

What are the next steps for the council?
We have a dedicated event on 29 November at the Intercontinental Miami, where expert speakers will cover a number of great topics. This will be followed up with more events next year. We are in the process of outreach to ensure we get as many cruise line participants from technology departments to attend and participate.

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Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson
21 November 2018

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