Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2023

132 REPORT According to the A Changed World report by consultancy firm Thetius, the digital maritime industry is set to be worth up to $345 billion by 2030. There has been a seismic shift in digital transformation projects following the pandemic, as shipowners and operators have been pushed to keep up with the latest advances or get left behind. New technology is presenting both challenges and a plethora of opportunities for the passenger shipping sector, and new technology now forms a central part of operators’ plans for the future. One of the causes for this shift is the dramatically increasing amount of data available to operators about their customers and infrastructure. This creates significant opportunities for obtaining new and powerful insights that could help optimise every aspect of a businesses operation. However, managing this data effectively can be a significant challenge, explains Nicholas Belle, founder of Abelle Consulting. “Data is at the heart of an operation, and a key driver for business success,” says Belle. “However, managing data in an enterprise environment can be highly complex. As new data technologies become available, the burden of legacy systems and data silos grows, unless they can be integrated or ring-fenced. Traditional data operation models like data warehouses do not lend themselves well to a data-driven culture, as they can be too slow and inflexible in responding to business demands. Data lakes, on the other hand, are unusable for all but the most data-literate in an organisation. Modern cloud architectures have eased some of the complexities but have introduced concerns around data access and privacy in different legal jurisdictions.” According to Belle, a perception of limited innovation from the supply sector in recent years has led to businesses in the maritime industry developing their own solutions. “Over the past decade, the negative perception has forced maritime companies to adopt a ‘build not buy’ strategy, primarily to address their own specific needs,” says Belle. “Modern software development approaches such as DevOps, microservices architecture, agile methodology and cloud platforms have sped up time to market for new solutions, thereby making this possible. With the huge global demand for IT resource, the main challenge now is about keeping the show on the road while being mindful of the competitive marketplace.” Belle points to the customer experience as another area that could be improved with more effective use of technology, helping deliver a good service from the moment a guest books their journey. “Customer perception of your business starts from the moment they decide to book all the way through to their final destination,” says Belle. “There are a lot of insights to be gathered from the aviation sector, where a mindset of continuously reducing friction is the norm. For example, there is a plan at several US airports to use facial recognition technology to make identification documents (ID) obsolete. Imagine a port experience where you go from entry to boarding and then exit without physically showing any ID or needing to slow down.” The future of digital shipping Nicholas Belle, founder of Abelle Consulting, talks with Alex Smith about best practices for passenger shipping companies in ship and shoreside technology infrastructure and identifies market-leading solutions for key business processes New technologies are being used to reduce friction in a passenger’s experience from the booking stage onwards