Seven Ways Data-Driven Decision-Making Can Benefit Maritime

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Read more about author Sarah Bennett.

The maritime supply chain is critical to the global economy and is responsible for carrying 90% of world trade. Estimates from the International Chamber of Shipping indicate that around 11 billion tons of goods are transported by ships each year, from raw materials to cargo containers. 

Digital transformation in the maritime sector has accelerated in recent years, as ship managers, owners, and operators understand the benefits new technologies can unlock. Maritime faces an evolving regulatory landscape, rising fuel costs, and complex people management. Data-driven insights help improve the speed, accountability, and alignment of decisions with business and commercial objectives.

Here are seven key ways that data-driven decision-making can benefit maritime organizations:

  1. Connecting the dots 

Data needs to be integrated and shared across the entire vessel ecosystem – from the engine room to the bridge, to the board room, from ship to shore and across the supply chain. Combining a range of data points into one platform that provides transparency and insights across the whole ecosystem is essential during a period of growing complexity for maritime. 

  1. Compliance

Regulation is constantly changing within the maritime industry. From January 2023, new technical rules called the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) and the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) are due to come into force. EEXI will cover the efficiency of a vessel’s design, while CII will regulate carbon intensity and measure how efficiently a vessel transports goods. These regulations will trigger a huge wave of change in the maritime industry, with a vessel’s CII rating potentially becoming a “licence to trade” when viewed by the cargo owners that fill the world’s ships with their goods. Organizations will need to make quick, well-informed decisions that can cost-effectively improve their CII rating to ensure compliance and keep operations running.

  1. Transparency 

Shipping has become more integrated into the global supply chain. Data transparency and awareness of what data is being collected, its quality, source, and where it is stored is therefore invaluable. This ensures the right information is being shared to make the supply chain run as smoothly as possible. 

  1. Accountability

ESG reporting has rapidly become a key priority for companies and investors across all sectors, and maritime is no exception. Shipping companies are under increasing pressure to report their ESG performance, which is linked to protection of the environment, crew welfare, and accidents or pollution incidents. Being able to draw meaningful insights from data and use those to inform decision-making is therefore critical to ensuring shipping organizations score well.

  1. Acting quickly

No two days are ever the same at sea. Priorities change rapidly, so it’s critical that ship owners, operators, and managers can make fast, well-informed decisions. Unlike manual processes, data remains responsive to change and enables crew to take swift, well-informed action. Vessel priorities are easier to alter in near-real time, from getting to port on time or reducing fuel consumption. 

  1. Feedback loops

As shipping becomes more equipped at handling and analyzing data and feeding it into platforms, staff will become more skilled at asking the right questions in the right way. From this, platforms’ recommendations will improve, creating a feedback loop. Both platforms and users will become smarter and defter at tackling the key challenges on each vessel.

  1. Commerciality

Shipping is a competitive market, and organizations need to maximize efficiency to ensure the highest possible profit margin. Today’s software algorithms can analyze data to make cost-saving recommendations that staff can use to drive efficiencies, blending software insights with human reasoning to chart the best course forward. In the case of fuel, which is the single largest cost for ship operation, software platforms can free up money to reinvest elsewhere in decarbonization or other strategic goals.

Making timely, well-informed decisions powered by data is critical for maritime companies to move beyond “reactive mode” and adapt to market change. With data‑based decision-making, the maritime industry can unlock competitive advantages and make itself more resilient, both of which are essential for organizations to navigate the extraordinary, rapidly evolving times we now live in.

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