Big Data and the digitised supply chain

in Trends by

Digitised supply chain management is already an everyday reality for the land-based movement of goods. But what about seaborne traffic? There is a general consensus of opinion that shipping should be getting equipped for a future where the focus will be on digitised supply chains and not on their individual components, e.g. ships. The challenge up to now has been to have sufficient ship-to-shore IT connectivity but with significant advances already achieved in this field, the key question now is what significance ship owners and operators attach to a digitised supply chain, rather than competing with one another just on price.

The fact is that shipping is currently lagging behind on Big Data. According to the findings of a recent survey, only 8.7% of maritime industry executives see Big Data as a major part of their operations, although they do believe that digitisation and Big Data are acting as a transformative force in the industry. Could it be that the day-to-day running of a business in the tough competitive climate of commercial shipping is the major barrier to investment in digitised solutions? It is true to say that Big Data solutions are often both expensive and time-intensive, while the return on investment is frequently uncertain. Although undoubtedly a more difficult approach than quick-fit solutions to easily measurable tasks, Big Data will deliver the best returns when applied to a ship’s entire voyage.


Measurable advances are possible. A recent survey in Harvard Business Review revealed that 48.4% of firms were obtaining quantifiable results from their Big Data investments. So how do we best close the Big Data gap in shipping? As an IT-driven company, we can enter into an interactive dialogue with ship owners and operators to understand their supply chain issues better and then develop tailored solutions to those needs. Our ETA and terminal scoring data is a step in the right direction. By integrating our data into the IT systems of supply chain players – ship owners and operators as well as logistics companies – we can smooth the transition to a truly digitised supply chain management system. The added value is enhanced planning security. In today’s just-in-time delivery environment it’s vital to know exactly when your shipment will arrive at a specific port.