With digitalisation bringing disruption to industries and changing the way conventional businesses work, about 300 industry players including CEOs, CTOs and CFOs from shipping, port and maritime sectors gathered to glean insights from a powerhouse panel of movers and shakers as they discussed the future of shipping.
The inaugural ‘Global Perspectives: The Future of Shipping’ forum, one of the key events at Singapore Maritime Week 2018, featured a panel comprising maritime veteran Dr Martin Stopford, President of Clarkson Research; Mr Carl Schou, President and CEO of Wilhelmsen Ship Management, which recently relocated its global headquarters to Singapore; Mr Lim Kell Jay, Country Head of Grab Singapore, the disrupter that has revolutionised the taxi industry; Mr Claas Durach, Regional Head of Ocean Freight, Crossborder of Lazada eLogistics; and Mr Tal Drory, Senior Manager, AI – Multimedia, IBM Haifa Research Lab specialising in artificial intelligence.
The highly-interactive dialogue session was moderated by seasoned international award-winning journalist and broadcaster Mr Teymoor Nabili, who brought a fresh disruption to the traditional panel format. Using an app-based system “Pigeonhole Live”, the audience were asked a series of questions that then formed the basis for conversation amongst panellists.
The future of shipping
In response to the first question, “Is digitalisation for real or just a hype?”, 81.4% of the audience agreed that it was a very real and prevalent part of the world today, while 12.9% reserved their judgement for a later time by voting that “it’s still early days to comment on this”. A curious 5.7% decided that it was “a hype”.
Mr Lim remarked that he was surprised that 5.7% of those polled still thought of digitisation as hype, “because if that were true, Grab wouldn’t exist.’
Mr Stopford acknowledged, “there has definitely been a silent revolution going on, with greening, digitisation and automation,” while Mr Drory on the other hand expressed strong confidence that A.I. would be transforming all industries in the future.
When asked which consumer sector they felt offered the most learning points when it comes to applying digitalisation to the maritime sector, 66.4% of the audience chose the “retail, logistics and e-commerce” sector, while 20.4% thought it was the “transport” sector and the remaining 13.6% believed it to be the “fintech and banking” sector.
Various other questions were brought up by the audience, including one on how to attract younger talent to the Maritime Industry. Mr Drory was optimistic that with “the industry becoming more computerised and digitised, the appeal to the younger generation would become higher”.
Finally, when asked what they considered was the best strategy for coping with the opportunities of A.I., blockchain and data analytics disruptions, 63.3% opted to partner with a company in the field, 27.5% thought to create or join an industry consortium, and 9.2% chose to invest in or buy an A.I. or blockchain start-up.
“It’s a matter of knowing what you want to achieve,” said Mr Durach, referring to how quickly technological changes take place, and suggested that it is probably better to partner with a thought leader than create one’s own consortium or start-up. In conclusion, Mr Stopford summed up the room’s sentiment when he remarked, “Isn’t it fantastic that we have all these opportunities to improve the business through technology?”