The clarion call is out for massive change in the traditionally conservative shipping industry. Led by regulatory and market demands, shipping is facing its “monolith moment
” of change. This requires both leadership and investment in a new way of looking at the business and in new technologies and designs to meet the changing, and increasing, demands.
In a recent gCaptain interview (see below under New Technology), Mark Huang- Managing Director of Sea-Ahead, the Boston based public benefit corporation supporting maritime startups—was asked by John Konrad why shipping is slow to invest in New Tech. He replied: “The Tech innovation from startups has really not been in the long-term DNA of the maritime sector. It seems like the industry can view vessels as assets similar to commercial real estate — put it to work for a return.”
About 20+ years ago I supported a Greek product tanker company on corporate communications. One point they insisted on was that we stress the company was an “industrial” shipping company, to distinguish it from asset players. This company today is still successful and has been nimble in balancing its fleet and pivoting for the future.
We need industry’s leaders to embrace the changes facing it today and examine where the future lies. Is the industry floating real estate, or the engine of global trade? If so, then how must adapt to meet society’s demands for efficiency and lower impacts? Industry must walk away from the “because we have always done it this way” approach to “what needs to be done to improve and succeed?”
In the gCaptain article, Mark shared: “About 10 years ago there was this internet startup guy named Elon Musk who wasn’t from Detroit, and he decided to put laptop batteries in a two-seat car. With electric vehicles, the list has been long on “why it won’t work” — yet consumers and regulators are demanding them and now there is a worry the incumbent auto sector will be too slow to adapt…So change can come from an industry blind spot.”
SHIPPINGInsight has become the showcase for new technologies. On our last day of October’s event will be our wildly popular SHARK TANK. Who knows? Perhaps shipping’s Elon Musk will be there!
*Have you watched “2001: A Space Odyssey” yet? You will be amazed by the parallels to where we are in shipping today.