The global maritime digital products and services market in 2021 is worth $159 billion – 18% ahead of pre-pandemic forecasts, according to a new report.
The pandemic-driven surge of digitalisation has led to a near-triple increase in average daily data consumption per vessel – from 3.4 to 9.8 gigabytes between January 2020 and March 2021.
The report, written by consultancy Thetius and sponsored by the Inmarsat Research Programme, estimated that by 2030 the digital maritime industry will be worth $345 billion, up from a previous forecast of $279 billion.
“Global trade facilitation saw an explosion in the use of digital tools including massive growth in consumer demand for e-commerce and the use of online booking platforms for shipping freight,” the report wrote.
“2020 saw a small dip in spending growth on digital tools developed specifically for the maritime industry. However, overall there was significant investment in general IT infrastructure.”
Ports that had already invested in digital systems before the COVID-19 pandemic, have reaped the rewards: the Port of Gothenburg’s existing automatic gates and digital contractor permit system cut down on face-to-face contact and simplified their transition to “the new normal” brought about by COVID-19, added the report.
Looking ahead, decarbonisation is the biggest long term issue facing the industry, the report added.
Digital tools “can play a strong role” in the immediate future of the industry’s decarbonisation journey – for example, there is evidence of fleet-wide fuel savings of up to 20% just from changing the handling behaviour of a ship’s bridge team.
Stefano Poli, VP Business Development, Inmarsat Maritime, commented, “Digital solutions are now pervasive in maritime, and one consequence of COVID-19 has been that our customers – and their customers – increasingly think digital first.
“The last 18 months have been challenging, but they have also brought a seismic shift in attitudes in favour of IoT-based solutions for crew connectivity, safety, sustainability and ship efficiency.”