Maritime stakeholders who fall behind in digitising their business models will fall out of the game very soon, experts have highlighted, suggesting a short-term ‘crash courses’ to shorten the digital divide.
The International Port Community Systems Association (IPCSA) 10 Years of IPCSA Webinar: The Future of Data Exchange between Logistics Stakeholders was hosted by PTI to bring together IPCSA and port community members on the future of digitalisation in maritime.
Javier Gallardo, CEO of Portic Barcelona and IPCSA Vice Chair, and Youssef Ahouzi, Interim CEO of Portnet and IPCSA Africa Representative, repeated that ports and supply chain actors are rapidly digitising processes.
Investment in and the utilisation of processes like sharing informational data through Maritime Single Windows, as well as Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning, is pivotal for the logistics industry, Ahouzi said.
The comments come as IPCSA celebrated its 10-year anniversary, highlighting the importance of collaboration amongst port communities and the logistics chain to provide a better service for customers.
“We have seen a lot of new freight forwarders coming in, using fully digital to better serve customers. I think the adoption of technology is very important so we can keep up [with other industries],” he added.
“If you are not in with technology, you will be out very soon,” Gallardo noted. “If you don’t put your business into the digital world, in probably a few days, weeks, or months, you will be out of the game.
“I think this is something we should clearly consider – which is unfortunate for some.”
Nico De Cauwer, Business Architect of Digitalisation & Port Community Projects at the Port of Antwerp argued government agencies such as food and customs working with Antwerp have also approached the port to work solely from a digitalised Port Community System (PCS).
“They feel the need more and more to consolidate the data coming into their systems. This is a fast evolution in what PCSs are doing. Others are evolving towards the same situation,” he added.
With swathes of the industry rapidly investing in cloud-based, digitalised software platforms, some have raised concerns that workforce operatives could be left behind when building skills and knowledge to understand and utilise online platforms in day-to-day operations.
“Our members have a role. We can play a role with laggers and those who are more unfortunate when it comes to technology,” argued Amar More, CEO OF Kale Logistics and IPCSA Asia Pacfic Representative.
“Clearly [with] PCSs, Airport Community Systems, and Cargo Community Systems, their primary role is to facilitate digital interactions between different stakeholders.”
More continued that to bring every aspect of logistics operatives – from truck drivers to Chief Information Officers – ports can harness PCSs as communication channels with the academic community in countries they operate in, but also at an international level.
“[We can] come up with short-term courses which can give different stakeholders a sneak peek into digitisation of technology, and what these people can specifically do in their own job,” he argued.
Such kind of crash courses have been used in leading business schools across the world, including in France in Civil Aviation Schools, More said.
“As a public service provider, you can move towards providing idiot-proof systems – or user friendly – systems that any kind of user can use on any device – like mobile phones, handheld devices, and so on.
“That’s how we are going to address the skills shortage issue that we continually face.”