This year at the Connecticut Maritime Association conference, change is the watchword. As Joseph D Gross, president of CMA, wrote in the event guide “…you are here to capitalise on a changing industry…” But change means different things to different people.
Think like Uber
To Danish Ship Finance head of research Christopher Rex, change is moving towards a digital future. “The shipping industry needs to leverage its expertise,” he said. “The shipping industry needs to leverage its data.”
He gave the example of BMW, which has changed from being a premium car manufacturer to being a premium mobility provider, by selling high-end bicycles and electric cars which the householder can use as a battery to sell electricity back to the grid.
Or shipping will be like Nokia, which brought the mobile phone to the masses, but gave it away by sticking to text when the consumer wanted to swipe.
Or you will become an Uber driver
Shipping needs to think like Uber, which turned expertise in data into a billion-dollar cab company. Before Uber, every taxi company had a dispatcher, who held the key data on the location of those who required a taxi. By getting that crucial data direct from the customer, Uber now owns that data and more.
Mr Rex pointed out that we are happy to hand over our financial details to Uber, which makes assumptions about our habits from the location data. Mr Rex warned that Uber drivers earn very little, and unless shipping changes, owners and operators will be the Uber drivers of shipping: commoditised and poor.