Digital transformation and sustainability can be a match made in heaven, which is why Anne Katrine Bjerregaard, head of the secretariat at Green Ship of the Future is playing Cupid.
As head of secretariat in Green Ship of the Future, my role is to identify potential projects and their beneficiaries and then to facilitate collaboration. At times, that means playing Cupid between companies and other companies, but to an increasing extent, also between companies and new technology. And that requires a substantial measure of optimism, curiosity and persistence.
With 48 members from across the maritime industry, I am in the extremely fortunate position that I get to see our industry from 48 different angles. Yet each member of the network is firmly of the belief that innovation and development across the supply chain needs to continue despite the current downturn.
Whether this downturn is different than previous cyclical downturns or what it will take to spin out of it, creates more division. Drawing on the aforementioned optimism, my suggestion is that we turn our focus to the fact that we also find ourselves at the beginning of one of the most exciting periods for a very long time. The maritime industry will, most likely, look significantly different in ten or fifteen years and we are incredibly lucky to be a part of that transition!
The opportunities given to us by the current paradigm shift also known as the fourth industrial revolution, emerging technologies, the democratization of knowledge and the demand for transparency and sustainability from Gen Z—to name just a few—are immense. But we have to get it right. To do that, we need to break down barriers and take a more holistic approach in our innovation and development activities. This applies to the barriers between maritime and the industries that can help us understand and apply emerging technologies and digitisation, but also barriers across the supply chain. Equally important however, is the need to break down some of the barriers between in-house departments and strategic areas.
In last issue of Futurenautics Thomas Bruun-Clausen wrote about new friends and partnerships. The current paradigm shift presents the perfect opportunity to engage in such partnerships. In our industry we know about maritime, but we don’t know quite as much about new technology and digitisation—yet. So we certainly could find ourselves in need of a friend if we, or the world that surround us, begins to challenge the current supply chain with, for example, 3D print and increased local production. Those friends may, in addition, make taking a plunge into the infinity pool of new tech seem less daunting. The key is to start out by partnering up and sharing our ideas in an informal setting without contractual constraints defined by lawyers.
By way of example Green Ship of the Future initiated a project focussing on the appliance of 3D print in the maritime industry. With more than 30 companies, we embarked on a journey with no specific destination, other than to build up knowledge about 3D print technology and the potential applications in maritime. Through three workshops and a study trip to Augsburg, Germany we were inspired by other industries and learned from the best, including GE, Airbus, Brose and many others.
Equally important though, the participants applied their more than 200 years of combined experience and knowledge from across the maritime supply chain to the evaluation of this particular technology. If you can find the courage to share your ideas in such a setting—or even just with a few selected partners—you have a solid point of departure to further develop those ideas. Because they found that courage, and dared to share their ideas, some of these companies are now looking very seriously into 3D print. Those ideas might well end up having a real impact on their business or operations in the future.
If you WLTM future-oriented maritime corporates with the courage to combine their digitisation and sustainability agendas, who like emerging technologies, and dislike unsustainable operations, for coffee, walks in the park, and perhaps more, then drop us a note.
You may be wondering why Green Ship of the Future is engaging with 3D print, digitisation and emerging technologies. Isn’t it all about sustainability, reducing emissions and improving energy efficiency? Yes it is, but as I stated at the outset, to do that it’s time for us to start breaking down barriers and exploring the cross-over impacts between in-house strategic areas and disciplines.
When dealing with emerging technologies, it is well known that the real disruption happens when they’re applied in combination. So what if we start thinking of digitisation and emerging technologies as means to a more sustainable end? The articles and research within this area are scarce, but to me, the link is clear. Data and digitisation can help us deliver on the demand for efficiency and sustainability. Robotics and AI can help us become more efficient, and I, as many others, certainly see a transparency potential in blockchain.
So my message is simple. We need to start exploring how emerging technologies and digitisation can help us become more sustainable and reduce our environmental footprint. My humble guess is that those who find a way to excel in all these disciplines— technology development and application, efficiency, transparency and sustainability—but most importantly, learn to appreciate and utilise the cross-over impacts, will be the ones who get to truly define the transition we are facing and build the future maritime industry.
Thomas Bruun-Clausen is quite right about the power of ‘Coffee-based-bi-directional-curiosity-based-value-driving partnerships’ and I would suggest that you not only enjoy that coffee with potential new friends, but also your colleague in the office, or at the desk next door—particularly if you are the Chief Digital Officer and your next door neighbour is the Sustainability Director. Buckminster Fuller once said: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete”.
The time is ripe to start building a tech-savvy and environmentally sustainable new model for the maritime industry, and here at Green Ship of the Future we’re ready to play matchmaker. If you WLTM future-oriented maritime corporates with the courage to combine their digitisation and sustainability agendas, who like emerging technologies, and dislike unsustainable operations, for coffee, walks in the park, and perhaps more, then drop us a note.
It will be a match made in heaven, and together we can stop costing the earth.
Images courtesy © Getty Images
This article appeared in the Q3 2017 issue of Futurenautics.