New Research finds operational agility in 2020s demands Blended Connectivity approach
90% of shipboard data never leaves the vessel, but a Blended Connectivity approach combining 4G/LTE and Satellite could unlock significant value as part of digitalisation and IoT strategies. The 2020s looks set to be a highly volatile decade for shipping, where success will require not just operational efficiency, but operational agility. Ship operators are looking to digitalisation to deliver both, but according to a major study undertaken between Futurenautics and Vodafone, significant value is still being left on the table.
With 90% of shipboard data never leaving the vessel it seems clear that ship operators are losing out on valuable analytics insight which can improve both performance and efficiency. Whilst the study recognises that satellite connectivity is, and will remain the best and primary option for deep-sea operations and emergency communications, it must be viewed in the context of a new Blended Connectivity approach – balancing and utilising an increasing range of services which has significant scope to extend maritime interconnectivity.
With 4G/LTE today delivering lower hardware investment, higher speeds, unlimited capacity and less latency than satellite, near-shore 4G networks could be used while in port or coastal waters or providing a cost-effective way of accessing under-utilised data.
The evidence suggests that unlocking the real value of data and digitalisation demands a new approach to the critical underlying connectivity layer. The future of shipping depends on its ability to adopt and extract value from a raft of Industry 4.0 technologies from the IoT and AI to 5G, and ship operators can’t do that alone. Blended Connectivity demands an ecosystem approach from both connectivity suppliers and ship operators who will need to collaborate closely. Blended Connectivity strategies must deliver interoperability, security, availability and customer-centricity in the longer term, but, as the research shows, can reduce costs and unlock value from day one.