Part of that competence building process will include enticing digital natives into an industry rarely described as ‘cutting edge’, bringing their innate comfort interacting with technology and their instinctive understanding of its capabilities into the business processes of the companies that recruit them.
“The younger generation work differently. When you try to attract the younger generation, even if they have 10 years of experience, they look at us like a very old-fashioned industry,” Mr Simha said.
“The younger generation wants everything ‘on’. On the mobile, on the iPad, on demand…they’re used to ease. They expect speed. They demand simplicity. The same goes with me to be honest, but a lot of shipping companies are not set up like that. It’s these expectations that will help accelerate change, but only if we’re open to it.”
“Youth have the advantage of a fluid mindset. They embrace new ideas and technologies and aren’t burdened by years of experience. They see opportunities where others see barriers. If we’re to attract, retain and get the best from the next generation we must be more flexible in our approach. If we can find a way to keep innovators stimulated, challenged and engaged, we’ll set the foundations for a strong future of our industry.”
For Dr Zuesongdham, developing leadership skills in a new generation of industry executives is an important step in giving younger people the professional leverage to push through the technology changes that will be required.
“It’s a key point, to think how we’re going to develop leadership for these kinds of activities in the organisation,” she said.
“You don’t need to be senior to become a leader, you have to really encourage people to lead with ideas that they think are right for the organisation, and you have to promote these younger talented people that are willing to lead. A leader is not really a matter of seniority, but someone with the passion and ability to really convince others to follow.”
“Something that has really fascinated me about maritime is that we deal with these huge assets that you can reach out and touch, but now we are starting to combine these kinds of heavy assets with technology and with the soft skills within organisations. That is quite an amazing process. You don’t have to be a vessel captain anymore to work and succeed in this industry.”
The combined efforts of the 81 authors of this new book on Maritime Informatics, and the concepts they are trying to promote, is testament to the notion that we require contributions from all types of people from different backgrounds to drive the evolution of the truly digitally enabled supply chain.
From shipping lines like MSC, to ports like Hamburg and research institutions like RISE, this has to be a collaborative effort. If we all take part, we all stand to gain.