Silicon Valley comes to maritime
What lessons does SiliconValley have for the maritime industry?
Silicon Valley software companies focus strongly on the customer. We are very good at developing new technologies and solutions that address customers’ pain points, thus providing real value. Another key element of our success is the widespread use of open source software as a component in our solutions. This enables us to shorten development time and radically lower the cost to the customer without compromising on system quality. All Marsec’s e-Navigation and sea traffic management solutions are based on open source. However, not everything has to be or should be open and free - it has to make business sense for all.
Nevertheless, I do believe that encompassing open source components in products and services is a must and the way forward in maritime.
It is one of the key enablers for the Internet itself and therefore for both the industrial Internet of Things and cloud computing.
I believe you are also a proponent of open innovation and new forms of collaboration.
Yes, the open source movement is all about collaboration and I think maritime can learn a lot from us about collaborative business models. In Silicon Valley, we collaborate with our competitors to create platforms upon which we then build innovative value-added services. Collaborative business models have to grow as an industry is transformed through the technology that is emerging.
Large software players have understood that they often use up to 80 percent of their time developing similar platforms. However, most of their income comes from the 20 percent of real innovative services run on the platforms. This is their competitive edge. So, instead of all wasting money maintaining individual platforms, they agree on the smallest common denominator and collaborate to distribute the maintenance costs.
This is how open source works. For instance, why do all these huge companies work “for free” to develop Linux? Because it’s just the platform upon which real innovation occurs. The Valley has understood this, but Europe is still lagging behind. The maritime industry, especially marine electronics players, should grab this opportunity to make things cheaper, faster and better for everyone. Open source will reduce development costs for software companies and allow them to focus on the real differentiating value, while lowering prices for the customer. So, it’s a win-win situation.
Some maritime players are concerned about data security and ownership.
Indeed, with Big Data being produced and collected from shipboard sensors, the question is, “who owns what?”
Data is a competitive asset and has to be managed as such at the enterprise level.
For it to drive strategic insights that lead to competitive advantage, such as improved performance, predictability and profitability, data must be analyzed and presented as useful information for end users and decision makers.
Aggregating and analyzing Big Data in-house may be challenging, so I see the emergence of “data brokers” -- companies specializing in turning data into useful information to support informed decisions.
Beyond this, shipowners could consider releasing the commercial potential of their data by selling it whenever it makes business sense. There are some relevant and well-proven data management models for this in the financial services sector.
Data and system security is of paramount importance. Security should be incorporated from the early design stages of robust system architecture, and the highest security mechanisms should guard the data itself. Here the maritime industry can learn a lot from such industries as financial or medical services or the defense sector.
At industry level, the latest digital developments suggest some profound changes. The maritime sector, as part of intermodal transportation networks, will become one of the new hybrid industries, driven by the advent of the industrial Internet of Things that will blur boundaries between traditional industries.
Big Data: systems and software that analyse multiple data streams for insight. The Internet of Things at Sea: global maritime network infrastructure interlinking physical and virtual objects through the Internet. The Maritime Cloud (cloud computing): an open source solution for maritime communication.