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Home News OrbitMI guides navigation through complex digital landscape for sound tech adoption

OrbitMI guides navigation through complex digital landscape for sound tech adoption

The maritime software market is teeming with numerous vendors offering a wide array of technologies aimed at achieving data-driven operational efficiencies.

These efficiencies are crucial for attaining about half of the emissions reductions needed to meet the IMO’s goal of zero-carbon shipping by 2050. However, this abundance of options can create confusion when selecting software, making proper vendor evaluation essential for successful technology adoption, according to OrbitMI.

Research firm Thetius projects that the global market for maritime digital products and services will more than double by 2030, reaching a value of $345 billion. The number of software vendors has tripled in recent years, with over 550 companies now vying to meet industry demand.

An overwhelming variety of digital applications are available from these vendors, covering areas such as vessel performance monitoring, voyage management and optimization, navigation, cargo and vessel tracking, port operations, logistics and procurement, and document handling.

While it appears shipowners may be spoiled for choice, OrbitMI Head of Customer Success Aina Huseby says the reality is “the crowded and confusing software marketplace is extremely challenging for them to navigate”. She notes that this, combined with business uncertainties regarding the criteria for technology adoption and automation needs, can make it challenging to select the right solution that meets their requirements.

“As well as making sense of the market, a further challenge is to assess the credibility and longevity of software vendors. Long-term vendor relationships are necessary to ensure digital solutions are sustainable, scalable and adaptable in line with changing business needs to make them future-proof as the industry evolves,” explained Huseby.

In addition, she highlighted the risk of basing software selection solely on a slick marketing pitch from an aggressive vendor promoting a discounted product with attractive features but lacking an understanding of your business.

Huseby added "This can lead to poor investment decisions that result in lost time and money with protracted implementation processes, stalled progress on innovation and possibly a failure to digitalize effectively due to a lack of product-market fit."

Mitigating financial and operational risks through technology adoption has become increasingly urgent with the introduction of new regulations like the EU ETS, CII, and the forthcoming FuelEU Maritime. These regulations necessitate efficient digital systems for effective voyage decision-making to minimize emissions costs, as well as for reporting and other related tasks.

“Given the new green operating regime, digitalization to achieve operational efficiencies is no longer an option but essential both for compliance and competitive advantage as environmental performance is now a key differentiating factor in commercial contracts,” Huseby stated, highlighting market initiatives such as the Sea Cargo Charter.

To assist with this, OrbitMI has developed SET Maritime, a software evaluation toolkit in the form of an Excel workbook that offers a comprehensive checklist for technology adoption.

This free resource allows shipping companies to assess various vendors based on multiple criteria, including company profile, solution architecture, service and customer support, usability and extendibility, reports, dashboards and visibility, pre-fixture features, voyage management and operations, and post-voyage features.

Vendors are rated on a scale of 1-4 for each criterion, resulting in a final radar chart that provides a clear visual overview of each vendor's relative strengths.

"This tool represents a valuable aid for shipping companies to systematically screen vendors, so they are able to make informed decisions on software selection," explained  Huseby.

She emphasizes the importance of companies finding empathetic vendors who understand their challenges and are willing to collaborate on developing user-friendly solutions. These solutions should be easy to implement and enhance productivity, ultimately making life easier for users.

She also pointed out this was the guiding principle behind development of the Orbit vessel performance system by Stena Bulk before it was spun out into NYC-based software-as-a-service provider OrbitMI back in 2019.

This factor is also highlighted in the Thetius study that states: "Software developers have an opportunity to work with their customers to develop and experiment with solutions that not only fit specific requirements but are configurable and customizable to meet changing user needs."

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