DNV GL is at the vanguard of digital developments in maritime and, with Veracity, the group has built a unique platform for users to share, access and utilize data – realizing its potential and enabling a smarter, greener and safer future for all of shipping’s stakeholders. Here Magnus Lande, Veracity Head of APAC and Commercial Director, assesses the industry’s past, present and impending course down the path of digitalization.
DNV GL will be showcasing Veracity, alongside its other innovative services, at Nor-Shipping 2021, Your Arena for Ocean Solutions. The Oslo-headquartered, global group is a key partner of Nor-Shipping, seeing the event week as an important platform to connect with the industry, share knowledge and collaborate with partners worldwide.
What is the digital maturity of the maritime industry?
It varies. Some companies have come far in their digital transformation, while others are just about to start. In general, the maritime industry started its digital journey relatively late. The upside is that there are now proven processes and technology available, allowing companies to fast-track progress and derive value from becoming more data driven almost from day one.
Another great benefit for maritime is the sheer scale of data being produced every day. Modern vessels have thousands of sensors onboard. In addition to being used for direct system control, these data can now be harvested and used all the way up to board level, helping to inform and guide strategic direction and decisions.
So, there is no lack of industry data, but there is a lack of data utility beyond its original intended use. This can mostly be blamed on a combination of a lack of systems and standards for accessing and utilizing the data for added value, allied to an immaturity with regards to how data should be used. In addition, it is worth mentioning that as data utilization grows data quality will emerge as a key pain point. This should be approached in the same way as the quality management of physical assets. If not, it will risk undermining trust in data and the uptake of digital.
What is your advice to a company wanting to make better use of its data?
To come to a position where you can realize the optimal value of your data, you need to start with the basics. I recommend setting a goal for where you want to be in five years’ time, in terms of using data for business improvement, and then create a strategy roadmap accordingly.
When you know where you want to go, you can start with the first project. Make a limited data inventory and start cleaning, standardizing and making the data fit for purpose for this project – but with your long-term ambition in mind for how to scale to all data and all use-cases. This is a process that DNV GL, Veracity and our eco-system of partners can help with, allowing customers to effectively navigate day-to-day, augmenting their industry domain know-how along the way, and preparing for the longer-term change.
Also, it is of utmost importance to understand “better use of data” as the combination of digital technology with internal capabilities to create business value from the data. Managing this will be a major C-level challenge for businesses over the next five years or so.
Finally, I think it could help many to get going by taking the “edge” off digitalization by viewing it as a traditional improvement project meant to give immediate effect, as well as something that will, in time, lead to business transformation. In practical terms it simply means that if your first project doesn’t contribute to your desired medium and longer-term position, then you better find another project.
When should companies build their own solutions and when should they reach out to you?
Well, if they are just performing one project and are not planning on any real integration it may be enough to tailor their own digital technology internally. However, for companies that are serious about becoming data driven, and want to be ready for the unforeseen technology requirements of tomorrow, it’s best to consult someone building flexible and open data platform technology. For most shipping companies there should not be an ambition to grow their IT department, but to grow and maximize the business value they create. As previously mentioned, the biggest barrier is really going to be how to manage and derive business value from digital. As such, I’d suggest most small and medium sized enterprises should concentrate energies on that task.
With an established platform like Veracity, the focus is to provide everything “as a service” with a subscription model – like Netflix for example. This provides flexibility and transparency in relation to the costs of digital, and we believe this fits the volatility and often low margin business we live in.
On Veracity we have more than 30 validated providers that offer data, enabling services and value-added services, and we are constantly growing the network with new offerings based on customer needs. We also have more than 18,000 companies and 200,000 users across these companies, in total consuming more than 1,600,000 subscriptions. As such it is highly likely that you will find your business partners and stakeholders already digitally validated and interlinked within our platform. With these standardized data, connections, digital identities and APIs we make it easy for companies to collaborate, innovate and re-use them for multiple purposes.
What do you predict to be the major future digital trends in maritime?
Digital trends will form as a result of business requirements in the industry. For example, we can see that the increased requirements for environmental performance and reporting is pushing for data standardization, secure access and consent control of data, and the possibility to re-use data for different needs. Companies must now not only ensure proper collection and access to data, but also ensure its trustworthiness before providing secure access to it to legislative bodies, banks and others. This gives rise to the need for industry-wide data standards and secure interoperable platforms where “certified” data can be transacted and re-used securely by several parties. Questions relating to legal aspects of property and user rights will also need to be answered, as data will be used more frequently and in different forms and maturity by multiple stakeholders.
In addition, the remote management and control of vessels will be important themes. This will add real value from the outset and is an important step towards autonomy. We also expect to see more digital twins appearing from yards, makers and service providers. These have the potential to be refined, combined and re-used for purposes other than their initial intent, such as the ongoing optimization of operations.
Efficiency goals and cost savings are naturally also key drivers for becoming more data driven, as they offer the ability to achieve a competitive edge in the market. At DNV GL we work with some of the digital pioneers in the industry and have seen that, once they embark on the journey, they quickly find new opportunities to explore through the iterative process of transformation yielding new building blocks, patterns and ideas at every turn. In the years to come I think digital maturity in the industry will grow considerably because nobody can afford to be left behind. Even those inclined to lag will at least be pushed by compliance and “ticket to trade” requirements. Also, the technology is now so mature that it is possible for most to get started and get value with positive ROI “tomorrow”.
How is DNV GL and Veracity responding to these trends?
DNV GL has put digitalization at the heart of its strategy, with exciting work progressing in all business areas. We were pioneers when it comes to remote surveys and this became an important service as COVID-19 locked down large parts of the world this year. Automated MRV/DCS planning and reporting are other services to mention. These are immediate responses to the need for stricter environmental reporting by IMO and the EU – and ensure correct and efficient reporting for users.
In Veracity we are constantly looking at how we can improve our service offerings to the market. This year, we are launching several new products that will make it even easier for our customers to make use of the data that is available. One example is the Veracity Asset Connect – an asset centric hub and portal for managing the “truths” about your vessels, where you can plug in (and out) data, KPIs, notifications and services from different providers as your digital journey matures (like you sign on and off to B2C services like Netflix, as your preferences evolve). Veracity Deep Search is another product which helps you search text and data across large archives and documents, drawings and P&IDs. In addition, we have just launched Veracity Connected – a native mobile app that will give our customers the Veracity experience on their phones, from both a data capture and “making decisions on the move” perspective.
Nor-Shipping 2021 takes place at the 22,500 sq. m Norges Varemesse exhibition space in Lillestrøm and at a variety of venues across nearby Oslo from 1-4 June 2021. The event week will use its exhibition and activity programme to focus on the theme of #ACTION, showcasing who is doing what, and how, to unlock real value and achieve tangible industry success. A host of networking, knowledge sharing and social events are now being lined up for participants, ensuring that there’s something for everyone in Nor-Shipping’s diverse audience group (in 2019 participants were welcomed from over 85 countries, with exhibitors representing 47 different nationalities). Stay tuned for further developments!