By Ryan Skinner (email)
A couple months ago I was talking to a very clever guy at The Containership Company who was describing for me the challenges of using data to improve ship operations. He basically said: the equations get too complex, too quickly and the solutions aren't sophisticated enough to calculate knock-on effects fleetwide. In short, data's great, but we're not where we can act on it yet.
Contrast this with the pleas from god-knows-how-many entrepreneurs and small businessmen with analytics tools promising shipowners to create massive efficiencies through smarter decisions. If only...., then my man John Konrad (@gCaptain) came through:
One compelling entrepreneur, Tom Stitt of Staxxon (you know, those ingenious folding containers), took the data challenge to the heart of geekville: SXSW Interactive. This annual event in Austin, Texas draws the who's who of nerds and the marketers who cling to them. He wanted the geeks to see shipping as a kind of social media, and apply their algorithms to containers as if they were facebook friends or twitter connections.
Pin a medal on Stitt, somebody. While 99.9% of these coders are more interested in LOL-cats than container traffic, all it takes is to light a fire in the fingertips of one of these dudes and you can change an industry. If Stitt's managed to do just that, we have good things to look forward to.
With an event this autumn, I'm hoping for an earthquake. I caught wind of a new event from Jon Chaplin of TradeWinds months ago, and now it's a reality: SmartShipping. If I've read the signals from TradeWinds and ShipServ (the team behind it) correctly, they're eager to put the focus on big data. That is, how can we accelerate all of these efforts to use data and analytics to leap ahead, in terms of fleet efficiency?
I particularly fell for the words of ShipServ CEO Paul Østergaard: "I think SmartShipping has nothing to do with size. It's not about being the biggest; it's about being the smartest. In fact, a lot of the technologies we're looking at enable smaller companies to gain some of the scaling advantages of larger companies." Words to warm enterpreneurs' hearts...
Here's the full video:
That ShipServ and TradeWinds are behind this can be no accident. What ShipServ is doing to apply data to the supplier side of the industry (traderank, peer review, etc.), TradeWinds seems willing to do for operations. At least, it may be a start for TradeWinds.
It's going down in Singapore in October, and it's apparently where the smartshipping crowd will be. Wish I could be there.