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Data is the new container: DP World

Container shipping is suffering severe inefficiencies thanks to its poor operational visibility and failure to make use of all the available data in everyday shipments, the group chairman and CEO of global terminal operator DP World has argued.

In a recent post on LinkedIn headlined Data is the New Container, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem urged both state and private sectors to come together to improve container shipping’s use of big data.

“[C]ontainers have transformed shipping for the better, but somewhere down the line we have lost sight of the goods housed within them,” the ports boss wrote, adding: “This lack of visibility has led to serious inefficiencies in today’s supply chain, with anxious retailers forced to order more than they need, earlier than they need, just in case.”

The article argued that the changes brought about technology sweeping through today’s shipping industry were as seismic as the moment in 1956 when Malcom McLean made containerisation mainstream.

“[I]f Malcom McLean could create order out of chaos with a steel container, then with governments and the private sector working hand-in-hand, we can do the same,” the DP World head urged.

Bin Sulayem said his company was currently “exploring the technologies and partnerships of the future”.

“With the world still waking up to the power of the data at our fingertips, we’re only just getting started,” the DP World executive concluded.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Good commentary by the Chairman of DP World .

    Yes, there is a lot of spare data washing about. What is missing is a reason to organise it in order to make use of it, and that reason is probably going to be “cutting slack out of the supply chain”.

    There is a prize to be won, here. A carrier who can get goods to where they are wanted with no delay in transit. (as opposed to “less delay in transit”) will win it.

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