Shipping faces serious disruption unless it learns to embrace new technology: Wärtsilä

“Round the corner, coming at a pace we can’t yet predict, is a whole raft of new technology.” If shipping fails to adapt, others will disrupt the current players. That’s the view of Marco Ryan, the chief digital officer at Finnish tech firm Wärtsilä, speaking on the sidelines of the Shipping 2030 conference held in Copenhagen. Ryan, currently penning a book on digital transformation, said: “The challenge around digitisation is I don’t think people realise the pace of change that is coming.”

He said it was vital shipping companies got what he described as the “hygiene factors” right to ensure firms have a more agile culture, are able to work across current business lines better, building products to be more modular, and having more consistent data to hand.

Listing the likes of mesh and quantum computing, different types of connectivity, the hyperloop and blockchain, Ryan said all of these developments will impact the whole sea economy and the way that assets whether onshore or at sea interact.

“If we are a closed system, if we only focus on our own little world we are going to get disrupted by something we have not predicted,” Ryan concluded.

Prior to joining Wärtsilä last September, Ryan has held many senior tech roles including the position of chief digital officer at travel firm Thomas Cook.

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.
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