The Pandemic Accelerated Digital Transformation of Maritime Industry

A recent report “A Changed World” by Gardner, Kenney and Chubb from Inmarsat states that COVID-19 pandemic had a huge influence in the speed of digitalization in maritime industry. As pointed out in Port Technology news, the report estimates the spending on maritime digital products and services to be 18 % ahead of forecasts done before the pandemic.


Digital transformation in theory and in practice

After big talks about digitalization in maritime industry, the actual reality has often been more modest, as barriers such as change resistance, legacy issues or skill gaps have delayed the development. The global pandemic forced the maritime community, like many others, to embrace the new ways of working. Suddenly it was normal to use digital tools and operate remotely whenever possible. The report describes COVID-19 as a universal disruptor and catalyst for digital transformation.

It is still important to remember that digital transformation is much more than just scanning papers into digital formats. It consists of changing workflows and operations so that the whole logistic chain is utilizing digitalization efficiently. Even though many barriers were naturally lowered by the pandemic, many steps need to be taken to achieve the transformation, starting from standardization of the data flows, the researchers remind.

One example of speeding up the digitalization comes from port operations. Ports which already had digital tools in place gained benefits when the pandemic forced the port personnel to work remotely and make operations as smooth as possible. Many ports have sped up their planned investments to close the gap. For example, Just-In-Time arrival and Port Single-Window systems are ways to improve the efficiency in the port operations.


Collaboration is needed to make the change

The report describes how the UK is concentrating on maritime digitalization with maritime trade and technology as the primary growth areas. The governmental strategy, Maritime 2050, has ambitious targets but already now companies from the UK are strongly represented among the maritime technology businesses. Government’s initiatives are speeding up the development even further by boosting innovation.

Success in the UK is a good reminder of the fact highlighted in the report: True digital transformation requires cooperation in regulation, standardization, and data sharing. The competition in the maritime industry is global, hence the resistance of sharing best practices can somehow be understood. That being said, the challenges brought by the pandemic and climate change, and the urgent need for digital transformation and decarbonization are also global, so collaboration in and between the continents is the only way to change the world.


Interested in port digitalization?

Fortunately, you are not alone in the quest on more digital future of port industry. Book on online demo meeting with GISGRO specialist to discuss more about how digital technology can help to boost your port’s asset management and operations. Team GISGRO has over 10 years of experience in port digitalization and survey projects. Simply contact Ville directly or book a time suitable for you from the calendar.

Ville Mäkeläinen


+358 44 513 2222


Book online demo