Looking back on 2020 reveals a year packed with extraordinary challenges. A global pandemic upended markets, and enterprises had to adapt rapidly, embracing dynamic workflows to meet rising tides of risk, volatility, uncertainty, and extended remote work. While it’s safe to say that no sector was exempt from these challenges, the year’s events washed in a highly unique set of obstacles for the commercial maritime shipping industry.

Today, we reflect on what has come to pass, how it drove our industry to improve, and how attrition made us ready for what the future has in store for us in 2021. 2020 earned a spot in history as one tough year, but it’s in hindsight that we can truly discover how it made us better.

Let’s examine how 2020 drove the commercial maritime shipping industry to enhance its resilience, better serve diverse stakeholder needs, and transform businesses with data.

Enhancing Resilience

The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it global lockdowns and the suspended use of typical office spaces. Workers moved from their routine on-premises systems to a motley landscape of personal machines and networks struggling to maintain remote access. Frustrating middleware, challenging system incompatibilities, and disjointed workflows became pronounced under the pressure of extended remote work. But with this difficulty came a powerful demonstration of the value of connectivity. Simplifying remote work through web-based solutions armed organizations with continuous access, rich digital collaboration, and cross-functional continuity.

Newfound resilience was required for more than just remote access, of course, as the pandemic created waves of global market turmoil and volatility across many bulk commodity sectors. Maritime shipping organizations depended upon dynamic, timely connections to market feeds and indices to stay agile and profitable amid unanticipated shifts in exposure and narrowed windows of opportunity. Strong connections between market data and commercial solutions improved chances for success, and organizations that maintained strong market visibility while making daily decisions were more resilient as market evolutions unfolded. In addition, outsized volatility underscored the need for more proactive management of freight and fuel exposure, a practice that has become increasingly important over the last several years.

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Serving Diverse Stakeholders

As stakeholders dispersed to remote locations, their essential and highly unique roles in daily workflows became extremely apparent. So too did the tools they require in order to work as efficiently and effectively as possible. In 2020, dynamic maritime shipping organizations began to explore tools, workflows, and integrations tailored to their diverse needs. For example, charterers working remotely require a clear line of sight into open positions, advanced capabilities to help them evaluate and book the best possible opportunities, and dynamic workspaces to collaborate with colleagues on complex estimates. Conversely, marine logistics professionals require insight into production sites’ evolving business needs, particularly when demand shifts without warning. In addition, they stand to benefit from centralized knowledge to provide production planners a continuous view of VC In status. In 2021, this role specific approach can help shipowners, operators, tonnage charterers, and commodities traders embrace a more intentional and impactful adoption of digital technologies.

In addition to serving each stakeholder individually, 2020 also required maritime shipping organizations to serve stakeholders collectively by harmonizing their cross-functional workflows. For example, the estimates created by charterers must flow seamlessly to operators who manage the execution of those estimates. Berth activity must be visible to supply chain leaders, who are focused on managing costs and maximizing efficiency. The unifying theme, no matter the function, is harnessing flexible business rules to configure a dynamic, data-driven workflow that enables new efficiency, continuity, and insight for your entire organization. 

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Transforming Through Data

Together, 2020’s remote operations and enhanced volatility revealed data and process gaps that were not as visible or pronounced in previous years. Challenging market conditions led maritime shipping organizations to search for new ways to reduce costs and maximize profitability. As a result, there was an intensified focus on data standardization and governance within the enterprise. This focus will continue in 2021. A key obstacle to this standardization, however, is system integration. 2020 brought a focus on deep, data-driven connections between commercial solutions and enterprise technologies like CTRMs, ETRMs, accounting systems, ERPs, and more.

But strong system integrations do more than simply keep enterprises informed. The standardized and structured data they provide enable maritime shipping organizations to remain at the forefront of shifting market and business realities thanks to timely and action-ready insights that transform decision making. Enterprises that took 2020 to strengthen their integration landscape will find themselves best prepared to navigate uncharted waters moving forward.  

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Step Confidently into the Future of Maritime Commerce with VIP

As a dynamic platform for the commercial management of marine fleets and cargoes, the Veson IMOS Platform (VIP) empowers the maritime world’s diverse stakeholders with the information and tools they need to make the right decisions at the right time. VIP pairs proven business logic with an agile, cloud-based architecture that supports the global accessibility, advanced data sharing, and seamless integration required by today’s enterprises on both sides of the marine contract. Interested in learning more? Contact Veson today.