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How communications can become the heart of a digital shipping strategy

Tim Bailey, EVP of Product, Marketing and Business Development, Speedcast Tim Bailey, EVP of Product, Marketing and Business Development, Speedcast

A new era of vessel operations requires relationships that generate value from end to end, writes Tim Bailey, EVP of Product, Marketing and Business Development, Speedcast

Digitalisation is having a profound impact on how shipowners and managers run their business and what they want from their technology partners. Perhaps the most important factor in designing a digital strategy is developing a clear understanding of your business goals.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}This is a new environment for providers of maritime connectivity, used to a market traditionally defined by commodity-based pricing of hardware and services. Since Speedcast and all of our competitors buy capacity from the same satellite operators and equipment from the same suppliers, it’s a market in which we cannot continue to compete based upon our network alone.

The need for new types of connectivity – and for a much broader range of services – has helped to create some separation between the suppliers who still think the old way and those with a clear vision of the future. If our customers are thinking in different ways, we need to have a view that extends months and years ahead in terms of operational needs or regulatory requirements.

At this higher level, what an owner or manager needs is not lower prices but better value. A long term communications partner like Speedcast will be distinguished from one that simply sees a short-term opportunity. This kind of company is still selling on what they have today, rather than what the customer needs.

Starting the conversation

The Speedcast approach is to always start with a two-way conversation. We want to understand where a customer is on their journey and how we can help take them from where they are to where they want to be.

If the customer can do what they need to with L-Band then we can deliver that solution. If they need full global VSAT with a service level agreement and value added services, then we can deliver that as well. Understanding the need and the strategy puts us in a position to support the business, whether it’s crew connectivity, IoT or a complete digital optimisation strategy.

With Speedcast Atlas, our fully managed end-to-end solution, the journey starts with Customer Experience Management, undertaking research and understanding what our customers want to achieve. We work side-by-side through solution concept to implementation, through all evolutions of their business to deliver a tailored solution design, system installation, analytics and optimisation, local field support and solution management.

Because requirements change – and are different across distinct sites and applications – they require a range of expertise and types of connectivity. This level of complexity requires 24/7 proactive support by a team that knows your network.

Making the connection

Our approach to this challenge starts and ends with the customer. Speedcast Atlas unites diverse connectivity resources into a single seamless network experience - a network of networks from both VSAT and L-Band services across more than 80 satellites and 40 teleports, augmented by fibre, microwave and LTE. They are managed by our built-in network management with comprehensive reporting tools that provide a complete view of network operations.

This facilitates control of onboard networks while also offering tools to reduce operating costs and keep the crew happy. Speedcast’s network management solution is able to run solutions or applications for cybersecurity, crew connectivity, entertainment, content distribution and more.

When we sat down to design the next generation of maritime connectivity, our conversations with customers convinced us that there was more value to offer than what was being offered by traditional service providers.

We believe there is an opportunity to combine the best in connectivity and customer support with professional services that enable owners and managers to leverage better communications to drive digital strategy.

A more professional approach

Companies are making significant investments in new technologies to achieve the goals of optimised operations and long term cost savings. The challenge is that less than half of CEOs surveyed by Gartner believe that digital investments are improving net profit. In fact, the majority say investments are too small and insufficiently transformational to capture the opportunities that digital presents. 

We believe that successful digitalisation hinges on having the right operating systems - not only the most advanced technologies. Our model of Consultative Engagement helps owners and managers better implement new technology to support business requirements, organisational setup and internal processes.

This includes not just network and systems integration but facilities such as an innovation and testing lab and consultancy on how to implement digitalisation and IoT strategies. New ideas on vessel performance optimisation, cost-saving strategies and support that deliver during a customer’s entire digital connectivity journey.

Despite the wave of digitalisation in the maritime sector, the evidence is that many shipowners are still all at sea when it comes to adopting systems and processes that can support a digital strategy. By focusing on the long term needs of our customers, Speedcast is able to assist in that journey and connect not just fixed and floating assets but help deliver solutions which go beyond connectivity and support their ultimate goals for business transformation. {/mprestriction}

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  • Connectivity demand booms as leisure vessels become safer, reports IEC Telecom

    Demand for faster and cheaper connectivity at sea is set to increase as sailing is recognised as a safer place to work, travel and holiday during the COVID-19 pandemic says satcom specialist IEC Telecom, which is experiencing an increase in enquiries from vessel operators in the maritime leisure sector.

    With ‘lockdowns’ and restrictions easing in some parts of the world, yacht owners are now able to enjoy ‘social distancing’ onboard their vessels, which is leading to a boost in demand for high-speed connectivity and increased bandwidth capacity. With the focus on social distancing, yachts are becoming increasingly attractive remote offices for those able to attend to business matters while enjoying the open sea, sunshine and fresh air. During this challenging time, sailors have an increased need to stay connected for both personal and operational purposes as well as to avoid the need to go ashore as much as possible.

    The signs are pointing to an upsurge in leisure boating. Yacht chartering is seen as one of the safest ways to enjoy a break at present due to the minimal contact charterers have with other people. Yachts are considered to be more hygienic, given the ratio of crew to guests and the exclusivity of being on a private boat. Affluent consumers are looking for getaways with fewer crowds, more privacy and the ability to gather privately with those closest to them. The Boat Affair platform (whose rentals are available in more than 60 countries) has seen a 23 per cent increase in requests from customers who traditionally would opt for a hotel vacation or a seaside resort but are now seeking a safer alternative. And, according to a new survey by LuggageHero, 25 per cent of travellers report they will try to avoid crowded commercial flights and public transportation in a post-coronavirus world.

    Meanwhile, in countries where travel is still restricted, many larger leisure boats and super yachts remain fully crewed and operational – also leading to increased need for connectivity as crews try to stay in touch with family and friends while conducting as many ship operations as possible via remote techniques. With crew restricted to remaining on the vessel in many places, higher speeds and larger bandwidth capacity is needed to provide leisure activities too.

    The leisure boat sector was initially hit hard by international lockdowns and is now incurring additional costs for deep cleaning, personal protective equipment, virus testing etc which are not generally reflected in the charter fees. As a result, systems which allow to optimise bandwidth consumption in order to reduce expenses on communication are proving popular with consumers looking to install or upgrade yacht connectivity systems.

    Gwenael Loheac, chief executive officer Western & Southern Europe for IEC Telecom said: “Data traffic on leisure vessels has increased during this crisis period because crew, vessel operators and passengers need to exchange information on a more regular basis. In response to COVID-19, we are seeing increased demand for flexible tariffs to enable leisure vessel operators to adapt quickly to fluctuating connectivity requirements. Fortunately, we are well-placed to meet these needs, having a wide portfolio of solutions designed to provide best user experience, while keeping communications costs at bay.

    IEC Telecom recently launched OneGate Marine Compact, a new lightweight digital solution with a network management system which provides full visibility over on-board network assets (both satellite and GSM) and enables vessel owners to control expenses and optimise consumption via a digital dashboard.

    Mr Loheac commented: “OneGate Marine Compact was developed to cater to all major requirements of the leisure boat sector – addressing their needs for speed, bandwidth and cost optimisation. OneGate Marine Compact is an agile, lightweight, highly-adaptable and easy-to-install digital communications system which gives complete access to the benefits of digital connectivity even on smaller vessels. At this challenging time this system is providing many of the answers yacht owners need to enable them to conduct online business and leisure activities safely and securely.”

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Digital Ship magazine provides the latest information about maritime satellite communications technology, software systems, navigation technology, computer networks, data management and TMSA. It is published ten times a year.


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