It is very clear from the experiences of other industries that for the ocean shipping industry to gain the efficiencies and cost savings that technology can offer, there needs to be interoperability and standards. “Doing it ‘my way,’ ” as Frank Sinatra sang, has been common practice in technology development in the ocean industry. Usually, this amounts to many duplicated systems, efforts and costs that do not provide carriers and their shipping partners with a long-term scalable solution.
Research clearly indicates one of the most effective strategies to improve collaborative business processes between supply chain partners is to leverage standards and networks to implement and streamline mission critical processes.
Although ocean carriers compete with each other and may have proprietary electronic connections with shipping partners, at first, as an early advantage, competition is only one factor when considering how the ocean supply chain operates. The industry is a complex system with the operations of multiple partners depending on each other for information. Cooperation on standards and leveraging industry-based networks that simplify connectivity between shipping partner systems provide the best solution for working together, improving the use of software and the capability to respond to change.
Open standards are no stranger to the shipping industry. The standard container and tremendous capital investment in assets and infrastructure have created a massive shared physical network that is highly interoperable and highly scalable.
The industry simply needs to ensure that open standards and interoperability are leveraged in the digital world to the same degree as in the physical world. In 2011, more shipping partners will connect to network-based solutions that will offer a greater range of tools, services and connections that will benefit all users, adding value to the ocean supply chain faster.