Shipping companies are realising the benefits of investing in faster connectivity and better bandwidth for their fleets, leading to a surge in new VSAT installations and contract renewals in recent years.
Ships are becoming remote offices at sea with more reliable internet availability, voice over IP, email, virtual networks and instant messaging.
This growth area in digital communications technology is set to continue for the next few years, but those with a longer-term focus will be questioning where future growth will come from.
As I see it, now is the time to invest in online applications that can revolutionise shipping operations on the back of the increase in VSAT bandwidth.
In this decade, we have seen exponential growth in the number of ships installing VSAT, with usage growing from a few thousand to more than 25,000 users, as more mainstream Ka-band and Ku-band services have come online.
As more owners connect ship systems to the internet, there will be huge volumes of performance and condition data to process and interrogate. Too much for humans to digest.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is where shipping needs to turn next. Computers can process data far more quickly than people, and as machine learning algorithms gain greater levels of intelligence, shipowners who have invested in AI will find competitive advantages.
And for those willing to risk higher levels of investment, there exists the potential for greater rewards to come from AI and its big data analytics capabilities.
The UK Government recognised this in its Maritime 2050 strategy which sets out where the nation's shipping-related investments should be focused. The 30-year plan included AI, blockchain and other digitalisation applications as areas of focus.
Shipping companies and service providers hoping to cash in on the growth market need a long term plan that includes AI and fleet digitalisation delivered through faster broadband communications. Forward thinking companies will invest in AI now to be ready for the exponential growth that will follow.
So don't miss the boat, get on board the AI liner now.