Labour and assets are needed to digitalise processes, underpinned by improving customer experience, Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) chief executive Thomas Bagge told Container Shipping & Trade
DCSA was established this year, after first being announced in November 2018, to drive digitalisation in the container ship sector, namely through creating standardisation and interoperability through the industry. The aim is to create common information technology standards to make the industry more efficient for both customers and shipping lines.
Members are Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd, MSC, ONE, CMA CGM, Evergreen Line, Hyundai Merchant Marine, Yang Ming and Zim.
Former Maersk executive Thomas Bagge heads up the neutral, non-profit organisation as chief executive and statutory director.
Mr Bagge explained to Container Shipping & Trade “I always look at comparable industries and journeys they have been through. If you look at empirical evidence of digitalisation in the banking and telecom industries and compare these to the container sector, you can see the container industry assets are not very digital, the labour is not very digitalised, and processes are not very digitalised.”
This leaves a gap that needs to be filled. Mr Bagge said “So when we look outside in at container shipping, there is a lot of potential for digitalising the industry. That is the background we are looking at.”
While digitalising processes, labour and assets are needed, this is all underpinned by improving customer experience. Mr Bagge underlined “First and foremost for me this is about the customer experience. The container shipping industry is not a great customer experience when compared to other industries.”
He said while container liner companies have moved “significantly from where they were and are offering a better experience than previously, they is still lagging behind other sectors.”
He summed up “For me it is about creating a better customer experience and then enabling cost savings and better product innovation.”
Since the DCSA was established, it has focused on creating strong foundations, such as having a legal entity, office representation and hiring people. It has established its headquarters in Amsterdam.
DCSA is also creating an industry blueprint and has already made a start on industry standards which will make a difference. Mr Bagge explained “Collectively the members DCSA represents spend billions on IT. The majority of what they spend is used maintaining and running existing infrastructure and organisation – that is just to keep the wheels going. They spend a relatively smaller degree on innovation and creating new products and solutions”.
He said a major reason for so much focus on existing infrastructure is that several different standards are used.
Mr Bagge pointed out that it is much more difficult to maintain thousands of standards rather than one. He said “Instead of having many different types of notifications of arrival from shipping lines to their clients, we have now created one message agreed by carriers that this is the way they would like to communicate arrival notifications to clients.
“While implementation may take a while, it is a step in the right direction. It will help them reduce the cost of maintenance and they can take the money and reinvest elsewhere, such as in innovation.”