Beyond the Pandemic: Role of ICT in the Shipping Industry

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted and heightened the reliance on information and communication technologies (ICT) for industries globally.

ADVANTUM facilitated a panel discussion at the 20th Caribbean Shipping Association Executive Conference featuring a cross-section of professionals in ICT and the shipping industry. The discussion was centered on the role of ICT in the shipping industry beyond the pandemic.

Today we share highlights of the panelists’ top thoughts on the role ICT has played and will continue to play in their areas of operation.

ICT & Port Community Systems

Jamaica implemented a port community system in the Port of Kingston in 2017. The Port Community System is a neutral and open electronic platform enabling intelligent and secure exchange of information between public and private stakeholders in the port community. It is a single window that manages all the trade, logistics and business processes that will improve the competitive position of the sea and air ports.

Dwain Powell, Director, Port Community System Operator at The Port Authority of Jamaica shares that collaboration among port stakeholders is the most important component of a PCS implementation. “With the global importance of logistics and supply chains within the pandemic era, a strategic and focused approach to building out resilient, robust and interconnected Ports is utmost for LAC countries – that are most vulnerable to these global shocks.”

ICT & Customs Agencies

ICT has been one of the most integral components in modernizing the operations and related services of Customs Agencies towards increased facilitation of legitimate trade and the protection of a country’s borders.

Andre Williams, chief information officer at the Jamaica Customs Agency, shares on the role ICT plays in advancing customer experience.

“The re-engineering of our business processes towards increased use of automation has allowed for integration with the PCS, Other Government Agencies and key partners within the logistics and supply chain.  This has resulted in reduced time, cost and complexity while increasing the ease of doing business for our traders and other business interests to satisfy Customs and regulatory requirements for faster clearance of cargo,” says Williams.

He adds, “The Customs technology-driven ecosystem simplifies and standardizes procedures for our customers and partnering Border Regulatory Agencies, reduces waiting time, provides more accurate and consistent data for risk-assessment and tax calculations among others, and addresses revenue leakage, through enhanced system controls, transparency, and accountability.”

ICT and Shipping Agents

Rhett Chee Ping, managing director of Gordon Grant and GG Logistics, addresses how ICT enhances the business process for Shipping Agents.

For Chee Ping, a major aspect is the time saved especially through the facilitation of Work-From-Home or anywhere. “During the pandemic ICT allowed Agents to seamlessly transition from office to home without compromising service to clients or our obligation to Regulatory Agencies. There is also a better use of resources not having to leave the office, home or sit in traffic for hours to get crucial tasks completed.”

Chee Ping also highlighted the transparency and accountability that comes with using ICT, “With ICT there is an electronic trail of what is required and clients along with their brokers know when and where their cargo is at all times or what might be the delays.” Chee Ping encouraged all stakeholders to get on board!

ICT, People and Culture

“Every technology project is a change management project,” says Glaister Leslie, Technology Strategist and Consulting Manager at Voiant, who has worked in over 12 countries worldwide.

He shares that the companies most successful at adapting new ICT systems often employ a few key principles:

“They view technology as a way to help their people become more, not just as a way to cut operational costs. They clearly define the problem they’re trying to solve, before implementing new technology. Next, they communicate widely and frequently to all teams and departments impacted by the change, and make sure their needs are heard. They also don’t try to get it perfect the first time, instead, they focus on quick, impactful wins, and keep iterating until they solve more and more problems.”

ICT and Cyber Security

Cyber Security is a crucial aspect of any discussion surrounding ICT. As systems become more integrated, they become more susceptible to cyber-attacks which can cost losses in the millions to companies affected.

John Gibson, Information Security and Technology Services Specialist emphasizes that, “Information and Cyber Security is a journey, a journey in risk management and continuous improvement.”

Gibson explains, “Organizations must make the appropriate investment based on their risk appetite in a security aware workforce. This includes adopting and implementing the right policies, procedures, framework, and standards; and implementing the right type and amount of technology to mitigate current and future risks.”

He adds, “Board and Management must allocate necessary budgetary funding for the Information Security Program separately from their regular IT Network Infrastructure and maintenance budget.”

ADVANTUM ICT Solutions for Shipping Industry

ADVANTUM CEO Frances Yeo points out that the ADVANTUM software allows connections with all areas of business operations, so all departments can share and process information simultaneously. For example, Freight Forwarders using the ADVANTUM Freight software can manage their air and sea cargo manifest, automate billing and invoicing, automate delivery order generation and submit electronic manifest to the PCS, Customs and other relevant stakeholders.

Yeo summed up the presentation of the ICT and shipping professionals through these 5 Ps: People, Paperless, Public-Private Partnerships, Proactivity, and Phased.

“ICT at heart is all about people, making our tasks simpler, more efficient and bringing us closer together. It also has the advantage of being paperless, saving costs both to ourselves and the environment. Key to our success as an industry is our public-private partnerships in developing robust systems to meet the needs of all stakeholders. Proactivity is critical in our approach to cyber and information security and keeping up to date with technology trends. We must also remember that with ICT, implementation should be phased and change management procedures employed to ensure successful completion of any ICT project.”

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Originally published in Caribbean Maritime Magazine Issue 46.