Port Strategy: Shaping the Future: Part 2


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This article was published in the May issue of Port Strategy in 2020.


Im zweiten Teil der Serie stellen Matthew Wittemeier und Dr. Eva Savelsberg von der INFORM GmbH neue Technologietrends für das Jahr 2020 dar.

Wir knüpfen dort an, wo wir letzten Monat in Teil 1 aufgehört haben, nämlich bei der Erkundung neuer Technologien, die die Zukunft unserer Industrie bereits prägen oder noch prägen werden. Haben Sie den ersten Teil über die im Fokus stehenden Technologien bereits gelesen? Falls nicht, lohnt es sich dies im ersten Schritt zu tun. Allerdings kann Teil 2 auch als eigenständiger Artikel gelesen werden.

Teil 2 konzentriert sich auf die strategischen Trends, die unter anderem auch dabei helfen, die Kommunikation rund um die Technologie im maritimen Sektor zu gestalten.

Dieser Artikel ist ausschließlich in englischer Sprache erhältlich.


What we learned in 2019 was influenced by our work with 2038: A Smart Port Story. Throughout 2019, we brought out Parts 2 and 3 of 2038, and it is in these parts that we had the unique ability to move beyond just talking about technology to really explore its impact on humans, society, and the interaction between them. It was in these broader social and strategic trends that we also see a true ability for our industry to shape, and be shaped by, technology as possible solutions to challenges familiar and new.


There are three strategic technology trends that are worth retaining a focus on in 2020: ecosystems, data standards, and the rise of APIs. None of these items should come as a surprise, but they are all worth a quick recap, nonetheless.


If 2018 was the year of blockchain in the port industry, 2019 was most certainly the year of the Port Community System (PCS). As an example, PCSs are one example of two “ecosystem” trends that are worth pointing out, but first, let’s define “ecosystem.” The dictionary defines an ecosystem as a group of interconnected and interacting parts.

The first ecosystem trend to note is the rise of the interconnection of the physical port environments (i.e., if you physically work at a port, you connect your IT systems to the broader network). Many PCSs are leveraging the ecosystem approach to collect and share data leading to improved overall ecosystem efficiency. This, by all accounts, is a good outcome.

The second ecosystem trend that is propelling technology conversations forward are models emerging from some of the major technology providers that are painting a picture of a single-technology ecosystem. Again, in principle, this sounds like a great outcome. However, it’s worth taking a small, science detour.

Let’s start by noting that the definition of an ecosystem doesn’t indicate that an ecosystem is good or bad – just that it is. This should be our starting point in understanding the trend. Remember, our natural environment is an ecosystem, and it includes many things that are harmful like viruses and volcanos (we hope it is a coincidence that they both start with a “v”). Science tells us that an ecosystem that isn’t balanced that provides an overly favorable environment for any single part tends to lead to a bad outcome whereby that single part eventually disrupts the ecosystem in a negative way.

Science lesson finished, that brings us back to the proposed technology ecosystems. If they are a proprietary system that is designed to enable a single vendor greater influence, then we’d argue that these are, in fact, not a good thing. But, if designed well, where all parts, all vendors, terminal operators, ports, etc., have a shared input and can gain a comparable benefit, then these technology ecosystems could be the solution we so desperately need to address the dataexchange challenges facing our industry.

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