This week SEDNA looks to its in-house IT Shipping Expert, Kirk Wedge, for insight into the pain points of the shipping industry, the technological challenges facing it, and what makes SEDNA the simple solution for Shipping companies plagued by email. Read on for the full interview, and watch the video interview below for some extra insights!
Can you give us some of your career background Kirk, for those who might not know?
I have worked as an IT expert within shipping for over 30 years and provided systems for up to several hundred users onshore and even more at sea. I have worked in and managed many areas of IT: first-line support, operations, security, project management, development, infrastructure, and helping to define technology strategy together with management.
I have been blessed to enjoy a close and friendly working relationship with management and business users for most of my career. This has facilitated the free flow of information and enabled me to learn much about shipping as a business.
As part of this experience, I have seen what it looks like to have IT systems positively aligned with a business. Conversely, I have also observed how easy it is to get off track and how hard and expensive it can be to get back on the right track.
I have experienced many technological changes and seen fads come and go. Although there are obviously exciting new technological possibilities, mainly related to mobility, I consider the problem of systems in shipping to be basically the same as when I started more than 30 years ago.
Why do you think email is such a challenge for the shipping industry?
The biggest problem for Shipping to solve – the Holy Grail – is the extreme amounts of email the users must manage. I have helped achieve substantial integrations covering most aspects of the shipping business. Often we focused on pulling information from email into structured systems available on demand. For example, in the old days, every user in the company used to receive every noon report from every vessel. We changed that so users could look up noon reports as needed with the option to subscribe to certain vessels. Noon report data and ETA’s were updated automatically in the voyage management system, so users didn’t really need to see the reports unless something exceptional happened.
Despite the workarounds we created, our users continued to deal with massive amounts of email. Shipping professionals must constantly adjust and pivot to handle new opportunities and challenges as the world changes. The problem, however, is that these changes happen at high speed, and often, structured systems can’t keep up.
Looking back, I can confirm we would have been better off solving the email problem first, but there weren’t any good solutions for that. SEDNA changed that, and I wish we had it 20 years ago.
(Image Ref: Unsplash)
You mentioned being a catalyst for G2 Ocean adopting SEDNA during your video interview, can you tell us more about that?
G2 Ocean was the result of a merger between two established shipping companies. This merger meant that the IT department only had about 5 months to build a complete portfolio of integrated and automated systems.
One of the initial decisions was to go 100% cloud-based and to use a well-known email platform. It quickly became apparent, however, that traditional email platforms are not suitable for the archiving needs of a company that gets thousands of emails a day. A good archive is a must for any shipping company. Not having good archiving capabilities is inefficient and risky. Luckily, SEDNA came along with its automatic tagging and lightning-fast search so, it was a perfect fix for the archiving challenges.
While evaluating SEDNA, we noted that there was an additional cost on top of what we were already paying for our current email platform, which was basically free. I checked with one of our best operators and asked if she could justify the monthly cost of SEDNA. She said she would save that much every day with SEDNA. For me, that sealed the deal.
What was the experience of working with SEDNA during this technical transition at G2 Ocean?
SEDNA operates on the bleeding edge of technology, so working with them always gave us good ideas at G2 that we could use in other areas of IT. Furthermore, SEDNA has always been one of my favorite vendors to work with, and why I am working with them today. SEDNA employees are highly talented, professional, and, not the least, pleasant to work with. They quickly understand the challenges to be solved and provide solutions that help the users save time in their busy days.
(Image Ref: Unsplash)
What do you think about SEDNA’s ability to integrate and use contextual data?
Automatic tagging based on a system of record—such as a voyage management system—saves the users a lot of time previously spent on managing folders. Multiply that by the number of users who each maintain their private folder structures, and the time savings can be enormous.
SEDNA can be configured to pull up contextual information besides emails. For example, SEDNA Link can present schedules, cargo recaps, vessel descriptions, etc relevant to a message without forcing the user to leave the email to look up information elsewhere. Power users, I have spoken with, often mention that they can do just about everything they need without having to leave SEDNA.
Why do you think email—and thus SEDNA— is a competitive advantage?
For shipping and logistics companies, there is the essential element of speed. They must respond quickly, and it’s important to know all emails are handled—a missed email can be very costly.
Because SEDNA can make an entire company’s email available to anyone who needs it, it becomes a vital business intelligence tool. Some even use SEDNA as a CRM and can avoid slow and often unorganized file storage solutions such as Sharepoint.
Using SEDNA, managers can easily get an overview of how their company operates. That transparency helps to provide a basis for further improvements in business processes and customer service.