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Tips to avoid derailing your maritime and logistics digitalisation project

Logistics digitalisation has revolutionised maritime and logistics operations from traditional, manually intensive processes to streamlined, technology-driven systems. 

But here's a sobering fact: a lot of digitalisation projects end up going nowhere. Many of these initiatives fail to hit their targets, wasting time, effort, and investment. Thoughtworks found that while 74% of firms are constantly engaged in digitalisation projects, only 34% of CEOs report successful implementation.

So, how can you ensure a digital transformation success for your maritime business? Let's review the key strategies to prevent pitfalls and avoid derailing your logistics digitalisation progress.

Six key strategies to drive successful digital transformation in logistics 

Follow these six steps to ensure a successful digital implementation:

1. Establish a clear project management approach to prevent failure

Digital transformation efforts can become disorganised without a precise framework, straining resources and leading to missed opportunities. Start by setting clear, achievable goals aligned with your overall business strategy. For example, a logistics company might set a specific goal to reduce delivery times by 20% within two years through digitalisation.

Implement agile project management techniques in your digital transformation initiatives. This process involves breaking down projects into smaller, manageable tasks with frequent reassessments and adjustments. For instance, instead of overhauling your entire IT system immediately, start with one workflow and scale up based on feedback and results.

Next, develop a phased implementation plan with opportunities for evaluation and adjustment at each stage. For instance, you might start with digitising port call and docking schedules, then progress to automating cargo handling, inventory management, and other logistics processes.

⚓Learn how digital transformation is a driver for shipping efficiency.

2. Implement effective change management to ease technology adoption

A successful digital transformation project in the logistics industry requires a steady commitment to change management. Organisational change goes beyond just adopting new technologies. You should enable your company to adapt to a continuous process of ongoing transformation. 

A McKinsey report reveals:

  • 31% of digital transformation projects had their execution end dates changed once.
  • 28% experienced two changes in completion dates.
  • 19% saw three alterations in their timelines.

These numbers highlight the importance of having a change management process.

Consider the example of a maritime company implementing a digitalised port management system. Without effective change management, staff might not be willing to move away from familiar manual processes due to fear of the unknown or lack of confidence when using a new tool. Implementing a change management plan will help educate the users on using the new tool and its benefits, such as enhanced efficiency and better work satisfaction. 

This plan needs to involve clear communication about why the new system has been brought on board, the benefits of it, comprehensive training and continuous support to address potential concerns and feedback.

Internal champions of any new system are a great way to build trust from inside the business. Having a select group of highly trained users can be a critical success factor as everyday users will see the success that can come with full adoption and thus be more likely to succeed themselves.  

🛳️ Learn about the maritime technology revolution and its impact on digitalisation.

3. Ensure comprehensive training to foster digital literacy

Another primary reason digitalisation projects don't bear fruit is a lack of tech-savviness. This issue could be due to two reasons:

  1. Habituation to traditional legacy systems: Workers use outdated methods and technologies for communications, cargo management, and port operations. This deep-rooted familiarity creates a hesitance to transition to newer digital solutions, as there's a comfort in sticking to the known methods despite their inefficiencies.
  1. Lack of knowledge on using new technologies: When introducing new digital technologies, users may not fully understand how to operate them. Maritime professionals might only use these tools for essential tasks due to a lack of tech literacy.

To foster digital literacy, develop tailored training programs focusing on maritime-specific digital technologies. Regular workshops, webinars, and hands-on sessions facilitate this learning curve

4. Leverage scalable solutions for flexible digital growth

Does your digitalisation solution allow you to adapt as your business expands? Sedna, for example, offers scalable data-driven communication tools that grow with your maritime operations—whether shipbroking, chartering, freight forwarding, or trade execution.

Without scalable solutions, digitalisation efforts suffer due to the inability to handle increased workload and complexity as a business grows. Scalability ensures that your digital infrastructure supports expansion without needing constant overhauls or replacements. When selecting digital tools, opt for those that offer flexibility, integrate seamlessly with core business systems, and enhance your decision-making capabilities​​.

5. Prioritise cybersecurity to safeguard maritime operations

Inmarsat's survey reveals that almost 50% of approximately 200 maritime businesses have suffered cyber breaches. Cybersecurity is critical in the transport and logistics industry due to the sensitive nature of shipping data and the increasing reliance on digital platforms. A data breach has severe implications, from operational disruptions to reputational damage. 

Regularly update and test your security policies and measures to safeguard against evolving threats. Training staff on best practices in digital security and data privacy is also essential, as human error is often a vulnerability point.

6. Once live, maximise platform potential to enhance digitalisation benefits

To maximise the potential of your digital solution and ensure employees use them effectively, consider following these steps:

  • Targeted training: Offer specific training for each digital tool, like email and communication platforms, navigational systems, port management software, and cargo tracking tools. This way, you ensure employees are proficient in using these technologies.
  • Practical application: Encourage hands-on experience. For instance, if you’re using an AI email management platform like Sedna, start with basic training, gradually allowing users to learn to use its features.
  • Monitoring and feedback: Regularly assess how employees use these digital tools and gather feedback for continuous improvement. This approach helped companies like Glencore, where operators effectively doubled their vessel management capabilities post-adoption.
  • Support systems: Establish a support system for ongoing assistance and troubleshooting, helping employees adapt to digital changes seamlessly.

Supercharge your logistics digital transformation with Sedna

The right platform transforms raw data into actionable insights, driving better decision-making and strategic planning. Using Sedna's email management solution Stream, our client Norden reduced their internal email volume by 80% through intelligent routing. Norden's results show that effective data management streamlines maritime communications.

Our platform enhances operational efficiency, improves communication, and promotes collaboration. Our ability to integrate with existing systems ensures shipping companies leverage their digital infrastructure while adopting new technologies, facilitating a smoother transition. 

Book a demo to discover how Sedna enhances logistics digitalisation efforts. 

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