The 4th Smart Maritime Network Athens Conference (SMN Athens 2023) was held on May 10th at the BLE Pavilion in Alimos, with the participation of top executives from shipping companies and major technology firms in the industry.
AMMITEC ( the Association of IT Managers in Shipping) organized a panel discussion on the new role of IT in the era of digital transformation in shipping. The discussion was moderated by Stelios Sampanis, IT Director at Gaslog and a member of the Board of Directors of Ammitec. The panelists were IT leaders from major shipping companies: Dimitris Pavlidis (Euronav), Ioannis Rizos (Millenia), Theophano Somaripa (Newport), and Themistocles Sardis (Costamare), President of Ammitec.
The keynote speakers and panel discussions, featuring prominent experts in the field, focused on exploring the challenges and opportunities that arise in the context of the maritime industry’s digital transformation. The discussions covered sustainability, innovation, investment opportunities, compliance with regulations, new developments in satellite communications and data standardization.
The discussion highlighted the new strategic role of the IT Manager, which has evolved from purely technical and supportive to becoming a pilot in the enterprise’s digital transformation.
The shipping industry is facing the impact of a rapidly changing landscape, with the digital transformation as its main reference point. The need for increased efficiency, reduced pollution, and compliance with international regulations, is driving shipping companies to adopt innovative solutions with Data technologies (BI, Analytics) and Artificial intelligence (AI) at their core.
Senior IT executives have the advantage and opportunity to lead this transformation, as they possess the multifaceted knowledge of available technological solutions to design and define the strategy for the digital transformation of their business. The IT Manager is working closely with management, providing valuable information through data analysis and business intelligence, selecting cutting-edge solutions that align with the company culture, leveraging the latest advancements in technologies such as AI and cloud computing and helping ensure their successful implementation. At the same time, it is crucial to take necessary precautions to prevent the business from being vulnerable to cyber-attacks as the reliance on technology continues to grow.
The difficulty in finding specialized IT professionals with expertise in areas such as Data Analytics, Cyber Security, Development, Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning was also noted during the discussion. Despite IT being the champion in the job market and there is now fertile ground for both work and professional development, demand is high but unfortunately, supply is still low.
Participants discussed the need for acquiring new skills that are not so much related to technical issues, but to so-called “soft skills”, such as administrative skills, project management, budgeting, and data analysis. There was extensive discussion about the Covid period and how digital readiness, and available teleworking and cloud infrastructure solutions helped the shipping industry to continue providing services safely so that the transport of goods was not interrupted.
Finally, the participants highlighted the need for equal participation of women in administrative positionsin technological roles and pointed out the gap that still exists, both in lower-level positions and in leadership roles.