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Digital transformation in shipping needs business transformation – Andre Simha

Information technology has been truly transformative and a game changer especially in the last decade for the shipping and freight industry.. However, the implementation of these technologies requires focus, dedication, and determination, especially when tech jargon like digitization, digitalization, and digital transformation is thrown around at random confusing users.. 

Shipping and Freight Resource caught up with Andre Simha, Global Chief Digital & Innovation Officer at MSC and Chairman of the DCSA Supervisory Board as part of the Executive Insights series to discuss the issues surrounding transformative technology, DCSA members’ commitment, electronic bills of lading and digital standards..

Key executive insights from Andre Simha

1) On Transformative Technology: In the past, technology was really transformative and game-changing. INTTRA in 2001 was the first e-business platform that our industry had ever seen and we all had to adapt to that. So, like in any transformational journey, digitalization needs buy-in and contributions from the people it affects and this can’t happen in isolation

2) On DCSA members’ commitment: The commitment by DCSA members to 100% eBL adoption by 2030 is an incredible commitment to adopt digitalization. This commitment is really a very significant step forward for us and our customers towards paperless and frictionless trade.

3) On Electronic Bills of Lading: The bill of lading is obviously the most important document in shipping, so being able to digitalize that end to end, including all the other trade documents as we progress, will make international trade more efficient, more reliable, secure, sustainable and of course less, susceptible to illegal activities.

eBLs will reduce costs across the board, and provide a better experience for shippers who will be able to choose any eBL platform based on service levels and capabilities so they can still maintain the ability to exchange electronic documents with carriers, banks, and other parties, even if they are on different platforms. 

4) On DCSA Standards: The definition of the eBL that carriers are committing to is DCSA standard-based eBL, which is a framework for the collection, processing, and analysis of digital data used in the end-to-end documentation processes. So it’s not just a PDF document that people are sending each other by e-mail. 

Not only are the DCSA digital standards there to drive digitalization and interoperability, but also to lay the foundations and a framework to measure the digitalization progress

5) On measurement metrics: What we’re using today is very simple. In the case of MSC, we look at the number of original bills of lading that are issued, we look at the number of E bills of lading that are issued and we come up with a percentage and that’s how we’re going to measure the evolution for this particular document, and then as we add other documents

6) On Digitization, Digitalization, and Digital Transformation: Digitization is converting analog information into digital format, like, for example, scanning old photographs, storing them in the cloud, and then sharing them with your family and in the case of an organization it doesn’t really change how we work. So we were not just creating a digitized PDF version of the bill of lading or an invoice here, we are talking about digitizing the entire process. 

Digitalization is the next milestone in that road map as it requires us to make the processes digital as well and not just the documents if we continue on this example we wanted to digitalize the whole process of the bill of lading management and we wanted to replicate the manual processes to make it simple for people to adopt. 

So you’re not changing completely the way people work, but you need to update your internal systems, introduce new workflows across the business

Digital transformation is something that is quite different. It’s about business transformation. A company can consider itself digitally transformed when the customer’s value proposition, the value-added processes, and the working methods have all been redefined to make use of the technology and find new ways of creating value or opportunities to serve, maybe also a new set of customers in a way that hasn’t been done before, that’s the digital transformation part. 

7) On digitalization and the new age workforce: The two tasks of digitalization and decarbonization and the development of this workforce is going to be very is going to be crucial in the years to come.

Diversity and inclusion is something which is extremely important, particularly to unlock innovation partly because innovation is about bringing new ideas and generating value for customers, and elevating the importance of diversity along all those dimensions, whether it is culture, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age, experience, and even educational background.

The new-age workforce needs to have curiosity. Curiosity is very important. You need to be somebody who likes to solve problems, who likes to think out of the box, and who has good collaboration skills because you need to collaborate to make things work. 

It is really a mix of diversity, the ability to learn, fast, adapt to the environment, and of course, acquire or develop some of the soft skills that are necessary. 

Listen to the full interview here

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Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiar
I am Hariesh Manaadiar, the Founder of Shipping and Freight Resource.. I have been in the dynamic shipping and freight industry for over three decades and have worked in several sectors.. I share my experiences and knowledge of the industry through this blog for those looking for help in the industry.. Stay subscribed for more free useful content about shipping, freight, maritime, logistics, supply chain and trade..


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