maritime industry is cautiously optimistic about the global business
environment for world trade, but also concerned about the potential impact of
trade tensions, cyber security, fuel costs and other headwinds to industry
recovery, according to a new benchmark survey and study developed by the
Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network in partnership with Navis.
percent of survey participants anticipate either improved profitability over
the next 12 months or continued stabilization and reduced losses, according to
the Navis Business Bellwether report. Growth is expected to come from all
regions of the world, with particularly robust activity in Asia and the Middle
Business Bellwether report is intended to be an ongoing benchmark survey of the
shipping industry to monitor sentiment and priorities across a variety of
economic, business and operational issues. The inaugural survey was conducted
in September and October of 2018 and includes responses from more than 175
industry professionals and executives. The report also includes commentary from
select industry leaders.
“A return to
industry growth and improvements in shipping supply and demand have resulted in
increased optimism among maritime industry executives and professionals,” said
Dave Murray, head of thought leadership for the BPI Network. “At same time, the
industry appears to be very focused on raising operational performance and
profitability through improvements in process quality and efficiency and increased
investments in technology.”
While just 12
percent of respondents are “very optimistic” about the global business
environment, another 46 percent express cautious optimism. Some 41 percent say
they are either somewhat or very concerned.
this tempered optimism, Brian Hibbert, CIO of International Container Terminal
Services, said, “I would not expect a significant change in profitability in
the next 12 months. I expect more activity when it comes to mergers and
acquisitions in the terminal operating space as companies try to optimize their
portfolios to achieve a profitable position,” Hibbert said.
list of industry concerns is the rise in trade protectionism and new tariffs.
One third of all survey respondents said they were “extremely concerned” about
trade tensions, with another 36 percent saying they were concerned. Cyber
security was also high on the list, with 29 percent indicating extreme concern
and another 37 percent expressing concern.
percent of respondents were extremely concerned about an economic slowdown.
However, when assessing potential risks to the industry, economic growth ranked
high and just below trade protectionism.
risks include rising fuel costs, a lack of process efficiency, continued industry
consolidation, and labor disruption.
investments will increase over the next 12 months, according to the survey.
Some 90 percent of respondents said their organizations would raise technology
spending, including 56 percent who said the increase would be 6 percent or
greater. Adoption of new technologies was also cited as one of the top three
priorities of companies for improving performance, behind only improving
process efficiency and quality and bettering customer service and satisfaction.
The top areas
for increased technology spending, in descending order, include automation,
business intelligence, planning and management systems, big data analytics, and
SaaS applications and cloud services. Much discussed technologies like
Blockchain and IoT sensors were significantly lower on the priority list.