In conversation with Daniel Vikstrom, Vice President Marine Services – Middle East and South Asia, Inchcape Shipping Services:
Could you tell us a bit on the second version of Inchcape’s World of Ports digital service?
World of Ports was first launched in 2007 and has been available online since 2010. The service was born out of an initial request from a customer for a dataset that their chartering team could work with to provide a port dataset to aid the vessel-to-berth compatibility process. From there we launched a solution that now serves as a single source of trusted data for all our customers spanning oil and gas majors, shipping companies and ship managers globally.
World of Ports 2.0, released last month, covers 4,600 ports, 16,000 terminals and 36,000 individual berths around the world.
World of Ports 2.0, released last month, covers 4,600 ports, 16,000 terminals and 36,000 individual berths around the world. In addition to the improved user interface, we’ve split it into four modules with loads of new features that can really help enhance customers’ competitive advantage.
What differentiates this from other port intelligence providers is that the data is collected directly from Inchcape’s worldwide agency network, verified by a centralised team of data analysts with seafaring backgrounds and managed by a master mariner with first-hand knowledge of both risks and practical issues.
What are the key challenges concerning the shipping industry now?
The key challenges that all service providers in the maritime industry face, relates to fluidity of the situation, and the generally compressed demand side for consumer goods leading to less shipping activity. The latter challenge is obvious, where our customers in most segments will need to compete over a smaller slice of the cake. The fluidity, or uncertainty that we see these days, is making normal planning and looking ahead, extremely difficult. We see rule changes for people movements — both domestically, and internationally — almost daily. This has a direct effect on us as port agents, as a big part of our service portfolio relates to assisting crew for embarkation or disembarkation.
What is your outlook for Inchcape’s operations in the Middle East, especially the UAE, in the next one year?
Inchcape Middle East and South Asia has an extremely diversified service and customer portfolio. Because of that we have not been hit too hard by the sharp decline in services related to people movements, or the slightly reduced number of cargo calls we see in our ports. We think that as long as the countries in this region are making it easy for business to return, we will soon see the economy bouncing back. The key will be to make timely announcements, with clear instructions, and then to keep said instructions so that service providers, and customers know what to expect and can feel confident about a decision to, for example, book a cruise in the region for the fall.
The world’s new way of operating is also very fascinating. We can clearly see, in many service industries, that it is possible to deliver an equally good service remotely. We are sure that the unprecedented times we have experienced in 2020, will lead to many new ideas of how industries can be disrupted, and we will certainly be looking at using this opportunity to modernise port agency.