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Q&A: IEC Telecom Vice President on digitalisation of the maritime industry

Photo: IEC Telecom Nabil Ben Soussia.png
Nabil Ben Soussia, Vice President Maritime at IEC Telecom, talks about AI based solutions and how big data analytics enable ship owners to efficiently run their entire fleet.

With so much data available, how can the shipping industry maximise the benefits of trend analysis, data depth and scenario forecasting? As part of Saudi Maritime Congress 2020, leading industry executives look at how it can maximise assets performance with big data and analytics.

In this Q&A Nabil Ben Soussia, Vice President Maritime at IEC Telecom, talks about AI based solutions and how big data analytics enable ship owners to efficiently run their entire fleet.

Why do you view ‘Big Data and Analytics” as an important conversation point for the industry?

The industry is moving towards digitalized, VSAT-enabled, smart ships, and increasingly depending on real-time data to make the best decisions possible. With big data and analytics, we can get a complete picture of the current status of a vessel; optimize workflow for a host of critical tasks, paving the way for future vessel automation; and make even better decisions. One of IEC Telecom’s state-of-the-art solutions, OneGate Marine, offers full visibility offshore and onshore over a highly adaptive virtualized platform to optimize workflow, decrease operational costs, and enable digitalization.

Solutions like these are the future of the maritime industry and an important conversation to have today.

How can shipping companies, including yours, benefit from trend analysis, data depth and scenario forecasting?

When you have access to big data, you can run analytics that allows you to accurately forecast a range of scenarios and pick the option that best aligns with your strategic goals. Moreover, big data analytics enable the efficient running of your entire fleet and save you both time and money. Not only can you route your vessels to make the best use of time at the port, at sea, and available human resources, you can also remotely maintain your vessel.

IEC Telecom provides vessel operators with a dashboard to remotely monitor the network for full visibility over active links (VSAT, MSS, and GSM), data usage, and crew vouchers. Moreover, the same virtual platform hosts applications for the email server and optimized file transfers, which can be managed from onshore. A recent analysis by Accenture reflects that a digitally-reinvented shipbuilder can reduce operating costs by up to 20% in 5 years while increasing revenue by up to 15%. We’re already seeing the beginning of this trend with our customers.

Shipping companies started to explore AI technology and its capabilities to improve the quality of shipping services. How do you see the AI involvement in the process in the next few years?

AI involvement in shipping services will enable well-informed quick decisions that are critical not just in optimizing routes and work processes, but also in reducing operating costs. With real-time monitoring of a wide range of vessel functions, timely maintenance, and reliable connectivity, AI enabled solutions will help where it matters most. A recent Inmarsat report found that we can expect cost savings of 14% on average through AI based solutions within five years. Besides, at IEC Telecom, we’re committed to offering cost-effective solutions and already provide remote monitoring services. With AI in the mix, these services will become even more efficient in supporting vital operations

Why do you think it’s important to participate in events like Saudi Maritime Congress? 

Saudi Arabia is strategically located between three continents and well positioned to become a global logistics hub. Besides Saudi Arabia being at the core of major global navigation lines, this event further enables partnership opportunities for the industry as Saudi Arabia develops its maritime sector with major projects such as the $5.2 billion mega shipyard facility in Ras Al Khair.

IEC Telecom aims to be a partner in Saudi Arabia’s commitment to developing its maritime trade, digitalization of fleet operations, and expansion into new economic cities that will require reliable connectivity solutions.