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Shipping technology needs to get closer to the user, says Metis

Photo: METIS Cyberspace Technology Panos Theodossopoulos, CEO, METIS Cyberspace Technology
Panos Theodossopoulos, CEO, METIS Cyberspace Technology
As shipping places more requirements on its staff at sea and ashore, software platforms must stop making their own demands, according to Metis CEO Panos Theodossopoulos.

Athens-based Metis positions itself as a telemetry-first vessel performance management company, but after seven years of trading, the company has taken a user-first approach in the latest updates to its platform.

Speaking to Seatrade Maritime News, Metis CEO Panos Theodossopoulos said the overhaul of its user interface was driven by the company’s experience working with its customers and the market forces it sees at play.

“A lot of the market changes we see are driven by decarbonisation and practically that translates to tighter regulations. All shipping companies now have this additional burden on top of regular operations, to start monitoring what is happening on the vessel and then quite a heavy reporting procedure,” said Theodossopoulos.

Technology is also delivering increased transparency a growing requirement of environmental initiatives. The drive of ESG and The Poseidon Principles and green financing covenants all add another layer to day-to-day work in shipping companies, he said.

“I would also add the crew shortage as a factor, both in terms of quality as well as in terms of quantity. We demand a lot more from the crew, with increased admin and handling additional and new technologies,” said Theodossopoulos.

Those market factors were a driver for levels of abstraction in the new Metis platform that the company never had previously, with high level fleet and vessel summaries and signposts through to specific KPIs highlighting areas that may need focus or further analysis.

“Time is becoming a great asset for everybody. Nobody has the time to actually start from the bottom up and identify issues. So we need to enable them, and make it easier for them to understand the big picture and then drill down,” said Theodossopoulos.

The new design started with expert advice from a design agency specialising in user interface (UI) and user experience (UX), through beta testing new concepts, and a final round of discussions with existing customers on the changes.

“A lot of the new introductions to the platform were alerts and notifications for things that we identify as issues, informing the customer before the issue becomes bigger, and not relying on whether they might visit the platform that day,” said Theodossopoulos.

With such an abundance of information available to those working in shipping from different sources and platforms, a new approach was needed.

“I think it's our obligation to get closer to the way users work, rather than us demanding they come closer to us,” said Theodossopoulos.

Seafarers are often the focus of maritime software development, but the impacts of vessel efficiency platforms and their role in data acquisition and reporting activities on land is notable, he added, especially for small and medium sized shipowners facing an increasing regulatory burden.

“We speak with customers that have hired people specifically to follow regulations and reporting, and those who or rely on and partner with companies like us to automate as much as one can of this procedure – both in terms of the data acquisition itself, instead of having unreliable manually filled-in forms, as well as putting it all in the right format to report to the verifiers and classification societies,” said Theodossopoulos.

Metis is ready for the upcoming FuelEU Maritime regulation, and is monitoring developments at the IMO on global regulations for shipping. “We believe and hope that eventually there will be an umbrella worldwide for all these regulations, not only for reporting and admin purposes, but also for the actual financial aspect,” said Theodossopoulos.