What to expect from the maritime agency of the future
The moment we are experiencing in the first half of 2020 already means a major break for projects, forecasts and ideas across the market. Taking this into account, what to expect from the maritime agency of the future?
In this conversation, we invited the executive director of the Wilson Sons Maritime Agency, Christian Von Lachmann and the operations coordinator of Pancoast Trading, Ricardo Augusto Pieruccetti, to better understand how this moment can also be an opportunity for companies in the sector.
See emerging trends, technologies that will transform shipping agency and how Wilson Sons is positioning itself in this new era. Follow.
What are the main trends for shipping agency?
If Covid-19, on the one hand, has been hampering investments and market shares in the short term, on the other hand it has been forcing a transformation in the agency sector that can have profound positive effects in the long run.
These are trends that were already in process, but that must be accelerated as a form of defense against the crisis and expansion after it. See what’s ahead.
Digital transformation and transparency
“I can tell you what Covid-19 brings about change: before this pandemic, people were very operational and made paper documentation relevant,” says Christian Lachmann. “What this moment brought was the visualization of a different way of doing operations, with less paper”. For him, this is one of the revolutions to come: doing things in a more electronic, more automatic way.
This is perhaps the biggest trend in the market as a whole, which is intensifying from now on in the maritime agency sector: the digital transformation.
Ricardo Pieruccetti also adds that “more technology, easier for transparency”. For him, there is no doubt that the future will have much more transparent processes. “And with this transparency, there will also be much more rigorous control, whoever is not willing to follow will stay on the road”, prophecy.
Digital transformation is a search for digitizing data and the processes that use it. It is time to definitively abandon paper reports to take advantage of the intelligence and efficiency that technology can bring to the business routine.
In other words, the moment did not create this trend, but it is accelerating the search for solutions and services that deliver an unprecedented ability to process information, work remotely, facilitate the tracking of processes and shorten operational distances.
Mergers to strengthen
Another movement that we can expect in the coming years is the search for market exits that maintain the survival and growth of companies of all sizes within the sector. It is as the director of WS says: “I think we will see mergers of companies because some of them (which were in a more delicate situation) will run out of cash. And without cash, there is no possibility of resuming operations and will end up being acquired by other economic groups.”
The trend is for readjustment, but there is no talk of a long-term retraction. What is expected is that the maritime transport sector will absorb the impact now and restructure itself to return stronger as soon as possible.
Valuing work with sustainability
Another point that can be observed in the current reflections is in the valuation of everything related to sustainability. Christian Lachmann mentions that this is the kind of moment when we are reminded that there are things more priority than profit at any cost.
Lachmann also shows optimism on this point: “it is necessary to think about forms of sustainability: social, economic, health and the environment. It hasn’t changed yet, but it will!”
The reduction in paper spending already suggests a path. However, another point to be considered is the reduction of current errors. This is resolved when contracts and negotiations are made with experienced people, who understand the nuances of each stage and mitigate the risks. “The work of the maritime agent requires this attentive look at the rules, changes in legislation and everything that involves the port”, confirms Ricardo Augusto. “Undoubtedly, he will be a more valued professional in the future, for bringing that security to the client and preventing him from losing money”.
Less standing loads, less wear, more correct procedures and the correct use of documents and letters. Working within and with a shipping agency will require constant updating, attention and preparation. So, what to expect from shipping agencies for years to come?
What to expect from shipping agencies in the future?
Analyzing the trends, we were able to see a very clear path for shipping agencies at such a crucial time for the market.
The unrestrained search for expansion takes on a new tone, a new focus: administrative and operational optimization. Automated processes and data intelligence should make business in the industry more efficient and flexible.
With a greater focus on remote work and integration of employees, the idea is that agency services gain in agility, quality and security, all without significant changes in pricing.
It is a possibility brought about by digital transformation. A gain for entrepreneurs, agents, carriers and customers capable of allowing the sector to navigate in turbulent waters and enjoy the extra breath when everything calms down.
How is technology already transforming shipping agency?
What the director of Wilson Sons highlights about technology is in line with what one imagines of trends for the coming years in investing in business solutions. The focus in this first moment is on platforms and software that facilitate and simplify operational processes. Automation is the main pursuit for the future.
An example he gives comes from one of these technologies that intends to be a game changer for the sector: Artificial Intelligence. Specialized robots are able to learn and develop their abilities to perform tasks on their own, giving more quality, agility and safety to everything that involves the operation of a maritime agency.
Thinking even further ahead, traceability solutions are starting to be implemented – starting from larger companies. They are technologies related to cargo tracking and data conferences that will be very popular in the future.
How is Wilson Sons preparing for the future?
Christian Lachmann also tells a little about how the company views the current moment and these technological trends that we mentioned in the text. For him, the secret of success is and always will be in people. “We are very concerned with security”, he tells us: “if the operation is not safe, it must be stopped”.
Therefore, the most important thing at first is to get out of the current situation brought about by the pandemic with ease. It means worrying about the health of employees while enabling them – and stimulating innovation initiatives that bring creative solutions to any impact on the way.
For the future, this learning will serve as an engine for a new era in the sector. In fact, the market itself is recovering the value of the shipping agent as the eyes and ears of the ship-owner – with technology, much more than two of each.
That is why the director ends on a positive note: “agency is a very old activity, in which we have been for almost two centuries. There are always people saying this will end! I’ve heard it since Wilson Sons was 160 (and now 183) and we’re still there. I believe that a lot will change, but the shipping agency will remain here”, he concludes!
Ricardo Augusto also highlights, “I see that the agency professional will be even more valued in the future, due to his rigorous work, being the eyes and arms of those who hire him”. A professional who is a safe haven for your client wherever you are. In times of remote work, this confidence will be worth even more.
These are difficult times that everyone lives, we know! But it is also the best time to look at analyzing new paths and opportunities. The professionals of the area are ready to design today the waters that will be sailed by the maritime agency of the future.
How about knowing more about our work and the advantages of hiring Wilson Sons as a partner? See in this article what we offer best in shipping agency!