Report Identifies the Top Drivers for Digitalization in the Shipping Industry

The maritime industry is increasingly transitioning towards digitalization. Digital solutions help ship owners and operators improve vessel performance, increase crew and vessel safety, and reduce operational costs. And while there is no doubt that the technology provides greater access to operational intelligence, a wide gap exists in the level of data complexity and integration used. The research report “Uncharted Waters: The Journey to Digitalization in Shipping” explores the pressures of the market forces that ship owners and operators face, the impact of digitalization on their businesses, and how weather data integrates into their digital systems. Several of the key findings highlight ongoing industry challenges and transformations.



It is not surprising to find decarbonization at the top of the list of industry pressures. What is surprising is that most of the respondents said that non-regulatory requirements, such as greenhouse initiatives, were as much of an industry pressure as regulatory requirements for decarbonization. This suggests that the drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions goes beyond mandatory actions and comes from multiple sources, including company commitment, stakeholders, and the public.



Digitalization was another top pressure, according to respondents. A collaborative, data-sharing culture and a clearly-defined mission were two important factors facilitating digitalization. Interestingly, these factors also ranked high as obstacles. This clearly highlights that shipping experts know that digitalization journeys require fundamental organizational changes driven by leadership buy-in and company mission.


COVID-19 and digitalization

For most of the world, the pandemic either accelerated or stalled digital progress, and the maritime respondents said the same. While 53% reported no change, the other half of respondents said COVID-19 accelerated digitalization. Maritime operators who were either emerging adopters or leaders reported the biggest change.


Climate impact

As a data, analytics, and technology company that provides insights to weather-sensitive organizations, DTN also investigated how ship owners and operators integrate weather data. While shipping experts overwhelmingly believe enriched weather data is necessary, one in three don’t have weather data feeding into their systems, and 74% don’t believe climate change is impacting the industry. This lack of integrated weather data, along with recorded increases in wind strength, wave heights, and wave energy, threatens safety and vessel efficiency.

These, along with other findings in the report, demonstrate that the maritime industry is navigating unchartered waters when it comes to digitalization. Advancements in data collection, technology, and computer power, along with leadership buy-in, will help guide the industry toward more successful voyages.

Read the full research report.

Listen to ship operators and owners discuss the benefits and barriers of digitalization in The Impact of Digitalization in the Shipping Sector.