Shipping in the era of digitalization: Mapping the future strategic plans of major maritime commercial actors

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Article Open Access

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Digital Business

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The so-called “Fourth Industrial revolution”, also termed as “Industry 4.0” in the wider literature, is associated with several cutting-edge technologies. Indicative examples in this category are advanced applications like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data Analytics (BDA), Cloud Computing and Internet of Things (IoT), which are already influencing the maritime industry. It is indicative of the fact that there are several construction projects of autonomous ships, such as the Yara Birkeland and the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS), which are heavily reliant on technologies associated with the Industry 4.0 concept. The maritime transport industry is already transitioning into a new operations paradigm, often termed as “shipping in the era of digitalization”. Shipping companies promote digitalization as the future of the maritime industry and their efforts to set up strategies are already in progress. Examining those visions and strategies in relation to digitalization would be beneficial to better understand the way towards which the maritime industry is heading. This paper is aiming to identify the characteristics of that pool of future plans via a qualitative review and with a particular focus on major maritime commercial actors, based on shipping companies' relevant action plans that were gathered online. A conclusion standing out is that major shipping companies have embraced digitalization to increase cost-efficiency, raise competitiveness and meet the needs of their customers.