With the advent of any technological shift there comes a serious dilemma: whether to get on board early and hope to reap the benefits or to adopt a more cautious approach, let others make the mistakes first and invest only once the technology is mature.
The problem, of course, is that this dilemma has become magnified in recent years as technological advances have moved further faster than anyone might otherwise have predicted. This has certainly been the case with the internet, where things have become possible now that would have seemed like science fiction a few years previously.
This sort of rapid technological advance raises the dangerous prospect for those of the ‘wait and see’ mentality that their otherwise sensible caution could in fact leave them lagging dangerously behind their rivals within a very short timeframe indeed.
This, it is suggested, is the case with the advent of ‘big data’ or the industrial internet. Many within the industry are suggesting that the ability to process and analyse technical diagnostic data and put it to good use is moving forward at such a rate that to wait and see will mean getting left behind – perhaps fatally.
Of course many would argue that it is necessary to wait for these technologies to mature and prove themselves. However, what they forget is that shipping is still a relatively conservative industry and that just because big data is new here doesn’t mean it is to the rest of industry. In other words, these are mature technologies that have proved themselves – albeit not necessarily in shipping.
In a recent interview with MP, Tim Schweikert, president and chief executive of GE’s Marine Solutions business put it starkly: “Business models tend to change more rapidly than people anticipate. I think you’re going to see a lot of change. You’re going to see the industry leaders break out and start implementing this technology sooner than you think… The smart ones see it and are taking action on it now, but the ones currently in denial are going to be impacted.”
Put like that, ‘wait and see’ suddenly doesn’t look quite the wise option it might otherwise appear to be.