Can shipping move from secrecy to sharing?

Ali Riaz
April 15, 2020

A few months back, we initiated research to quantify the economic value which can be unlocked through sharing data in shipping (and we’ve done just that). Back then, few people outside of those who study infectious diseases knew what "COVID-19" meant or what a “coronavirus” was.  Today, we all do.   


It should be clear to all of us that data sharing - often expressed in terms of the collaborative or sharing economy--is more than  an  abstract academic or economic concept. It  can be a matter of life and death. 


The response to the COVID-19 outbreak has featured some of the best examples of data sharing, some of which are mentioned in our research.  These examples of how countries, institutions and private industry have shared data have saved lives and will continue to do so. 


Sharing in the economic sense is  roughly defined as a host of activities based on acquiring, providing, or sharing access to  goods, services and data, often facilitated by online platforms that connect buyers, sellers,  partners and other stakeholders. Those ideas sound largely positive and progressive, but for  a traditional industry such as shipping that has been built on paper-trails and closely held relationships they may sound alien, if not intimidating.

How do we  move from secrecy to sharing? 

What does sharing actually mean...and NOT mean?

The concept of sharing can have many meanings and expressions.  Another expression of sharing comes from Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum who has explored the move from shareholder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism.  In this model, long-term success for companies is closely linked to that of their customers, employees, and suppliers.  “To uphold the principles of stakeholder capitalism, companies will need new metrics,” he writes. “For starters, a new measure of ‘shared value creation’ should include ‘environmental, social, and governance’ (ESG) goals as a complement to standard financial metrics.” 


Isn’t it ironic that the
shareholder economy which actually includes the word “share” in its description now implies a closely held and narrow view of capitalism?  In other words, the opposite of sharing.


It can be confusing.  Sometimes t
o gain understanding it’s just as important to articulate what something does not mean as much as what it does mean.   


In this case
, sharing is NOT complete transparency where sensitive company information is  exposed to everyone. Sharing is NOT losing control over information. In fact, sharing  requires confidentiality, control and security. It is only with these in place that firms will feel comfortable with collaboration. 


There are benefits
 to sharing. Those benefits include realizing  significant economic value and the ability for us to meet the  aggressive sustainability goals we want to achieve. Without sharing—without, first, thinking  differently about sharing—we will struggle to meet IMO benchmarks.   


More importantly, w
ithout sharing we'll be unable to respond to the next global pandemic, should it arise.  


Click here to download our report & find out more

Subscribe by Email