The use of management software is increasing out of necessity, but where is the technology taking the market?
The superyacht industry is undergoing a change in superyacht management to a more professional use of software solutions. Similarly, the management software market is currently experiencing movement, with some new software companies popping up, but with others disappearing.
“The popularity of management software in the superyacht industry is increasing out of necessity,” explains James Stockdale of Pinpoint Works. “The bureaucracy involved in the day-to-day running of a superyacht is extensive and there has long been a growing need to help manage the endless amounts of paperwork. As the logistics of managing these vessels grows evermore complex with new rules and regulations, such as MLC implementation and STCW 2010 Manila amendments, it is more important than ever to streamline the business practices of superyachts.”
Matt Folkes of Marine Cloud, agrees that the past two years have seen a steady increase in the popularity of planned-maintenance software. “Owners, management companies and captains are looking for traceability of checks and maintenance and the ability for auditing,” he adds. “Rules and regulations are increasing and there needs to be a foolproof practical way of achieving and recording actions taken.”
It is also becoming much more common for yacht builders and insurance providers to either provide planned maintenance systems for their clients, or require the vessel to operate a planned maintenance system.
“This is commercially driven,” Folkes explains. “Manufacturers and insurance companies are seeking greater governance of information relating to the maintenance and operation of vessels for reasons such as OEM warranty periods or extended insurance policies. From a practical point of view, having such a system in place helps the yard if there is ever a warranty dispute as well as helping the client keep the yacht in top condition.”
During the captain’s workshop at the Global Superyacht Forum this year, a question was raised regarding what the industry can improve when it comes to yacht management software. One of the answers received from a captain was that it would be incredibly valuable to have one software package to cover all areas of yacht management.
In response to this, Dasha Grupman of Latitude 365 points out that, from a software provider’s perspective, building one software package to cover all areas well is not realistic in a small, niche market. “It would either be too costly or too general,” she explains. “Our success in the yacht accounting area is largely attribute to staying focused and delivering a complete solution for yachts from a financial management standpoint.”
However, Grupman can see why the captains and management companies would want to have one software covering all areas. “There are so many various software packages coming on the market that it is becoming more and more difficult for the captain to choose and make the best decision,” she continues. “As a result, we have had several conversations with fellow yacht management software companies about creating partnerships among non-competing software providers to integrate with each other and deliver that all-in-one solution that seems to be in demand in the industry.”
In light of this, where is yacht management software headed in the future? “We will continue to see new and improved digital platforms to filter information more efficiently,” responds Stockdale. “If you take an honest look at your work flow processes, it is likely to be full of holes, high costs and time consuming processes. The future of all management software is to aim for real-time insights, analytics, data and collaboration.
“Additionally, there are no standard operating procedures when it comes to managing a superyacht or fleet of superyachts – every captain, management company, contractor and shipyard has different work processes. There will come a time when these practices will be standardised and streamlined as many of the current methods used in yachting are outdated and inefficient. Simultaneously, technology is rapidly advancing to help businesses run more time and cost effectively.”
For Marine Cloud, whose focus is on planned maintenance and model is based on software as a services, the demand for simplicity of use will remain, but this does not mean less advanced. “New technology allows deep integration of systems, remote monitoring is more accessible than ever before and technology such as near-field communication (NFC) and Geo-fencing will definitely be utilised in the future,” Folkes explains.
As a result of this, management software will likely be utilised to an increasing degree by all crew on smart phones or tablets. The technology is already there but has not been fully embraced to date.
The future of yacht management software belongs to those stakeholders that are able to adapt to accelerated change. By focusing on the fundamentals of operational processes, and bringing these interactions into digital form, such technology can help overcome the traditional challenges faced by yachts.