Sea Technology

DEC 2018

The industry's recognized authority for design, engineering and application of equipment and services in the global ocean community

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Page 49 of 52 December 2018 | ST 49 soap box Mange Your Email, Manage Your Time—Bill Dobie time and found that 24 percent of CEO time was taken up emailing people, with email also listed as the main source of distraction. This effect is compounded in our industry, as shipping organizations manage thousands of messages each day involving complex trans- actions among internal and exter- nal teams across multiple offices. The most common tools we use to handle emails, such as Outlook and Gmail, were never meant to be used by teams. This means that team members spend inordinate amounts of time manually tagging, filing or searching for emails. For many companies we engage with, these administrative tasks take up to 2 hr. per day, per employee. The time spent managing email has out- paced the time spent communicat- ing with it. Not only can email be a waste of valuable time, often for highly skilled and well-paid individuals, but email can slow down the over- all response rate to new business inquiries. In shipping, with very low mar- gins, businesses compete on how agile they are and how rapidly they can respond to a commercial op- portunity. If there's a way that trans- actions can be negotiated more quickly, isn't that exactly the kind of advantage a shipping company needs? As much as anything else, time is shipping's most valuable commodity—and anywhere it's be- ing lost is a problem. Another issue is that email is not fully secure. Recent cyberattacks have laid bare the scale of the chal- lenge that this presents for shipping. The insurer Munich Re has warned that losses expected from cyberat- tacks are greater than those expect- ed from natural catastrophes. Email is a particular weak point that hackers can exploit, and phish- ing attacks are becoming more so- phisticated. As hackers learn better ways to impersonate people inside an organization, the security risk in- creases when people are handling thousands of emails a day. It's easy for employees to miss something crucial or be misled by a hacker. This is why in the latest version of the SEDNA transaction manage- ment software, we've included a new sign-in system that leverages multiauthentication (MFA) to en- hance communication and docu- ment security along with message identification that highlights ap- proved senders, making it harder for hackers to use phishing to infiltrate shipping organizations. In an industry that remains so fragmented, no piece of technology is going to take away the need for two parties to agree on the vocab- ulary of a transaction, how they are going to speak to each other, and how they'll ascertain whether the other has done what they said they would do. So, even though we can scarce- ly go a week without a headline detailing how AI and autonomous processes are going to reshape our industries, we cannot forget that when it comes to managing a shipping transaction, it is an agree- ment of trust between parties, and building that trust is essential. Tech- nology will continue to have a role to play in establishing trust within business relationships. While it's hard to predict exactly how digitalization is going to affect transaction management, right now there are huge efficiencies to be gained by making sure that compa- nies are managing their transactions correctly—whether that's with auto- mated tagging or automated email composition. Software that handles some of the tedium of transaction management gives people the time, trust and control to do what they are good at, so that they can spend more time responding to and man- aging transactions thoughtfully, in- stead of wasting time wrestling with their email. ST Bill Dobie is the founder and CEO of SEDNA. He has been building soft- ware since 1984 and has been do- ing so specifically for the shipping industry since 2000, when he co-founded Navarik. In 2010, he founded Stage 3 Systems, which runs software as services, includ- ing SEDNA, that have revolutionized the way that shipowners, ship agencies, charterers and ship brokers communi- cate with each other. W hat's been the most frustrat- ing thing in your inbox: a "reply-all" thread that just won't die; spending hours everyday filing messages into folders; searching for an email you desperately need but cannot find; or a big threat to your business that goes unnoticed? While they are not as eye-catch- ing a topic as autonomous shipping or artificial intelligence-based ves- sel optimization, there are threats to productivity, trust and security hidden away in plain sight within inboxes throughout the shipping industry. As such, businesses are coming to realize that we need to re-ex- amine how we handle email and transactions. Companies includ- ing NORDEN, Glencore, Seaspan, Monson Agencies and Sturrock Grindrod are now adopting a differ- ent way of handling email—opting for team-based transaction man- agement platforms that will enable them to have a better handle on the many threads of business commu- nication. So, what are some of the issues that companies face when it comes to how they use email, and what can the industry do about them? One problem is that email takes up too much time. Email is already recognized as a productivity killer in many fields. For instance, a study published in Harvard Business Re- view analyzed 60,000 hr. of CEO

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