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Get onboard with digitalization

(Posted on 15/10/19)

“Digitalization brings great benefits and has the potential to create greater equality in the world”, said Nabil Ben Soussia, IEC Telecom’s Vice-President Maritime. “The reality is that the train is leaving the station and individuals and organisations need to get on board quickly,” he advised.

“For the maritime sector, the march of digitalization offers the opportunity for greater efficiency, substantial cost savings, optimization of vessel processes, and vastly improved communications between ship and shore, as well as for crew members,” he enthused, highlighting the benefits of connectivity across the globe.

Measures like being able to access the vessel management system remotely enable improved vessel and performance monitoring as well as more efficient maintenance regimes – saving time, money, and helping to meet environmental and other targets.

There are challenges to be overcome when digitalizing vessel operations, he agreed, speaking at Digital Ship’s CIO forum in Singapore. A stable and reliable connection is essential, as are robust back-up systems. IEC Telecom is one of the leading providers of connectivity solutions to the maritime sector and Mr Ben Soussia is able to draw on the company’s many years of expertise when advising the shipping industry.

Highlighting the risks to vessels from cyber threats, he stressed the need for comprehensive and effective cyber security to be built into any digitalized systems, both onboard and ashore. “The more autonomous vessels are, the higher the risk is of a cyber-attack and the greater the impact of that attack could be,” he said, pointing out that the majority of cyber threats can be eliminated with the proper security processes in place.

One of the downsides to this rapid pace of development is that maritime regulation needs to move faster in order to remain relevant and not inhibit technological advancement. The rapid rise of new technologies requires a new set of global rules to manage operations and potential risks, Mr Ben Soussia warned. Shipping is a highly regulated international market but the process of introducing new regulations or amending existing ones takes many years and this speed needs to increase in order to keep up with the pace of change.

But the commitment is worth it. Smart ships, smart crew, smart operating procedures – these are the future, thanks to digitalization.

A high-performance leader with extensive experience in the MENA region, Nabil Ben Soussia joined IEC Telecom Group as Director of Technologies and Operations in 2008. In the capacity of Business Unit Director, Nabil played a key role in the opening of the Abu Dhabi office in 2011. In 2014, Nabil initiated the opening of a new office in Kazakhstan, and in the same year, he became Managing Director of the Middle East division.

In 2018, Nabil moved into the role of Group Vice President and is responsible for the strategic vision and management of the maritime segment.

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