Mar 2, 2022
Fear of a ‘Great Resignation’ is leading ship managers to demand a better user experience from software, according to provider JiBe
4 March 2022 1:06 GMT
By Bob Rust in New York
Shipping has to do more to compete for the services of good candidates, and that is leading owners and ship managers to ask software providers to make crews’ working experience better, according to Yariv Zghoul.
The Miami-based former shipowner is founder of software provider JiBe, an integrated platform used on board some 1,500 ships including the fleet of Anglo-Eastern. Zghoul said his clients have increasingly asked him to “provide employees with a more fulfilling experience” in his enterprise resource platform software rather than just more functionality.
Junior colleagues in software development had made the same point but Zghoul discounted their advice for generational and professional reasons. “My team is 15 years younger than me and I was in my Israeli way telling them, ‘Get out of my face, this is about shipping’,” he told TradeWinds. But over the past two or three years, he has become confident that he must “put functionality aside and focus on the user interface”.
The reason is the “Great Resignation”. It is a phenomenon towards that Zghoul is not entirely positive but of whose reality he is entirely convinced. He said finding and retaining the right employees will be harder in shipping than in shore-based industries. “We are now working for our employees,” he said. “When they come for a job interview, they interview you.”
As a result, ship management software tools must increasingly not just operate vessels, but also make users’ working lives easier and better. Part of that lies in relieving human operators of chores that machines can do better, not least through predictive maintenance and procurement. On the shore side at least, that can mean smaller teams for bigger fleets.
“Classic staffing ratios like two or two-and-a-half office staff per ship, one technical superintendent for four ships, one purchaser or crew coordinator for four ships — these numbers are predicted to double in the next 12 months,” he said. “There doesn’t have to be a straight line between the number of ships and the onshore staff anymore. I have customers who have doubled the size of their fleets without increasing their shore-based overhead.”
But another part of that is convincing shipboard crews that they are doing technically sophisticated, high-value work, as good as what they could find ashore.
“I don’t see any reason why shipping should not be perceived as one of the most tech-driven industries,” he said. “Shipping is at a crossroads, and the differentiation among employers will be significant because of the tools they use.”
Zghoul pointed to his biggest customer — Hong Kong’s Anglo-Eastern — as one of those pushing in the direction of interface over functionality. “I do agree that reducing the administrative tasks on board is one way we can increase job satisfaction for the seafarers,” Anglo-Eastern chief executive Bjorn Hojgaard told TradeWinds.