The transportation industry, is traditionally expected by shippers to readily adapt to market capacity requirements. The maritime industry especially, has traditionally suffered from dynamic changes in demand, where those having the most resilient systems in place survive over time. Differentiation strategies have been applied by various operators via expanding their business portfolios in niche markets achieving higher margins for a period of time. These strategies are aligned with business models applying cost based and asset play strategies, with the latter taking advantage of the maritime cycles. Nevertheless, the modern dynamic business environment, where shipper supply chains are rather extended and rely on reliable transportation, demand for a change in the business philosophy and models the maritime industry applies. In this new model, relationships with customers and suppliers along with human capital development and available technology are key to its success.
Given the fact that limited academic work exists on the business models shipping management companies follow, the present effort aims at furthering existing research on such models to achieve the next competitive advantage. This effort, is based on three main pillars namely; strategic direction of the company, human resource development and digital business capabilities. This work envisions to conceptualize and develop an enriched Business Model for the industry based on future needs and in parallel identify employee skills and other resources needed for its success. This new knowledge is expected to assist the Greek Shipping Industry to remain competitive in the global business environment and the Greek maritime cluster to increase its attractiveness through the new digital mind-set. Finally, the identification and development of digital tools and skills for the enforcement of the local work force will create new job opportunities and facilitate the provision of services of the highest calibre.
DELTA-S aspires to create knowledge useful for shipping management companies, which will increase their internal integration and external adaptation, assisting them to remain competitive in the dynamic digital global business environment. The Greek maritime cluster is expected to increase its attractiveness through the new digital mind-set resulting in new business opportunities and creation of highly skilled jobs.
The new business environment increases the need for the maritime industry to shift from the traditional model of selling capacity to a model, which will offer higher value to the users. Until today capacity is dealt as a commodity and like any commodity when demand is high revenues increase and vice-versa. The fact that demand dynamics move at a much faster pace compared to those of supply, makes the industry vulnerable to revenue fluctuations from an operating perspective (Stopford, 1997). The changes in the external environment bring into fore factors not considered as important under the existing business paradigms. Enriching these business models, especially for those companies active in the traditional bulk shipping markets, via introducing an Enriched Business Paradigm, which will take into account several of the factors that are currently neglected, is the challenge for the DELTA-S. These factors are grouped under the below three pillar (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Next Competitive Advantage Pillars
DELTA-S goal will be achieved via the accomplishment of goals among the many:
The aforementioned will be achieved via a number of objectives with actionable results, which are expected to have a spill over effect. Among the results are:
The present research aims at furthering existing state of the work related to the competitive advantage of the maritime industry. So far models and frameworks encapsulated in various studies take a single-dimension approach focusing on traditional management tools and techniques. With the use of modern available technology tools, this work aims at shedding light to an alternative and differentiated way of thinking with actionable insights when it comes to human capital development and business models leading to effective decision making. Via a number of publications to conferences and academic journals the results will be disseminated to academia.
The outcome of this work aims at providing valuable insights on how the industry and more specifically shipping management companies should operate under a more than ever dynamic environment where data acquisition, quality and analysis are key to the next competitive advantage. With the development of methodologies in relation to problem solving and software tools for swift decision making at strategic and business level industry players of the maritime cluster will be facilitated in improving productivity and competitiveness levels. Greek Shipping Management Companies will be at the focus of this research and is expected to be the main beneficiaries of the findings.
Improving the Greek maritime cluster competitiveness, via the development of skilful work force and the existence or creation of new competitive organizations, acts as an enabler to the community and economy. The new knowledge created via this work will assist in improving Greek-owned shipping companies’ abilities to adjust and improve their competitiveness. This will contribute to increasing further the attractiveness of the Greek maritime cluster globally creating new job and business opportunities for people and organizations.
Dr. Ioannis Theotokas is Professor of Shipping Management. He has a background of economics and has specialized in Shipping Management. He received his PhD from the University of Piraeus (1997). His research interests lie in the fields of Management, Human Resource Management and Strategic Management applied to shipping business.
He is the author of seven books (with five as co-author) published in Greece and the UK and of 43 papers published in international journals and in edited books. He has presented over 60 papers at international scientific conferences. He is member of International Association of Maritime Economics and of the Association of Greek Maritime Economists.
He has participated as scientific coordinator or as principal researcher in research projects related to employment, entrepreneurship, strategy and competitiveness in shipping, to maritime training and e-learning, to image of shipping and in consultancy studies funded/commissioned by European Commission, Niarchos Foundation, Greek Ministry of Economic Development, Ceres Hellenic Shipping Enterprises S.A., Panhellenic Seamen’s Federation, Academy of Athens and other organisations (KNOWME, CAPTAINS, MELES, INNOSUTRA, RURAL eGOV, SLIM-VRT).
From September 2015 to February 2017 he had served as Secretary General of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy of Greece and from April 2015 to September 2015 he had served as Deputy Secretary General of the Misinisry of Economy, Infrastructure, Maritime Afairs and Tourism. He has been the director of the Research in Shipping and Ports Laboratory of the University of the Aegean from 2009 to 2015.
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