Email in shipping, a farewell

Blog of the week by Marco Wetzel

E-mails played a vital role in the last 2 – 3 decades in both our professional and our private life. With emails we were able to transport information quite fast and at low costs. We even could send information to multiple recipients. When we look into our shipping industry, especially to our vessels, emails are not that old and still the main communication channel with the rest of the world. Still !

Why we have to say goodbye

Todays industry challenges are huge and our goals are (mostly) clear. Things like decarbonization, digitalization, increasing customer demands & public pressure are forces that continuously impacting our business. Sometimes it seems overwhelming to me.

But we are not alone! We have great minds, amazing talents, innovative entrepreneurs and a lot of different technologies available at the same time. We will look into this more detailed in one of my next articles. However when you look at these challenges, you quickly realize that we need to act more efficient and faster. That’s why we have to say goodbye, dear e-mail.

“E-mails are a good way to push work to other people”

Are you still writing emails or are you already working together ?

The e-mail, because of its structure and technology has been a suitable way to communicate in the “old” days, where the world and its supply chains were moving more slowly. In todays world – as described above – the e-mail is not fitting the purpose for team work. Collaboration tools like MS Teams, where teams can work together in real-time and at the same time will replace the email as main communication in shipping companies. Even some vessels are already connected to collaboration platforms.

“Today emails are just a tool to bridge data silos and communication silos”

What have emails to do with fragmentation ?

Shipping companies are adding more and more software to do better voyage planning, better reporting, to track vessel performance, to digitize different tasks and so on. But even after the implementation of those tools, people are wondering why the workload is not decreasing. Too often we add software as islands both on a vessel and in our offices. We create more and more silos. What do people do to bridge the silos ? You got it ! E-mails.

Platforms, IoT, M2M & Co.

What comes next ?

We quickly have defined the challenges, the needs and the limitation of our main (virtual) communication channel. Now we can take a look at the next stage. Our coming primary communication channels will be platforms like MS Teams or other. In many shipping companies, collaboration platforms have been implemented and established as main communication channel already. Even there it’s already possible to communicate and collaborate with other companies (depending on the IT settings).

The e-mail will still play a role in the next years and will still act as an interface. But the importance of an e-mail will go down and disappear in the future. Platforms will take over the scepter and the vessels will become an (external) department.

Although you will be still with us for certain amount of time…

Dear e-mail, my old friend, you did a great job. But we have to move on, we have to be faster

Have you changed your communication behavior / channel already ? What is your experience with e-mails ?

This article is shared by courtesy of Marco Wetzel. You are welcome to share your point of view here.


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