Creating a technology ecosystem agile enough to embrace change and benefit from innovation is the only way to create shipbuilding resiliency.
In today’s world of substantial challenges (think supply chain disruption, inflation, generative AI, geopolitical tensions!) combined with a rapidly evolving global shipbuilding industry, business leaders face unparalled challenges when considering transformation within their technology ecosystem. However, making optimal technology decisions involves more than just selecting the right tool.
Shipbuilding programs are lengthy, and vessels remain in-service for a very long time. Enough time that technology changes are inevitable, no different than equipment obsolescence onboard. Resiliency in our technology ecosystem is about more than just the hardware and network infrastructure. We need to consider the partners we choose – their commitment to open systems, innovation, and agility.
For some, to be resilient means predictable and safe and agile is just another buzzword. Others consider technology resilience to be a less important issue than supply-chain resilience, for example. Even today, it’s not uncommon for companies to rely on single-vendor ecosystems because they believe them to be safer (one throat to choke?) than multi-vendor, open-systems, environments. And, too often, resilience is considered [to be] tomorrow’s problem.
What is meant by resiliency?
In an article written by Zach Donnenburg for the December 2022 issue of Business of IT, he states: “Resiliency is not the same as continuity, stability, or reliability, because those three qualities all imply a desire to stay the same. On the contrary, resilience is the ability to actively learn from change and disruption. And learning from change and disruption allows us to embrace and benefit from technology innovation and [this] makes us more agile.” Resiliency nurtures innovation even though it may move your organization out of the safe and stable state.
Why is technology resiliency important?
From a 2019 TedSummit talk by Margaret Heffernan “Experts and forecasters are reluctant to predict anything more than 400 days out. Why? Because, over the last 20-30 years, much of the world has gone from being complicated to being complex. It means that expertise alone won’t always suffice. Because the system just keeps changing too fast. Whereas we used to think a lot about Just in Time (JIT) management, now we must start thinking about Just in Case.” Keep in mind – this talk was delivered before the massively disruptive Covid global pandemic.
Why take an agile approach?
According to McKinsey & Company, leading companies today are transforming into an agile business model and technology is one of the 4 critical areas they’re focused on (the other three being structure, people, processes). This means, having a technology ecosystem that supports rapid changes (Just in Case, right!) We need look back no further than the start of the Covid pandemic and the lockdowns which sent everybody home.
Shipyards faced huge challenges: enabling a remote workforce, accustomed to having high-powered workstations and gigabit LANs, securely and with minimal impact to efficiency and schedule. This is where the 4th pillar of Agile was unknowingly applied – responding to change [disruption!] over following a plan. I dare say that no shipbuilders had a plan for this – we could have never predicted the impact of Covid on our workplace environment.
The Reality is shipbuilders are struggling
Transforming a technology ecosystem is inherently problematic: shipbuilding is hugely complex and the challenges unique to shipbuilding cannot be solved using general purpose tools. Single-vendor, legacy systems are disconnected resulting in siloed data, some even locked in proprietary model and data formats. Shipbuilders aim to see an ROI in the current project (or even block!) and can’t or won’t invest in building resilience because the ROI and benefits aren’t always clear. Or, they don’t know how to get started because the problem seems too large and complex.
An Open Shipbuilding Platform
As a component of resiliency, SSI’s open, shipbuilding platform gives you a future-proof source of truth for all your projects, fosters a technology ecosystem that is agile and can embrace unanticipated change or innovation. An ecosystem of partners that align with a philosophy of openness is a multiplier of continued resiliency.
How does SSI’s Open Shipbuilding Platform accomplish this?
Four key ways:
- Aligning to industry’s “platform of platform” open approach that supports the complexity of modern shipbuilding today (no one vendor can meet all the needs of a shipyard).
- Freely consume and distribute information to the enterprise and supply chain (vendors that lock in data add unnecessary risk).
- We proactively seek out partners that share are philosophy of openness and innovation (benefit from their technology innovation)
- Implementations that take months, not years, and deliver quick ROI.
More than the tools we choose
Earlier in this post we talked of making optimal technology decisions and the need to consider the partners we choose, their commitment to open systems, innovation, and agility. You’re not just selecting new and different tools, you’re choosing a partner whose principles, mission, and values purposefully create benefit and competitive advantage for you. Since our founding by Rolf Oetter more than 30 years ago, SSI’s core principals of using COTS technology, layered with shipbuilding and shipyard-specific functionality, developed and implemented using agile methods, has delivered competitive advantage and quick ROI to our customers.