Despite arguments to the contrary, shipping has certainly not been reluctant to make use of computers and IT. On the contrary shipping has always embraced change providing that the changes were beneficial either economically or operationally.
Sometimes, the industry or individuals decide not to adopt ideas or concepts and for doing so has come in for heavy criticism being labelled as conservative or worse. However, shipping is first and foremost an industry run almost entirely on private capital and because of that it remains attractive only if it is profitable.
Over the last fifty or so years, the world has become far more dependent on IT and the software that is central to the computer age and shipping has been no different from many other industries in this regard. In shore offices, shipping companies make use of the same type of administrative software as most other organisations use.
On-board ship, things may have progressed more slowly but this has been less a matter of choice and more due to the lack of affordable means of communicating between sea and shore. Many systems on board ships from alarms to engine monitoring and diagnostics have embedded software and here this has been developed independently in each system over time, even integrating them into a ‘connected ship’ has not been easy.
Trim, stability and stowage are obvious areas where the necessary complex mathematical calculations can be performed quicker while ashore computing power can help fleet management and specialisations such as voyage estimating. Today the buzz is all about ‘big data’ but that is really for tomorrow and there is more than sufficient need for more practical uses which a growing range of software products is aimed at satisfying.