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From its beginnings in 1998, MarineTalk has progressed rapidly to become the leading portal for technical and management professionals in our industry. As we move ahead we are continuously developing more features for our users and participating companies. MarineTalk is paving the way for business-to-business E- commerce for the technical sector of the maritime industry by developing a large active community of users. MarineTalk has already captured the attention of marine professionals, business, maritime organizations and trade magazines. This section provides a record of this expanding interest in the MarineTalk activities.
The marine industry and the internet - who is connected?
By Danek Kilinski, President, MarineTalk

Internet is not new anymore? Well, maybe it is true for some but not for all and not everywhere. It is very interesting to look into some statistics how the web technology is being accepted within the marine industry. MarineTalk was one of the first marine Internet portals and for two years has had a unique opportunity to observe the trends in the Internet penetration and the level of the industry's familiarity with this new technology.

Web acceptance
We, who are connected, often think that the use of the Internet, as a means of communication at least, has been widely accepted. Today about three quarters of our industry is still not connected. Most of them still don't have Internet access or just don't use the computer for online communication. Many still send faxes in response to e-mails, while at the same time proudly display an e-mail address in their letterhead. Some big companies in Europe still use email/fax conversion. An astounding majority of our Internet users (92%) want to receive text only messages. In many cases, the software would allow them to receive graphic enhanced (HTML) e-mails, but most users don't know or don't even want to try. We see many companies spending thousands of dollars on expensive advertisements in trade magazines that don't carry any information on how to contact them by e-mail. Some have also spent a considerable amount of money to develop a web site but have no policy, budget or program to use the site to develop more business.

Low access speed and high cost are still major barriers in many countries. MarineTalk has often seen clear signs of these factors preventing companies from using the Internet more frequently. Many countries, with a very well developed marine industry, but relatively low level of Internet penetration, have still a long way to go. Even when the cost and access obstacles are removed there will be some time before those people start using the Internet on a daily basis. It always takes time for people to become familiar with a new way of going about business. We must consider the human factor.

How big is the representative market?
MarineTalk began focusing on the technical sector of the industry two years ago and have developed the largest Internet access database of over 12,000 companies having their own web site, e-mail or both. In addition, it has a large subscriber email base of over 12,500 marine professionals to its NewsLetter. MarineTalk maintains frequent communication with this huge forum. These company and email databases as well as the daily site visitors make a very good representation of the overall marine industry market. The 12,000 companies in the database comprise about one quarter of the world industry, which is significant. MarineTalk has provided a broad range of information, news and resources that people want, so that they keep coming back. These are some of the major reasons that the site is growing so fast, getting somewhere between 500 and 2000 visits (not hits) a day. MarineTalk's portal therefore provides a large statistical sample of the representative market.

Frustration and a lack of understanding
Both, buyers and suppliers are often frustrated. Buyers expect to have an easy web access to information and contact with potential suppliers. Suppliers still hugely underestimate the power of the Internet and don't make it easy to communicate with buyers. Many suppliers are shortsighted saying... "Why do I need a web presence? I've been operating for years now and have my base of clients. I don't need to spend money on that web thing ." Others, thinking more progressively, get on with their own web sites but often forget to provide contact/email information, relevant and timely data, and think ". we are on the web, so the world will come to us". They tend to forget that the Internet presently comprises over one billion pages and finding their company in this tangled web is time consuming and sometimes almost impossible, unless they spend considerable time and money on good site positioning. Considering the fact that largest search engines cover only a portion of the web, the concept of a Marine Portal as a focal point to find industry specific information is becoming more and more important and understood, but it is a hard educational process.

Companies with a limited vision and no budget or planning for an Internet activity are in for a big surprise in not too distant future. The Internet is here to stay and will expand but it will benefit those most who make an effort to understand it and use it to their advantage. It is about intelligently implementing Internet technology to improve business processes and the bottom line. Databases and information, which can be accessed via the Internet and help to make business decisions are indispensable in our fast moving world of today. Business professionals must learn to access the information and portal providers must make access as easy as possible.

The call 'Go Global' applies to marine industry too! Even small companies that used to operate in a specific port or for specific group of clients will soon face more competition 'complements' of the new electronic world. With fast and limitless Internet communication means spreading rapidly, and e-commerce entering the marine market, the reality may hit them hard. A conclusion stated in one of the business magazines was "If you're not everywhere, you're nowhere". It applies more then ever to the marine industry. However, from MarineTalk's experience, many small companies still grossly underestimate it and more awareness is badly needed. Apart from marine portals like MarineTalk, trade associations and local chambers of commerce should take a more active educational role.

Virus scares also impact the growth of Internet acceptance in regions with a low level of technology awareness. It was interesting to see how simple viruses like 'Chernobyl' could devastate computer systems in the Middle East where anti-virus software is not popular, while not affecting those in North America. On the other hand proliferation of the Internet makes those advanced regions more prone to attacks by viruses that rapidly multiply, such as 'I Love You'. More awareness and computer knowledge will help to dismiss this threat as a major stumbling block. Again, more education and time is needed.

Internet trends
MarineTalk has, within the last two years, seen some interesting trends in the Internet acceptance and use by marine companies throughout the world. This has been based on actual records of traffic and responses received from the users. One has to mention that the web statistical tools as they are available today, are not fully reliable and only about 60-70% of the total traffic going through websites can be positively identified and logged for accurate analysis.

While North America has been leading the world in terms of Internet access for the past few years, this trend is now slowly changing. Statistics indicate that about 70% of Internet traffic two years ago used to be generated by users from countries (USA and Canada) that represent only about 1% of the global marine construction, conversion and repair industry. Within the last 12 months, traffic generated by European users has doubled which resulted in the reduction of the North American share to about 55%. There has been no substantial increase of traffic from Asia, Middle East and Australia & Pacific Rim. These countries substantially lag behind North America and Europe. South America and Africa also show very low interest in the Internet communication compared to other regions.

It is interesting to note that the above numbers match in many respects some general statistics that quote Internet infrastructure and PC distribution around the world. It is not difficult to predict that many new developments in Europe and the Far East about making the Internet easier, more available and affordable as well as dramatic increases in 'highway' capacities spanning around the world, will dramatically impact the way our industry is shaping up. A brief analysis of statistics shows that when the Internet infrastructure in Europe reaches the same level as today in North America, the number of European marine industry users will grow by at least 600%. Similar projections could be made about the Far East where that massive concentration of the industry produces so little Internet activity at present.

This explosive growth of Internet use in the marine industry should not be translated immediately into full business use. More awareness and familiarity with the Internet will be a must in order to encourage companies to embrace this technology and fully use to their advantage.

One of the MarineTalk's initial priorities has been to build professional community around its site and generate more Internet awareness through frequent communication as well as phased and logical offerings of new programs in line with the industry needs and growing familiarity with the web. and banking fraternities."

(Fishing Boat World, October 2000)

Making sense of the tangled web

The internet is awash with sites claiming to offer the best services at the best prices, but how do you make sense of this minefield?

Maritime communications seems to be expanding exponentially. Only a relatively short time ago the topic was confined to ship/shore voice, telex and fax links, but email is now rapidly becoming the preferred mode of communication between ship and shore, having already secured that prime position for land-based links. The spreading installation of shipboard computer networks and management software solutions - spurred on by the ISM Code and often with direct links to the shore-based office-management chain, even though not everyone agrees that this is a good thing.
But this is only the beginning. The much hyped e-commerce is making rapid inroads into the maritime sector. There are many obvious applications for this, such as purchase and supply of equipment, spares and fuel, for example, and this is where e-commerce in shipping is already making an early impact. More cost-effective ship/shore communication is enabling the ship to participate in this process.

Web-based solutions
The next big step is the development of web based solutions. This is beginning to effect all aspects of the maritime business including the sale and purchase of vessels and the fixing of cargoes and there really is no limit to the type of transactions that can, and will, be concluded in this way. This is set to revolutionize the way business is done in shipping. Developments are already taking place to provide economic access to the internet direct from ships, using techniques such as packet data and the ability to browse offline.

In the last year or so, a seemingly endless list of new internet-based services for the maritime sector has appeared.

Many of them are being set up by suppliers, or groups of suppliers, trying to gain an edge by making their products accessible. Others are independent of equipment and service suppliers, adopting the strategy of facilitating transactions.

Amid all this, owners and managers are struggling to keep track with what is available and examining what are the best solutions for them. It is not an easy task and they have to balance the fear of being left behind in the e-business revolution with the neutral caution to avoid investing in systems that either do not last the course or do not provide the level of service promised. That is before other implications come into play, such as legal status of e-transactions and security aspects.

MarineTalk, based in Canada, is a marine portal, which, having been established for two years, is virtually a veteran in this field. MarineTalk's president Danek Kilinski commented that his company has faced a number of challenges in developing an internet-based portal for the maritime sector. "The maritime market is very conservative and although it is slowly embracing the internet the majority of marine companies do not even have the ability to access the web. Many struggle with old software and are repelled by the costs resulting from high access charges," he said.
But he is optimistic that it is the way forward. "According to predictions based on current statistics, the volume of web based transactions for all industries will grow 20-fold in the next five years. There is no reason why this dramatic increase in volume cannot be duplicated in the marine market. The internet trade volume will depend on massive participation by marine companies of all sizes matching up many buyers and sellers." Mr Kilinski believes this will happen once users become aware of the potential benefits.

"The true value will be generated through lower inventory costs, better forecasts, better purchasing decisions, reduced purchase costs and better customer service. Therefore, it may be difficult to justify charging for the transaction when the true value is being generated elsewhere. A subscription-based model is not only more encompassing in nature, but also provides an incentive for the client to use the system as frequently as possible."
Mr Kilinski stressed that the use of the internet is still in its early stages in the marine industry and that there is still the major task of educating to be done in order to make companies aware of the opportunities and risks. "The explosive growth of internet use in the maritime industry should not be translated immediately into full business use. More awareness and familiarity will be a must in order to encourage companies to embrace this technology and fully use it to their advantage. As with the internet in general, most of the early growth has been in North America, but Europe is catching up rapidly, however there is still little activity in Asia, South America and Africa.

Lloyd's Ship Manager, October 2000


"We are very focused - the technical sector is our market," observes enthusiastic president Danek Kilinski, who claims his Vancouver-based site receives on average 500 - 2000 visitors a day. With 30 years' shipping experience in various sectors of the marine industry, Kilinski turned to the web having been frustrated by conventional reference techniques when seeking products, services, and reliable technical data.

Together with VP Martin Yeatman - who has himself attained 45 years' experience as a naval architect and engineer - Kilinski develope

MarineTalk for two years and it went live early last year. Yeatman describes the portal as "An effective virtual marketplace where marine professionals find information fast, and where companies promote and market their products and services directly to decision makers."

Its database currently holds over 11,000 companies with internet access. As well as establishing its own community, the site makes money by promoting other companies and their services. "We steer people towards our clients sites and products", says Kilinski. Our publicity is registered with 15 major search engines and we already have more than 12,500 subscribers to our weekly news bulletin."

"Not everything is suitable for crossover to the internet." Points out Kilinski when asked about the upsurge in e-commerce interest. "Though I do believe activity will increase in the next couple of years, and be greatly enhanced by further integration between the internet and banking fraternities."

Seatrade Review, July/August 2000

Our advertisements in the following internationally distributed trade magazines and publications:

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  • Warship Technology
  • Ship & Boat International
  • Marine Engineers Review
  • Work Boat World
  • Fishing Boat World
  • Safety at Sea
  • Lloyd's Ship Manager
  • RoRo 2000 Exhibition catalogue
  • Handbook of Polish Ports

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