This edition of our annual World Yearbook mirrors the changes sweeping the maritime markets within which you operate. While there are traditional departments and sections with which you have become accustomed to and comfortable with, there is also a good deal of space dedicated to extolling the values of emerging e-commerce technologies, a topic that I’m reasonably sure is far from the theoretical comfort level enjoyed by many owners and operators in the domestic and international maritime markets.
The dot com craze, which has swept consumer markets in the U.S. and abroad has fully infiltrated the maritime niche, and there is currently a staggering rush by companies large and small, far and wide — both oozing with maritime experience and others utterly bereft of it — to gain and maintain market share. To those that have been plugged into the Internet for the past five years, this is hardly news. However, there is a noticeable difference in both the shear number of companies as well as the complexity of the products they are producing. While the number of current choices can more often than not lead to confusion — much as has happened in consumer markets — if current business winds prevail, the picture will crystallize in the next 12 months.
The world maritime market continues its march towards consolidation, a trend which has been prevalent for more than five years now. Whether the topic is diesel engine suppliers, tug and towboat operators or electronic product and system providers, the scenario is familiar: today there are fewer, larger companies dominating the market. A perfect example of this trend is Rolls Royce, which has consolidated a number of marine propulsion brand names under its considerable umbrella. Technical editor David Tinsley reports on the company and its recent maneuvers in his Investment in Design column, found as always on page eight. It is reasonable to assume then that the e-commerce side of the business, although still in its infancy, will also follow this trend.
Expect in the next year or two to see a significant shake out and consolidation among e-commerce products and players, with the current market of several dozen individual companies becoming the reality of fewer, larger competitors. While it is impossible to foresee the future of individual organizations at this time, it is similarly a good bet that well-financed organizations, which feature personnel with considerable industry insight, knowledge and experience to match the company’s technical expertise will prosper. Maritime Reporter’s editorial coverage of this business revolution will continue to increase as well, as each month a different e-commerce solution will be featured in our pages.