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Wednesday, 28 November 18
SHIPPING MARKET INSIGHT - GEORGE LAIOS
IntermodalLast week I had the privilege to attend the SingularityU Greece Summit, in Athens. It was a privilege because you do not often have the chance to see and listen to world class experts from Silicon Valley talking about what the future holds for us. During these two full days we got to know about the new technologies and latest developments in sectors like energy, medicine, industry, space travels and many more. However, the two things that really impressed me were the (exponential) speed of change in all the sectors and the disruption that is happening or is about to happen again in all sectors. The changes are happening in such a speed that even well-known and recognised institutions keep missing their forecasts or, I would dare say, the big picture. Disruption happens, but it's coming from the outside of each sector. And this is where huge companies have failed and finally gone bust. They did not see it coming because it did not come from within their sector.
 
One of the many stories that we were told during the conference was the one told by David Roberts, who is regarded as one of the world's leading experts on disruptive innovation and exponentially advancing technology. The story was about Frederic Tudor and how he disrupted the hundreds of years of the spices trading sector by inventing … the insulated warehouse and the trade of ice!
 
For hundreds of years it was believed that meat was preserved using spices. However, Tudor – an American business man from Boston – had a different opinion. He started cutting large blocks of ice from the ponds of Massachusetts, stored them in insulated warehouses and then thought of exporting this ice to places that had much warmer climate. Therefore, he built an insulated ship and after many unsuccessful attempts and after having gone bankrupt a couple of times, he managed to get the ice out of the ponds of New England and carry it around the world going as far as India. It did not take more than 20-30 years for the spice industry to collapse. Did anyone see it coming? No. Did any of the old spice trade companies moved into the ice trade? No. So, one business man from Boston disrupted a long standing industry.
 
The story doesn’t end here. Tudor’s business was also disrupted by the invention of the ice-maker. Not only there was no need to cut the ice out of lakes, but also the ice trade itself stopped. People ultimately ended with a nice piece of furniture (the ice boxes) on top of which they put a small block of ice (delivered to their door) and preserved their food. And of course, the ice box industry got disrupted by the fridge business. Again, no-one of the ice box makers followed the trend. 
 
The above story was really enlightening as none of the above saw the disruption coming (even Tudor himself). And when they actually saw it, they did nothing but resist. It is true that in hindsight, we may consider it easy to predict, but what about our days and our world? We all see alternative sources of energy gaining ground over the ‘’traditional’’  sources and the new energy mix being rapidly changing; we all see the new technologies coming and conquering all sectors of the economy, including shipping (e.g. remote monitoring, autonomous ships).  Are we going to do something about it? Will we adapt? Will we stay with our fridge, or move to the next solution? 
 
The decision is in our hands.

By George Laios
Deputy CEO, Intermodal Group
 
Compiled by:
Intermodal Research & Valuations


Analysts:
Ms Eva Tzima

George Panagopoulos


Disclaimer and legal disclosure: For any further queries please do not hesitate to contact our Research & Valuations Department. The information contained in this report has been obtained from various sources, as reported in the market. Intermodal Shipbrokers Co. believes such information to be factual and reliable without making guarantees regarding its accuracy or completeness. Whilst every care has been taken in the production of the above review, no liability can be accepted for any loss or damage incurred in any way whatsoever by any person who may seek to rely on the information and views contained in this material. This report is being produced for the internal use of the intended recipients only and no reproducing is allowed, without the prior written authorization of Intermodal Shipbrokers Co.

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