Sir Michael Bibby, managing director of Bibby Line Group, the last great deepsea owner headquartered in Liverpool, spoke last month to the Shipping Professional Network (SPNL) in London.
He was invited to address the issue of whether office location still matters in a high-tech world, and although he appears not to have given a definitive answer, his advice is absolutely key to next-generation thinking: stay relevant. There’s a subtle change overtaking the shipping industry as we move effortlessly from one year to the next. For most of Sir Michael’s SPNL audience, early-1960s Liverpool was unimaginable. Black-and-white images of streets that had seen better times, old-fashioned clothes and hairstyles.
The best thing to come out of this cultural melting pot was the music. What Liverpool represented 50 years ago is no longer relevant. In fact, Liverpool or London or Dubai, Singapore or Shanghai five years ago is no longer relevant. The subtle change is a transfer of focus from the past to the future. For young shipping professionals in maritime hubs across the world, what matters is what will happen next year, not what happened last year. This is seen most clearly in the way we gather the data we need to take critical decisions.
Recently I was sent, admittedly by email rather than carrier pigeon, a statistics brief from the OECD’s International Transport Forum outlining global transport trends. In spite of the December 2013 dateline, this brief brought me up to date on maritime, air, rail, road, and inland waterway freight volumes as at 31 December 2011, with preliminary data for 2012. In an age of Big Data, this OECD information is no longer relevant.