The digital age is causing a deep transformation in society. Organisations are compelled to enter a process of change that drives them into resetting their productive processes and the functional areas on which they are developing. The digital world has multiplied exponentially across everyday life and interconnection is the basis of the whole process. The maritime sector and especially the ship registry are no strangers to this new reality: the registries must confront the difficult decisions involved in order to adapt or risk disappearing.
These are the main reasons that leading naval architect, Noriel Arauz, accepted the challenge of leading the technological transformation of the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP), as administrator of its ship registry and minister for Panama’s maritime affairs.
With more than 100 years leading the business and more than 8,000 registered ships, Panama has been a frontrunner in ship flagging services since the early 1900’s. Panama offers many assets to the world maritime industry, but for Arauz, these are summed up on a single phrase: the backup of an entire country supporting our shipowners and seafarers.
Operating under the auspices of the Panamanian government, which makes it an organisation with all the diplomatic, politic and economic tools required to guarantee clients that their ships and ship mortgages are protected at all times. It has been so through the years, regardless of conflicts, wars, economic crisis, pandemics and other kinds of events. Panama has neither suspended its maritime services, nor abandoned its seafarers or its ships at any time.
These are the keys to the sustainability of the flagging business in Panama. Nevertheless, technology requires us to rethink our strategies, policies and routine methods. Consequently, the registry continues to focus on new products, commercial opportunities, processes, financial strategies and, above all else, on being closer to its clients.
The complexity of technological transformation relies fundamentally on the people and the organisational culture, since the challenge of transformation is of very little worth if the professionals – the main characters of this scenario – are not prepared or willing to get the work done.
Therefore, Arauz considers that the keystone of success of this great project is teamwork. That means a strong emphasis on continuous training, identifying and enhancing the expertise of the AMP staff, and applying a collaborative training plan based on new technology, which is attractive, interactive and easy to use. All these factors are part of the strategies under development as a means to building a team, that under good leadership, aims to innovate and transform the registry ́s way of doing business.
The maritime industry has hundreds of years of experience and its solid foundations should help it to move forward for many years to come. Nevertheless, Arauz thinks the industry needs to get behind new policies to ensure its livelihood, particularly with regard to environmental protection; the pursuit of more efficient machinery and technologies; and the safety and preservation of life at sea.
To realise these goals at a time of uncertainty, not to mention intense competition, and persuade others of the need to accept a new way of doing things, requires techniques and attitudes that Arauz has developed across more the 20 years in the industry. During that time, he has had the opportunity to collaborate in most of the segments of the maritime business.
Arauz believes that his experience and vision for the future of maritime, along with solid support and collaboration, can take AMP forward as a pioneer and role model for other flag registries across the world.