Getting Back to Business with Shipping, Blockchain, and Forecasting

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This weekend was a relaxing change of pace, but today it was time to get back to business with a meeting and two lectures.

The morning started with a quick bus drive back to the University of Nicosia where we had a business meeting with Fleet Management Limited (FML). FML is a ship management company managing 625 vessels and 20,000 seafarers. They do not own ships, but they are hired to operate them. It’s interesting that because FML does not own the ships, their journey does not directly affect the company financially. Instead they get revenue from the fees they charge to manage and operate the ships.

Fleet Management Limited does need to monitor political events and other factors to effectively manage their ships however. For example, in the current political climate they need to stay completely up-to-date on sanctions to make sure sanctioned cargo does not end up in the wrong country. Also, politics can affect how international crew members work together on board, so this is taken in to account in order minimize potential climate.

After meeting with so many shipping companies this trip it was interesting see another aspect of what makes the shipping industry run. We were told that maritime transport makes up over 90% of all global trade. Without ship management companies, ship owners, third-parties, and companies operating ports, this trade would be impossible. We saw how the supply chain was affected when one shipped blocked the Suez Canal for several days. It is almost unimaginable to picture what would happen if something happened to just one of the parties making maritime shipping possible.

After lunch, we had a pair of lectures at the University of Nicosia. The first was by Mr. Antonis Polemitis who taught us a little bit about blockchain and cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency revolves around the idea that data should be decentralized, meaning that one authorized user or company should not have the ability to control data. There was of course much more we learned in the lecture, but I thought the idea of decentralization was interesting for what it may mean for the future. Currently large tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter control the information on their sites and what is allowed on them. If power is taken away from these influential companies, what does that mean for the future of the digital age? Will our understanding of the consequences keep up with the rate technology is innovated?

Our second lecture was given by Dr. Spyros Makridakis, who spoke to us on forecasting. Forecasting is used to make sure people have the products they need when they need them. While not perfect, it uses data science and past trends to predict future outcomes. Good forecasting is important to save companies money. On a larger scale, it may help predict a recession and therefore mitigate its effects. This may come through supply chain and predicting how it needs to change if a recession occurs.

We got a lot of information today, but it was interesting to learn about influential topics that I had almost no previous knowledge on. Now I can look more at current events and see how these topics relate to what is happening in the world around me.

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