Today we went to the University of Nicosia to hear a panel from some different ship management companies. First we heard from Fleet Management Company (FML). Then, Antonis Polemitis talked to us about cryptocurrency, the blockchain, and NFTs. Finally, we talked to Spyros Makridakis. He is a leading data forecaster for large companies all over the world.
Fleet Management Limited is the second largest third party manager of dry and wet assets in the world. Today we talked to the CEO of the Cyprus branch of FML. He mentioned that when he started at the company, there were only 13 ships in their fleet. Now, over 25 years later, they have over 625 ships and over 20,000 seafarers. In order to make money, they manage ships for ship owners and charge fees to them for the services they provide.
On board those ships, they use something called the PARIS software system to communicate on board and with other ships. It provides 24/7 monitoring for all the ships in their fleet. Also, it provides real time data about crews, cargo and ship performance at their convenience. This is why the company has grown to be so large and efficient.
Of their 20,000 seafarers, only 100 of them are women. They noted that this is one of their top priorities right now. They aim to try to make the male to female ratio almost equal in the coming years.
Another notable fact is that they provide 24/7 mental health service to their seafarers. They noted that this has improved work performance drastically.
Next we heard more background information about the shipping industry that this company is formed around. Every year the shipping industry transports over 11 billion tons of cargo every year. This company works a lot with the Panama, Suez, and Kiel canals. For example, they contribute a lot to the 12-15k ships that go through the Panama Canal every year. Overall, the Panama Canal transports over 4% of the world’s total trade.
After this presentation, we heard from the CEO of the University of Nicosia. He spoke to us about cryptocurrency, blockchain, and NFTs. Antonis Polemitis is a very important person in the world. The University of Nicosia works as the academic reference for the European Union. Therefore, he and his colleagues inform them about new technologies that will be affecting our future.
He explained how the terms database and blockchain are related. For example, a database is an administered set of data that cannot be changed by just anyone. Blockchain represents the system that cryptocurrency and some other things are built on. There is no administrative presence that says “You can give person A 0.005 bitcoin and I will make sure the transaction goes through.”
Mr. Polemitis gave the example of a situation he was dealing with in Zimbabwe. One of his students got into an accident while studying abroad there. When she was rushed to the hospital, the doctors told them that she needed to be transferred to a hospital system in another country. Mr. Polemitis was contacted and he needed to request air transport from South Africa. The problem that arose was that these transporters would not accept a credit card, because he could have reversed the charge after the service was provided. This is because credit cards work on a database. However, if this system would have accepted bitcoin, they would have most likely not had this issue. This is because bitcoin works on a blockchain, and once the transaction is made, an administrator cannot approve a reverse charge, because there is no administrator.
Finally, we talked to Spyros Makridakis who is a leading data forecaster for companies across the world. He talked about his work with Walmart, and the extent to which they forecast their sales. Walmart has about 2,000 stores around the world. They have about 200,000 items in each store as well. Also, Walmart does a forecast on each of these items each week. This means they do about 400,000,000 forecasts every week.
A forecast in simple terms is a prediction of how many items they think that Walmart will need to stock in the coming weeks.
Mr. Makridakis has held 6 data forecasting competitions where they work on certain problems. Anyone can join, and use any techniques they wish.
Overall, we learned a lot about the future today, and I hope that we can see some of these ideas develop even more in our lifetimes.