Bent Erik Bjørkli is vice President and Head of the Kognifai Partner Program, Digital Ocean, at Kongsberg Digital. He believes in a more efficient, collaborative and transparent maritime industry, using digitization as a tool to make it happen. He sees it as his job is to offer the best combined solutions through external partnerships with the early adopters in offshore and shipping.
His background is from the Norwegian Naval Academy and submarine services, followed by various customer support and product positions in Kongsberg. He is now leading a team to create a growing coalition of companies that want to work with Kongsberg to improve efficiency at sea using new technologies through a digital ecosystem called Kognifai.
We talk about disruption through partnerships and how smaller teams can succeed where larger organizations fail.
It’s quite hard to succeed with disruptions within big companies. Kongsberg created some internal disruption first and then fed off of that and built something new outside of the traditional organization. This approach can work well. The new and the old can share technologies and ideas and utilize the best technologies that are available in the organization.
You can become unpopular when you're trying to disrupt your own business, especially when it involves bringing in external parties that also compete with the existing product portfolio. One of the toughest parts to get this true is to get people to understand that this is the right way to go. The key is to not compete on exclusivity of your customers data, but rather to compete on domain knowledge and the functionality of the product.
Kongsberg digital is building standard API's, interfaces and services for Kongsberg itself, to be able to create applications in a scalable way.
Building an OTIT (operational/information technology) infrastructure from unstructured data setup onboard ships is difficult. For a fleet, it becomes very complex. Kongsberg is trying to solve this challenge with their platform offering.
With 40-50,000 ships, a business model based only on data management is not sustainable. Kongsberg therefore designed their approach for partnerships, both on the application side, but also on the OEM side - opening up and inviting pretty much anyone who wants to join.
Digitalization kind of brings this aspect of collaboration to it. It's somehow more acceptable to collaborate in the digital sphere than when we're talking about utilization and traditional assets, and OEM setups.
Companies that traditionally have been very competitive can, with this mindset, create new opportunities together.
AI will have a tremendous impact on shipping and the maritime industry, now that data is becoming more available and people are more open to sharing it. We tend to overestimate the impact of technology in the short run, but underestimate in the long run.
Technologies and environments shift very quickly. It's important to be open to scrapping what you're doing and try something new. Make the thresholds as low as possible, and standardize on the interfaces, so you can test an application or a service and scrap it a year later, and try something else if it doesn't work for you - because someone else has figured out something smarter.
The more people in an organization, the harder the change process. You need a smaller setup in some areas to achieve change. Companies should consider creating smaller teams and letting them ‘play’ on their own. When their gains have been created and secured, you can bring them back in.
“Digitalization is not a quick fix, it's a journey” - Bent Erik Bjørkli.
“Companies should consider creating smaller teams and letting them ‘play’ on their own” - Bent Erik Bjørkli.