Effective communication has always been a challenge for the shipping sector, because it is vital that the company can check the ship and the ship can contact the company without trouble. In the past, communication was handled by radio operators, but then satellite communications came into play, and a form of written communication, Telex, was introduced. With Telex, when the ship contacted the company, the message would firstly be received in paper and then distributed to the whole company. After that, the company’s reply would be written on paper and sent to the ship. That technology served as the forerunner of modern fax, email, and text messaging, and –although it lacked features and flexibility – it remained popular in the shipping sector until the ’90s. Eventually, Telex became digital and paperless, but it still had no personalisation in terms of messaging. Still there was no sender, no recipient, no network. The same principles applied to fax, which appeared later on and became a staple for landlines and ships. Images could be transmitted through fax, allowing for certifications and other documents to be sent through.
When email first appeared, a unique email address was matched to each company. At the time, shipping companies did not use email to communicate with their ships. Instead, they used message management systems, which were not user-specific. During the ‘00s, when each person came to know what an email is and everyone acquired a personal email address, the need for personalised communication inside every shipping company emerged. Meanwhile, the decrease of internet costs contributed to the evolution of messaging regarding frequency, data volume and features. However, messaging apps were hard to apapt, because they were initially designed in a particular, traditional way in order to fit the practices of the shipping sector, thus limiting the possible changes and improvements. As a result, a great amount of software was built using older technology.
In the ‘10s, Greek shipowners’ offspring, most of them with influences from their studies abroad, suggested that the outdated message management systems should be replaced by email systems. With these attempts, shipping companies were faced with certain difficulties, mostly related to the fact that simple email management solutions do not suffice in cases of large shipping companies. This is where Astris came in.
MetaDocs team comprises consultants who know exactly how the shipping sector and the messaging managers work, and who are capable of helping any company with the changeover. Our company is equipped with all the tools and technology needed to facilitate a shipping company move from message managers to Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365): The know-how, the software and the best practices.
However, we hold one more key to success, when faced with the challenge of change management. Instead of a traditional training program, we offer hand-holding and specialised support to achieve a smooth switch over. Two approaches are used in this process: First method consists of operating both systems (messaging manager and email management) simultaneously for a few months, so that the users have the time to adapt without encountering any problems. Second method includes offering one brief training at the beginning and one more thorough training the day before the transition. After that, on site consultants are available to offer employees on-the-job training and direct assistance.
- There are still many companies that work with old systems (message managers)
- MetaDocs has been successful in 10 changeovers with over 1000 users so far
- Zero fails have been recorded. No client has ever returned to their old system