How many days have you returned home totally exhausted after a busy day in the office? And not only this, but you are also worried since you did not have the time to read all your emails while your vessels are still unfixed. I have also felt this in the past so guess that It is not only one day or two but it is almost a daily fact. Have you ever thought what is it about and how can you overcome this embarrassing situation?
Probably your schedule is so busy that you have not taken the opportunity to think about this problem? You arrive at your office early in the morning; you sit at your desk and you see already a hundred of emails arrived overnight, while you have a couple of vessels opening in the next days. You are emailing the positions to your close charterers, but there is no reaction, so you are sending same to the brokers who start bombarding your mailbox with every possible cargo in the area. You may end up with thousands of daily emails, only a few real opportunities and a big headache in your effort to read and filter all these emails, remove the duplicates and ignore irrelevant cargoes, make estimations, understand which business are profitable and take decisions. If you also consider the phone calls or skype, which blinks and requires your attention each and every time that you receive a message, the situation becomes even harder. Finally, not only you cannot properly evaluate what you get but you are highly stressed, feel very anxious that you may not find the best cargo for your ships and at the end of the day you not always get the proper decision. And fairly the same story happens in charterer’s office, when there is an urgent new shipment or the need to replace a delayed ship. Most chartering managers believe that this is “normal conditions” of their workflow. But is this the case or is this just a nightmare?
Actually, this situation is called “Information Overload” or “Information Fatigue Syndrome” (IFS). This term was introduced by the psychologist Dr. David Lewis in the early 90’s when he advised that the excess exposure of information may be as dangerous as the limited exposure in same. More information about this syndrome can be found in an article written by Joseph Ruff for the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
In the middle of this information overload, your headache is getting worse. You can drink some coffee or maybe have a walk to get a fresh breath, however you have to come back and manage your work. Another solution might be to increase your company's staff; however, in today’s poor shipping markets, all companies are trying to minimize their operating costs rather increase same. So, are there any other drastic measures to manage this?
The answer is: YES, with the use of automated technologies in ship chartering. The OpenSea marketplace introduced features which can effectively deal with the management of information overload. But how is this taking place?
Information overload is mainly caused by three reasons which the technologically advanced online marketplace can manage with ease:
The big inflow of information (quantity): A typical chartering manager or broker gets hundreds (if not thousands) of emails daily. Professionals are used to exchanging every possible business (even multiple times a day) whether it fits with a vessel/cargo or not, whether it is firm or not. OpenSea users get only offers which are related with their ship's position or cargo and they are informed when a good fit is found.
The time required to process information: A feature which has been found to help people manage the information overload is the use of graphical representations instead of text. This happens because people can process pictures much faster than a text message. The online map of OpenSea, which includes the ships and cargoes all over the world, is such a feature which could enable the users to take a quick and comprehensive look at the opportunities close to their position as well as get a clear picture of the supply and demand dynamics at each part of the world. Furthermore, when you receive offers, the details are structured in a simplified format which is easily readable while the communication is stored online in order to allow the user act fast and save time.
Relevancy of information (quality): We are sure that a big number of emails you receive every day are completely irrelevant to your needs. It has been found that an average of 33% of the emails is considered by the workers as irrelevant or unnecessary. In ship chartering this number is definitely much higher. To overcome this, the online marketplace does have a filtering feature which allows the users put their criteria of what they are looking for and the system presents the relevant results. Therefore, a few clicks are just required in order to get only those businesses which meet your specific criteria each time.
Information overload in the ship chartering might be increasing as long as traditional means of communications are only used. Instead, automated technologies can improve the quality and lower the quantity of information exchanged as well as shorten the processing time by providing to its users the opportunity to find exactly what they need in just a few seconds and then focus on the fixture itself.
So why don't you take the chance to get rid of that mess with reading emails every minute of the day? Why don't you leave aside this information overload which comes from the painful matching process and use an automated system which can make your work and life easier? You can do this. Then, you will be able to concentrate on building relationships with new clients, since you will always get the best offers first, while there are people in our industry who still use faxes and write with telex abbreviations. Be smarter and gain a technological advantage today. Or at least, find out how to fix your ship or cargo in just a few minutes with OpenSea.