Recognizing the risk of not digitizing
Recent years may have brought global trade inefficiencies to the headlines, but the industry knew about the challenges already. A few port and shipping groups began discussing these challenges — along with the risks of doing nothing — in 2018. The choice became clear: face an industry-altering digital disruption, or help their industry create a better future for their customers and themselves.
These industry leaders chose the latter, joining their forces to speed up the digital transformation of the shipping industry. But to transform an industry, they’d need collaboration within the industry. And for collaboration, they needed to address some of the industry’s major concerns: privacy, trust, and incentives alignment.
Blockchain networks can ensure privacy and protect data. But the founders didn’t want to build a mere data repository for the industry.
They envisioned a trusted data exchange. Data would come from trusted sources. Users would contribute and access data facilitated by the platform however they saw fit, while retaining the control of their own data.
Immutable records would enable trust in the data, but that wasn’t enough. For this transformation to work, industry users would need to trust more than the data. They needed to trust the entire solution.
The leaders understood their competitors might be skeptical of a data sharing platform launched by major industry players. To overcome the skepticism, they needed to show fair and representative governance. And they needed a business model that accommodated the competitive nature of the industry.
They decided to create an independent not-for-profit consortium called Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN).
“Just like electricity transformed industries and rewired businesses, data is the fundamental resource to power digital transformation,” says Edmund To, Chief Technology Officer of GSBN. “We need a new digital utility infrastructure ‘grid’ to enable data sharing. As a digital utility infrastructure, GSBN’s goal isn’t profit, but rather increasing global trade powered by the platform.”