The global economy depends on the vast number of freighters traversing the oceans to deliver goods in a timely manner. In fact, The International Maritime Organization estimates more than 90 percent of the world's trade is done by the sea. However, the shipping industry has long been slow to adopt new technology according to The Wall Street Journal. This cautious approach can be attributed to the industry for a variety of reasons, from performance and security worries, to losing control of operations. If the industry was to embrace faulty technology, the consequences could have looming effects on economies and standard consumers.

However, one technological area has proven reliable and strong enough for the shipping industry to adopt in full force: the cloud.

Benefits of shipping through the cloud
A good example of how the cloud is being utilized is provided by the United Arab Shipping Company. The cloud has allowed the organization to automate the process of purchasing fuel. The cloud also allows UASC and other companies to plan fueling schedules, improve negotiations with fuel suppliers and track vessel performance. Last-minute fuel purchases are a thing of the past and because of this, a shipping company can potentially reduce a fleet's bunker fuel costs from 3 to 5 percent, all by utilizing the cloud. According to Shipping and Marine magazine, this automated cloud computing process can help shipping companies save $250,000 to $630,000 in fuel costs, per vessel, annually. These savings can be combined with the savings provided when a company embraces the cloud.

Furthermore, the cloud also allows for companies to track vessel performance, so if it is not meeting standards, management spot the problem before it becomes a larger issue.

It is some time until the holidays, but when that period rolls around, data capacity requirements become larger. The cloud easily allows for network access to be scaled up. Once this happens, IT departments can focus on managing the large volumes of requests, as a strong cloud management service handles maintenance needs. The cloud also enables shipping companies to integrate customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning applications.

Real-time communications are also a benefit and can greatly improve a shipping company's daily business by ensuring some form of communication is always available. This ensures shipping companies can easily collaborate internally or communicate with other companies.

Disaster recovery
No company wishes to lose its data, but in the event a disaster happens, cloud disaster recovery is made easier through the cloud, which Verizon Enterprise Solutions calls, "a significant driver for cloud adoption across the shipping industry." Essentially, vessels face many dangers while crossing oceans, from dangerous storms to international sabotage, and this highlights the need for continuity solutions. The cloud lets shipping companies store sensitive data somewhere else to manage risks and protect information.

More industries need to adapt
Other sectors need to follow the what many shipping companies are doing and utilize cloud computing, including streamlined operations, disaster recovery and cost savings.