Integrated software systems to support the marine security sector
Kevin Maddison, Managing Director of GMP Marine discusses the growing need to integrate software systems in the marine security industry to reduce administrative costs
Q: What can you tell us about GMP Marine?
A: GMP Marine provides cloud-based, integrated software to help with the administrative tasks of private marine security companies. The companies we work with are very fragmented, with some parts of the business acting independently, so much so the information being stored can be difficult to trace and share. Our integrated system brings all of that information together into a single system, enabling all the team members within the company to access only the information related to their role. Interestingly, we did not start our systems development in the marine security sector; we worked in the finance and property sectors where there is complex privileged information in administrative processes that need simplifying. We have built our reputation on our ability to take complex processes and simplify them for the user groups in those industries.
Q: Are your systems proving very popular in the Marine Security sector?
A: Very much so. Despite being new to the sector, we are already working with many clients in piracy hot spots, they have engaged with us now we are exposing our systems. We hope many of our new enquirers become valued clients before the year-end too. In total, we have identified about 190 prospective clients who operate in the marine security sector and we are very keen to talk to. We have actually gained credibility very quickly by working with SAMI – the security association for the Maritime industry – to understand the protocols, ISO requirements, and some of the software gaps in the maritime security business as well as relationships such as CSO Alliance and BIMCO. In addition, as we are a small and highly specialist company, we can turn solutions around very quickly.
Q: What type of client do you support, and how do your systems benefit them?
A: Companies that protect ports and major assets such as oil-rigs and tankers, people working in secure anchorage areas, or people who deploy teams to protect crew and asset during a transit. In the main, professional operations that are keen to improve their reputation or reduce cost in their process. Most of the businesses control personnel, equipment, weapons and logistical issues around piracy, however, training accreditation and mandatory reporting are important too. These companies have logistics to consider, such as moving individuals, pelican cases and other items around the world, including the use of floating armouries. Our system allows them to do all of those activities, including the creation of itineraries for the equipment and personnel.
Q: You offer a number of system packages – how does that work?
A: In the first instance, we have a system called Professional for unarmed deployment. Training services is a good example – where a team goes out to train staff and harden a ship’s protection. The second package, Enterprise, is where clients manage armed deployment; everything involving moving ammunition and weapons, and recording the transit for all the mandatory audits that these companies have to produce for the import/export regulations. The third version, Ultimate, is designed for armed teams that work with their own fleet of patrol boats, that may accompany a vessel at sea or patrol an anchorage area for a cluster of clients rather than just one. As you can imagine, all of this becomes very complex: especially when you consider things like refuelling, crew rotations, weapons storage and so forth: our system is capable of managing the entire process if needed.
Q: What do you think makes your system unique?
A: What we have discovered in the last 3-years is that while there are some elements a PMSC business might have built in-house, it’s not likely to be a system that they can share with anyone else, as it will have been custom-built with all the issues that that would bring to a common user group. This makes the system extremely expensive to create and maintain. So many PMSC’s have a plethora of spreadsheets or a mix of electronic and paper-based data, but no way of uniting it all. We have not come across any other company in this sector that is able to do what we are doing, even after several years of stringent market testing and research. In addition, as we work so closely with our clients to understand their needs, we are fully aware PMSC companies really need to control their activities to stay profitable. We continue to develop modules to meet their needs as they arise.
Q:Why did you decide to exhibit at Transport Security Expo 2015?
A: We are first-time exhibitors at the expo. We have actually been working under the radar until our system was “fit-for-purpose”, so we are very excited to be able to highlight the product this year. We wanted to ensure that the system once purchased could be implemented by clients as easily as possible, removing any fear of change, which is often their only barrier. That is why we have decided to demonstrate the systems with real data at the show, so that prospective clients can see exactly how it works and how it could be of benefit to them. Then there is the reputational aspect: Transport Security Expo features an entire section dedicated to maritime security, so we thought it was only right and proper to become associated with that sector. We want to meet as many people as possible from the sector. Transport Security Expo attracts a global audience, which gives us the opportunity to learn from them as well as building our own network and reputation.
Q: Why is the global aspect of Transport Security Expo so important to you?
A: One of the things we have learned is that global users all have common issues, for instance, we have learnt how ISO standards affect clients in different countries: why they have to track and prove acceptable client service, weapons accreditations for personnel, passport validity, medical certification and so forth. It is one of the reasons we added our training module, so that any private marine company can control their own courses and accreditations, and track individuals for competencies with alerts if re-licensing is required. It is the reason why we have a modular approach to our systems. Clients can use the areas they will find most useful – for instance, just the marketing area or transit management. We think our approach will help us reach more clients. We hope to demonstrate that our systems can genuinely help them make improvements in their business, wherever they are located.
Q: Will you be showcasing your system on your stand at Transport Security Expo?
A: Absolutely. We prefer to provide live demonstrations than to simply hand-over a brochure. People visiting our stand will be able to see our system in action – we will have data inside it than we can manipulate and extract. We will be able to show them the whole end-to-end process: how they can enter a client’s details into the CRM functionality, develop a quotation, store that quotation until it is accepted; then transfer it into the transit management area and monitor the transit’s progress. We will show them how they can audit the work and produce an invoice, and hold that invoice on the system until it is paid and signed off. When it comes to building good customer relationships, there really is no substitute for face-to-face interaction and Transport Security Expo enables GMP Marine to do that. With the people, we want to talk to all in the same place.