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Internet and Information Technology have revolutionised the maritime industry.

Traditionally, a transportation chain involves a multitude of activities taking place at different points and performed through the transfer of paper documents and manual processes. The application of Internet and IT has changed the entire scenario by integrating the different processes and bringing considerable efficiency across the chain.

Internet is fostering new ways in which business is done. The maritime industry has been laggard in adopting Internet technology. The fragmented nature of the industry, lack of transparency and usual geographical dispersion of various parties involved in the trade have put serious bottlenecks in the efficiency level of the industry. Adoption of Internet has become the choice of the industry to substantially increase the efficiency level and reduce cost of operations. Business processes within the maritime sector are increasingly become web-enabled to take advantage of the new technology.

Information technology (IT) has increased the efficiency and productivity of different economic activities and has taken the centerstage in today's world. IT includes not only softwares required for ship operations and cargo handling at ports but also other software products reducing substantially the volume of paper transfer and increasing transparency of operations.

The software required for a ship operation can be divided into technical software and commercial software. The technical softwares are power plant maintenance software, loading software, navigational software, marine software etc,while, commercial software includes cargo management software, port information software and others.

The loading software is mandatory for any vessel as per the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and is generally required at the construction stage of the vessel. Presently, around four Indian companies are active in the shipping software market comprising of less than 10% of the total market. Since acquisition of new ships in India is low, the software generally used is also less and therefore Indian companies have to market their products internationally. The software requires the generic approval as well as specific approval with which the ship is classified from the ship classification societies.

Other software products include Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), which eliminates duplication of manual data by replacing it with electronic data entry, increases accuracy and eliminates processing delays. Vessel Traffic Management Information System (VTMIS), monitors all the vessel traffic with the goal of improving safety and security and optimising overall port operations. Use of Internet as a medium of information and communication reduces the gap between the service provider and client resulting into lower demand for the intermediaries and more assurance of profitability.

Investment in IT required for ships is not witnessing any breakthrough because of the inability and unwillingness on the part of shipowners and the shipmanagers. More utilisation of IT for management and communication is the route for safe sailing.