DCSA’s role in the digital transformation of container shipping

What will it take to digitally transform container shipping?

Digitally transforming an industry requires data standards, collaboration and widespread adoption of modern, internet-based technology

DCSA was established to be the industry’s collective voice for driving digital transformation. Numerous industries such as banking, telecommunications and the airlines have benefitted from successful efforts to digitally transform their operations. 

As with these industries, transforming container shipping requires a global technology framework that facilitates the seamless exchange of data. This framework must have a unified and standardised approach to data communication across all technology platforms, modes of transportation and stakeholders – from carriers and shippers, to freight forwarders and platform providers, to ports and terminals, banks and insurers, even governments and regulators. 

Recognising this need, 9 of the top 10 global container shipping carriers founded the neutral, non-profit standards body, Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) in April 2019. DCSA can be compared with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which has been instrumental in digitally transforming the airline industry. 

Like IATA, DCSA’s mission is to lead the industry towards systemic collaboration by creating open-source digital standards based on shared industry requirements. These standards ensure the interoperability of technology systems, and hence, the seamless flow of digital data from end to end.  

Similar to what IATA, SWIFT and TM Forum did to help digitally transform the airline, banking and telecommunications industries, DCSA is actively collaborating with industry stakeholders to collect input, promote standards adoption, and achieve broad support for a common vision and approach that will benefit everyone.  

Unlike inter-governmental standards bodies such as IMO and UN/CEFACT, whose standards meet the common needs of multiple modes of transportation, private organisations, such as DCSA and IATA, address the unique requirements of their specific industries and provide stakeholders with practical help on the use of modern technologies such as the application programming interface (API).  

Since its founding, DCSA has made great strides in creating digital data standards to enable end-to-end interoperability and facilitate some of the most urgent and impactful needs of the container shipping industry; however, much still needs to be accomplished. The time is now to act collectively and globally to create an effective foundation for interoperable data exchange that enables innovation, sustainability and a great customer experience in the world’s maritime industry.

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