Tourists and Immigrants
Two speeches stand out at a robust and well-attended Connecticut Maritime Association Show. It turns out that tourists and immigrants matter on the waterfront.
Stamford, CT: CMA 2014 is done and dusted. The exhibits broken down and the throngs of c-suite executives scattered to the four winds; some back to Europe, others to Asia and still others, points closer. As always, it was a useful and entertaining event. Beyond the networking and booth visits, this year’s conference agenda was especially valuable. There was literally something for everyone. And, finishing up with the annual Gala dinner on Wednesday night, I also heard two of the better speeches that I’ve had the good fortune to be present for in some time.
On Tuesday, I sat in on Frank Coles’ informative and entertaining address on the future of the ‘wired vessel,’ how it’s already here and why those who fail to adjust and get on board are doomed to go the way of steam reciprocating steering gear. The President of Inmarsat Maritime specifically talked about what will drive the next wave of technology – the youthful ship’s staff now just coming on board. Furthermore, he insisted, they will demand it. In their way, he said, were “the immigrants” to the world of high tech. He was referring to people who, like it or not, had been introduced to E-mail, the Internet, cellular telephones and ‘personal digital assistants’ somewhere in mid-career.
It was at about this point in his speech that I shifted a little uncomfortably in my chair. He was, of course, talking about me – the over-50 guy in the audience. As I surreptitiously checked my Blackberry under the table for those ‘important’ messages that just can’t wait under any circumstances, I also realized at that very same moment that I was at least three releases of Blackberry behind and that I was perhaps one of only a handful of folks at the conference still driving a Blackberry. I was “an immigrant.” I put the device away. No sense someone else in the audience seeing me drive yesterday’s technology.
Don’t get me wrong: I like my Blackberry. I like the tactile feel of the keyboard. I’m not much of a WEB surfer at work – I like to get things done. So, perhaps the heightened web service I might get on another platform isn’t as important to me as it might be to someone else – like for example, my 14-year old daughter. Probably, sometime in the near future, that beaten and scratched Blackberry will need to be replaced. That said; I will tell you that this robust little package takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Like most people, I’m not big on change and I am frankly not looking forward to learning a new system. But, I will. This ‘immigrant’ will adapt.
It also wasn’t too long ago when I stepped into a bridge simulator and used ECDIS for the first time, more than 20 years after last having served in a professional capacity. I admit to having been nervous, even if anything I might wreck might be just make-believe. But, all that high tech gadgetry is here to stay and somewhere, someone wants to monitor how it works, when it doesn’t, and provide data analysis to fix it when it doesn’t. And, that’s where Frank Coles, his colleagues (and his competitors) come in. SATCOM provides the trunk, the bandwidth and the platform to make it all happen. But, only if the immigrants don’t get in the way. Frank Coles gets it.
I don’t know if it was the best speech I’ve ever heard, but it was right up there. Robert Bugbee’s talk, given just after receiving the coveted CMA Commodore’s hat, had the room eating out of his hand. I’m pretty sure they taped the speech. Take the time to see it, if you can. The President of the Scorpio Group held forth at length about a number of things, displaying a remarkable ability to speak extemporaneously and pull out of thin air any number of obscure (and sometimes embarrassingly funny) facts about his CMA predecessors.
Tongue-in-cheek – I think – he spoke of “wanting that hat bad – really bad.” And then he outlined his devious plans to steal it and why that hadn’t worked. Some, he said, had it hidden in their myriad startup companies and still others, the hat had brought what he characterized as bad luck. He wouldn’t steal THAT one, he insisted, to the delight of the audience. He also warned the gathered executives about the danger of letting “the tourists” take over the business.
The tourists, he explained in so many words, had no business interloping in the business that he and so many of his colleagues knew far better how to steer. I guess I can’t really argue with a CMA Commodore on that point. This ‘tourism’ might include, I surmised, changes in how financing is accomplished or structured and in general, a shift of control to those not necessarily tied to the past nor inclined to learn from it. I’m still not sure who ‘the tourists’ are. Maybe that’s for the best.
Tourists and Immigrants
At the end of Mr. Bugbee’s enormously entertaining speech, I found myself wondering if the majority of maritime ‘immigrants’ were also ‘tourists’ or, rather, did they constitute a very small subset of one another? According to Frank Coles and Robert Bugbee, both groups seemed as welcome as a swarm of red ants at a family picnic. That said; you can’t question the success of either individual. Maybe we should be listening just a little harder. I think I’ll head over to the cell phone store and see what they’ve got in stock, what’s new and what it might do for me. – MarPro.
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Joseph Keefe is the lead commentator of MaritimeProfessional.com. Additionally, he is Editor of both Maritime Professional and MarineNews print magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at Keefe@marinelink.com. MaritimeProfessional.com is the largest business networking site devoted to the marine industry. Each day thousands of industry professionals around the world log on to network, connect, and communicate.