Windward is always adding domain experts to the team in order to boost the accuracy and quality of service we provide to our customers. But who are these experts? We sat down with Alex Gray, a Senior Maritime Industry Expert to ask him why he joined Windward and what makes it a unique place to be in his career.
What is your background in?
I started out in the early days of the development of maritime electronic data and analytical services in the 1980s, and have enjoyed the journey ever since. It’s been a roller coaster ride with huge innovations stretching from providing data on mag tapes and floppy discs to the latest APIs, and analytics around big data. The best bit has always been building relationships and trust with key clients in diverse sectors.
Windward has achieved a reputation for being a provider of high quality analytics and useful intelligence in a short space of time, and the opportunity to continue that journey with a leading innovator was too good to be missed. I hope to offer a level of expertise on key underlying datasets such as ship particulars, ownership, and the risk related ship casualties, Port State Control (PSC) ship inspections and detentions.
What have I noticed about Windward?
It has been fascinating to join a young and fairly new disruptor that has carved out a reputation and a sizable niche in the area of risk and compliance. Windward has practically doubled its workforce in a matter of a few years and is fast building a reputation for innovation in the area of AI and predictive intelligence.
I have noticed some marked differences in business culture and configurations between the larger ‘established’ players and Windward. They are very corporate and everything has to be fitted into a much larger overall business model covering a variety of business units which allows for common policies and an overall sense of uniformity; this does build a sense of company inclusion and responsibility, but maybe at the expense of fast interactive idea formation and execution. Windward is very agile and less encumbered with corporate priorities and group think, so new ideas and initiatives move at a fast pace. That’s not to say that the colleagues do not follow a set of prescribed norms and values, but due to its young nature it is also very communal and works hard to create a tight community of colleagues.
There is also a sense of light heartedness and good humor in colleague interactions and engagement and a regular celebration of special events such as the recent stock market listing. I was made to feel welcome and part of the wider group very quickly. It’s been fascinating to see how projects are quickly progressed through the coordination of multiple teams. I have also been impressed by the weight attributed to customer feedback and how it is acted upon if there is a suggested area for improvement.
Why do you think Maritime AI offers a unique solution to the market?
It creates a whole new dimension when trying to get a handle on whether a vessel and owner are compliant or present a heightened risk. In essence Maritime AI takes many complex interwoven activities, such as dark ship activity, ship to ship transfers, proximity to a sanctioned country, and puts them in a clear date order with a compelling narrative about the underlying context of what has happened. When you filter big search results and provide this level of precision you are changing the perspective on how you should treat vessel and owner screening. Delivering predictive results to a customer helps them to consider and react to a much wider set of risk attributes rather than just referring to whether the entity is on a particular sanctioned list or not.
I experienced this a few years ago when meeting a military and security customer that had huge local challenges in tracking maritime domain risk related events such as sanctions contravention, incursions and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. All the questions they asked, and the risks described, invariably led towards a solution based around Maritime AI. They contracted with Windward based on the capabilities of the platform offered, because it captured these complex patterns of outcomes and possibilities
The next stage in the journey is utilizing the power of Maritime AI to predict accurate container ETAs beyond published schedules, through the new service offering, ’Ocean Freight Visibility’. The current climate of supply chain blockages has caused problems for BCOs, freight forwarders and the container carriers themselves in working out what is going where and when. Using a tool designed around predicting more accurate arrival times will help to mitigate some of these circumstances by giving customers more certainty and greater predictability.