XChange, a versatile platform
It was during a conversation with a maritime customer that the idea of XChange came to be. XChange is a platform that equips vessels with modern communication solutions and improves the operational efficiency as well as the well-being of its crew.
The XChange platform operates on four levels. First, it is a communications hub connecting the various communication technologies on board, making it easy to switch between one and the other. Second, it operates as a platform hosting a variety of applications to support the ship operations or crew welfare. For example, “We developed an online medical assistance application that connects the crew to land-based medical assistance centres to ensure that injured or ill sailors receive better care”. The XChange’s third role is as a content distribution platform. The crew can use it to follow the news and sport. Lastly, it is a digital interface that collects on board data and securely transfers it to shore for processing and analysis. “We collect data to help reduce fuel consumption, for example, the highest expenditure of shipping companies.”
From a technological standpoint, XChange was designed using an open architecture. “We wanted XChange to be not only a platform for Marlink’s applications, but to also host all our customers’ and partner’s applications.” This collaborative approach has made XChange an indispensable ally on board.
Digital services are new drivers of value creation for Marlink
XChange creates value for its customers, but also for Marlink. “We want to be seen as an active business partner.” More than just a supplier, Marlink considers itself to be a member of its customers’ teams, whom they can task with the management of their communication and information systems. “We provide them with turnkey solutions and complete managed services. We take care of their entire technology and communication environment so that they can focus on their core business.” This shift to providing digital solutions and managed services has two main impacts. First, on Marlink’s revenues. “Combined with our satellite telecommunication services, the XChange platform and its related applications will secure and increase the average revenue per vessel and increase the customer stickiness; the more our customers get used to using our digital solutions, the more loyal they will become.”
Industry knowledge, Marlink’s key asset
To propose the right services, a provider needs an in-depth understanding of the key lines of business. “Our understanding of the different business segments our customers operate in and our proximity to them is a key asset.” Erik is keen to broaden his customer base worldwide and continue to further penetrate the various markets. “In the marine sector, for example, we work in four or five sub-segments: merchant shipping, cruise and ferries, off-shore maritime and, in the leisure industry, “mega-yachts” and fishing boats. Each segment has its own specific needs and our aim is to respond to each requirement with the best solutions possible.”
To this end, Marlink’s digital solutions will become the key differentiator. “XChange is a major first step, but we are not going to stop there. In a context in which access to high-speed satellite communications will ultimately become a commodity, we will differentiate ourselves through digital innovation.”