The goal with AI is to make Stena Line the most learning Shipping Company

During the year, Stena Line has received wide recognition for its work on digitalisation – most notably in December, when we received the award “Digital Project of the Year“ from the industry magazine CIO.

Rune Kleiberg, Head of Digital Strategy at Stena Line, explains why Stena Line is focusing on digitalisation.

“The simple answer is that customers expect it from us. On the freight transport side, development is moving extremely fast, with ever-increasing requirements for us to be competitive. On the passenger side, technology and travel are changing rapidly, which means that we are competing with different destinations and ways of travelling than previously. Through our digitalisation initiatives, we make it easy to plan, order and book. At the same time, digitalisation enables us to learn more about our customers’ needs and be even better in the area of trade management,” says Rune.

“And once customers are on board, they can be given personalised offers, with more opportunities for experiences than before. Digitalisation is a prerequisite for the future ferry experience.”

To achieve its goals, Stena Line has already taken several steps along the way. One example is the introduction of a Business Performance Centre in early 2018, which is responsible for trade management and plays a central role in analytics – to optimise departures based on capacity predictions using cognitive systems, for example.

“By 2021, Stena Line will be leading in being cognitive; in learning from customers and the market. We must absorb more information and learn more, which will enable us to change behaviour and make decisions faster,” says Rune.

Another major area is automation in terminals and ports. Work on automated check-in terminals has begun, and will continue with automated check-in for trucks and cars. A major focus area also involves digitizing other processes in port and terminals. One example is mobile support for port staff handling claims. From a customer perspective, mobile solutions are important. In 2017, the Travelmate app was launched for passengers, enabling them to manage their booking and get answers to questions. For freight bookers, the Freight Planner app was launched, resulting in major simplifications for many customers.

AI is a field that Stena Line firmly believes in. One example from the year is the Stina chatbot, developed to help customers communicate with customer service.“Stina has gone through all the emails that have come into customer service and used machine learning to analyse the questions, as well as the responses we give to customers. Stina has learned about our business – when the ferries depart, which restaurants are on board and anything else that customers may be wondering about. In this way, the machine has learned to reply to customers with a personal touch,” says Rune.

Stina does not wait passively for customers to make contact. According to Rune, she can be developed into a digital concierge.

“Once people have booked their ticket, Stina can help the customer via social media. On the day of travel, she can suggest an alternative route if there has been a traffic accident. When customers arrive at the terminal, she can guide them to the toilets or show them where to buy a cup of tea,” says Rune.

Turning to digitalisation on board, Stena Danica will be used as a test vessel for digital solutions. Successful experiences and solutions that work well will then be introduced on other vessels, such as the new RoPax vessels being built in China.

“There will be more self-checkout options and we will streamline ordering in the restaurants using smart phones. Obviously, the digital channels on board will also be used for entertainment, but also to increase safety on board. All of this makes us more relevant in our interaction with customers, whether they are ferry or freight customers,” concludes Rune Kleiberg.