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HANSA 11-2020

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Schifffahrt | Shipping »We will continue with acquiring capabilities« Digital maritime training providers Seagull and Videotel together with their new owner, PE firm Oakley Capital, are on a growth trajectory. CEO Manesh Singh talks to HANSA about acquisitions and the future of maritime learning Manesh Singh, CEO of Videotel and Seagull After activities in the KG market and at Shipmanager V.Group, you joined Videotel and Seagull in 2019 after a sabbatical. Since then, a lot has happened since then. Why did you take the job? Manesh Singh: I wanted to remain in private equite backed business because I feel we need a lot of investment in the industry to take it from where we are to where we need to. Looking at the scale of the group, I felt that there was a great opportunity to create a global standard. What is the structure today? Singh: The business is basically organized in two areas. »Learning solutions« is the most recognizable side of the business, because it has got Seagull, Videotel and now MTS. The »technology solution« side is the growth business, we bought Tero Marine and Coex. For me, the secret source is coming from not assembling all these companies under one ownership but from what can you do when you start to integrate them. So where we see us making a difference is because you got the ability to create a global standard we can bag what we do on the general content to company specific, ship specific, and now even equipment specific. When I as chief officer am leaving my home in Manila, I can now put on my VR glasses and I can take a virtual familiarization even before I actually go on board. Then we can through that interface enter the ship management software ecosystem. We are building one big ecosystem where the learning and operation is living side by side. But also there is a need for investment because what was working before is not going to work anymore. In the training space, roughly 80 to 90% of the overall effort is going into training people in the classroom and the trainer or auditor going to the ship. In a physical way? Singh: That was already very inefficient, ineffective even. And now, in the post-covid-environment it is going to be very difficult to administrate anyway. This is where we are saying we we have to create something like a virtual classromm or a virtual collaboration space where you can get the individual, whether there are at home, on the ship, the office, auditor/inspector. They have access to the learning tools and are able to share information. In a better world, I am using virtual collaborative space within which you can do training, assessment, ratifications, familiarizations etc. Obviously, if I would like to have a global standard, it is always better to create it by yourself. What could be another element or segment which might be interesting for you to acquire or cooperate with to enhance this ecosystem. With Oakley you have financial strength… We are a looking at a broad range, for example at navigational safety, e-navigation effectively and how can we take electronic navigation and integrate it with what we do. The other area is vessel performance management. And then the third is more to do with blockchain. I feel we are in a very good position to do that, because we are creating a lot of data. With blockchain technology it becomes much more verifiable, much more auditable and much more transportable. So there are a lot of areas, either to build organically or to look for platforms that we can build upon, so that we can integrate and then invest in. I think a bigger share is going on the organic development of what we already do. There we are going more on more interactive learning and apply learning. Which means that you have to fundamentally refresh and create a more immersive learning experience. I talk about augmented reality, virtual reality. But then you would depend more and more on connectivity on board? Singh: The honest answer to that is yes. At the moment, we are talking about frankly ancient levels of connectivity in Digital tools support new ways of learning © Seagull/Videotel 36 HANSA – International Maritime Journal 11 | 2020

Schifffahrt | Shipping SOME segments. I think, because of the global challenge that we are facing and the shift to remote support, it will accelerate the connectivity challenge on a ship by two or three years. That will unlock a lot of potential. What is your biggest challenge? Singh: For us, the main challenge is finding enough blue chips companies. You need the early adopters and a certain critical mass to get the new technology out. E-Learning makes sense, of course, but is there also a development towards »machine teaching«? Singh: VR for me is a delivery mechanism, not fundamentally changing the approach to learning. But, let’s say we develop a competence management framework, defining what specific competence people need to have. When I go in as a learner, the system is pushing to me what I need for achieving those competences. And depending on the answers I am giving, it is prioritising the gaps in my overall understanding. People are basically going through learning material in their own time and space, they can have to apply that. You may sit for a freefall lifeboat launch programme, you will go through the video, through an assessment and then enter a lifeboat virtually. So a lot more gamified content is the future. »Training in classroom with an auditor going to the ship was already very inefficient« Would you expect any kind of bigger covid-19-driven consolidation in your market with providers of physical offers disappearing and, if so, what might be your role in this market consolidation? Singh: There are certain things that will still need to happen in the brick and motar sector. However, this will become more integrated. We will become a bigger part of what happens in the classroom. We will see consolidation on the e-learning and the distance learning side because it will require a lot of investment in technology. And it will need scale, it will need new type of gamified content. We are the market leader and we will continue to aggregate in that space, acquiring digital learning capabilities. We will not be acquiring brick and motar, their share is going to go down. It doesn’t make sense for a thousand shorebased training establishments to develop futuristic training material. We will become the material provider. The shipping industry is probably undergoing and looking at a major technological development. So this should be good news for you as more new technology means more demand for training… It takes 12 to 14 years for someone to go from cadet to master and suddenly there is a new technology and application that they have to get used to. And if you don’t train them properly… Look at the videos of scrubber incidents. That is not so much a design fault, more a lack of understanding of how to make it work. What about the autonomous ship? Singh: Both have to exist in the same world. Autonomous shipping is something that is going to develop, but it will be a very long time before all is going to be autonomous. But we will go to an environment with fewer and fewer people an board, doing more and more decisions. Therefore the demand for our services is actually increasing. Because now you have to multi-skill a person much more directions than a couple of years ago. Interview: Michael Meyer © Seagull/Videotel Steps of Growth 06 | 20 Ocean Technologies Group acquires British learning platform Marlins and enters into strategich partnerschips with shipmanager V.Group 03 | 20 Seattle-based Maritime Training Services (MTS) joined the new Ocean Technologies Group, home to COEX, Seagull Maritime, Tero Marine and Videotel. OTG aims to invest in e-learning technologies and pedagogical methods such as gamification, micro-learning, virtual and augmented reality, as well as 3D animation. MTS is known on the production of maritime e-learning content and distribution of training libraries. 10 | 19 Seagull Maritime acquires 50% of shares in software company COEX, Norway, a provider of solutions within General Document Management, HSEQ and Procedures, Project Management and Personnel. 05 | 19 Private Equity Firm Oakley Capital partneres with the management teams of SG Mid- Co (»Seagull«), and Videotel Marine Asia and Super Dragon (collectively »Videotel«), to acquire majority stakes in the businesses from their current shareholders, Herkules Private Equity and KVH Industries. Oakley is a mid-market European private equity firm, has built expertise in Education, Technology, Media, Telecom and Digital Consumer services, including Career Partner Group, the fast-growing private university in Germany; Schülerhilfe, Europe’s largest after-school tutoring business. Oakley paid 90 mill. $ for Videotel and is investing 30 mill. $ until 2014. 04 | 19 Seagull acquires majority of shares in Tero Marine, Norway, a provider of fleet management software. No organizational changes. HANSA – International Maritime Journal 11 | 2020 37

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