GTMaritime Customer Congress: Product Development Driven by Customer Feedback
The amount of data being transferred between ship and shore came into sharp focus at GTMaritime’s recent inaugural Customer Congress, as the leading maritime communications solutions provider offered an insight into traffic handled over the last year. Over a 12 month period, GTMaritime said there had been a 28% increase in the volume of emails it processed each month with the average size of emails increasing by almost 40%.
With ships more reliant on smooth data transfer than ever, managing multiple ship software upgrades can be challenging and time consuming. For this reason, GTMaritime Operations Director, Jamie Jones, told the Congress audience, coinciding with SMM Hamburg, that GTMaritime had moved decisively towards scheduling its updates to ensure continuity of service.
“Keeping software up to date is vital for cybersecurity and to ensure that the user isn’t missing out on the latest functions. Over 500 items were developed by GTMaritime in the last year. In the past, releases took place every six months but that meant too many changes in one go. Now, we issue updates on a scheduled basis every week to ensure products are secure and that the full benefit of new features is realised.
“With weekly releases, there are fewer items; if there is an issue, it can be pinpointed and fixed quickly.”
Over the last 12 months, GTMaritime has continued to experience growth across the business. It now has 30 employees worldwide with offices in the UK and Singapore and GTMaritime solutions are installed on over 13,500 vessels.
“This is down to the relationships we have with our customers, through listening to their requirements and working together to create solutions,” commented GTMaritime CEO, Robert Kenworthy.
Customer driven product development
Product development at GTMaritime is primarily driven by customer needs and feedback, and this – in turn – has been shown by the priority given to the upgrade and update process.
Rob Preston, Senior Technical Sales Engineer at GTMaritime told Congress participants that GTDeploy had been developed to take the pain out of deploying software updates. It allows IT managers to simply deploy software updates to remote locations. Operated over GTMaritime’s FastNet data transfer platform, GTDeploy optimises data streams between ship and shore while also being able to handle drop points in connectivity, fully encrypt downloads, split-up large files, rebuild and conduct integrity checks to verify the file is whole.
In an example, Rob said that up to 32 hours could be saved when using GTDeploy and Compliance Maintenance, GTMaritime’s patch management solution that is available free of charge to customers and automatically updates GTMaritime software.
The key role customer feedback plays in product development was also in evidence in an exploration of training requirements from Tracey Kelly, Customer Operations Manager, GTMaritime.
“We understand how frustrating it is when things aren’t working or when customers don’t know how to do something,” she told the Congress audience. “However, these types of incidents also help us to identify training requirements and to support customers further; we have a range of additional resources available including service operations manuals and knowledge-based articles. Part of our role is to educate customers and partners so they can learn how to fix issues themselves.”
In the not-so-distant future, GTMaritime is looking to introduce a new service desk tool and integrated chat function to enhance customer support in addition to a new training platform and improved product documentation. It will include a range of resources such as videos, articles on how to use products, as well as sales and marketing information for resellers
“We want to ensure partners and users have a thorough knowledge of our products and services, with a bite-size modular approach in the form of videos. Each product will have its own post with various levels of training available,” explained Product Specialist, Jigar Shah.
A roadmap showed the volume of updates that have been implemented to support continuous growth, particularly for mature products, with product unification to provide customers with a consistent experience and focus over the next 12-18 months. Other points on the roadmap included:
- FastNet is still in its early life, but efficiency improvements have been put in place to make it more robust. Going forward the product development team are looking at making the platform connection ‘aware’, so customers can control what data is sent over which connection.
- GTReplicateGTReplicate has been extremely successful and the key focus for development has been around integration. This year saw the introduction of email integration and future developments will focus on further integrations and data transfer enhancements.
- GTDeploy is also still in its early life, but there are some exciting developments planned, including Microsoft updates.
- Almost half of the development items have been focused on GTMailPlus with many efficiency improvements released. A new advanced threat protection service was added to provide protection to users who are not protected by traditional threat protection, and a Microsoft 365 integration was also delivered. Next, GTMaritime is looking at merging GTSeaMail with GTMailPlus and introducing a range of email packages.
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