A steady course through good cooperation
Color Line is Norway's largest shipping company in international passenger and freight traffic to and from Norway. It's also among Europe's leading shipping companies in short sea shipping. The company has a fleet of seven ships and operates four international routes between seven ports in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany. Visolit provides cloud services, operates local server platforms, networks, clients, and much of the other IT infrastructure onboard the ships and at the terminals.
Color Line is a commercial company focused on experiences and tourism, with several competitors. "We will give customers a good experience, and we will do so through good customer insight and being relevant to customers. We have made investments in the environment, sustainability, and digitization. The goal is clear for the IT department: increased digitization to strengthen Color Line," says Chief Information Officer Marianne Gade Gørbitz.
IT has a critical strategic function for the shipping company, and CIO Marianne Gade Gørbitz is part of the corporate management team.
"Color Line has done very well, and we have to follow what is happening in the market. The goal is to create growth and profitability for our Norwegian owners. We are also a customer service company that will create good experiences for customers. That is what makes customers want to come back to us," Gørbitz conveys.
Standardized and professional processes for IT
It has been a journey for Color Line's IT department, from being part of the finance staff to becoming a separate part of the corporate management team.
"The IT department works with the long-term in mind, in a structured manner, and can show a good "track record" that impacts smart investments. Good digital initiatives require that you work with good alternatives to understand which order is important. What is critical to do now and later? Our initiatives are anchored at the very top and with broad involvement from several disciplines," Gørbitz affirms.
"We have focused on the initiatives that are commercially driven and put in place building blocks of basic structure to achieve the things we dream of, such as data quality and integration platform."
"Color Line does not have the largest IT department, and it is crucial to discover where we excel and where we need to improve. That is why we get help from external suppliers such as Visolit," continues Gørbitz.
The culture at Color Line is very service-minded, and having an excellent relationship with the suppliers is essential. The maritime industry, like several other industries, has to develop further to be relevant to customers.
The following is from Color Line's IT strategy:
The IT department will be a competence center and the driving force behind the digitization of Color Line. We will be the driving force and the guide for the digital journey Color Line will continue. In this work, the customer must be central, and the customer journey methodology will ensure a customer focus.
Additionally, we have defined four main focus areas:
- Business-related expertise
- Ability to change
- Right sourcing and supplier collaboration
"Together, this informs our ambitions and priorities in work at Color Line, providing good customer experiences and a profitable Color Line."
"New infrastructure solutions are coming out all the time, but they are not interesting for us if they are not standard solutions. We make demands on Visolit to come up with new solutions and new concepts because Visolit must also develop and be relevant to us, as we must grow to be pertinent to our customers," says Gørbitz.
Cloud services, networks, and infrastructure from Visolit
In addition to cloud services, Visolit provides local server platform, network, and client operations. The company also handles much of the other IT infrastructure onboard the ships and at the terminals.
"We are dependent on a stable operation, the ships have to sail, and delays impact our passengers and profitability. Customers must be able to buy what they want, the vessels must depart on time, and the networks are the core of all this. Networking is about our systems being available at all times, which requires a secure and stable service."
Visolit truly understands the customer and shows the ability to adapt
Color Line describes Visolit as a supplier who understands the customer well and who can adapt.
"We chose to renew our contract with Visolit because we have high security and network solutions requirements, which is crucial for us to further develop as a shipping company. We operate 24/7, and need a professional and knowledgeable customer service that is always available," says Gørbitz.
Visolit ensures that changes happen with exceptional quality, incident management, and infrastructure. The customer service must also occur with a high degree of solution and competent employees.
Visolit also ensures that the applications are relevant, supported, and provide value for businesses.
Color Line and Visolit have been on a journey over the past five years. Everything has changed on infrastructure, everything on ships and everything on land, client versions, database versions, security systems, firewalls, and optimization solutions for the network.
"There is no doubt that the customer team in Visolit is why we are satisfied. These are people we deal with the most. Visolit shows the ability to adapt, we know them, and they know us; we get the attention we need when we need it."
"Win/win situations characterize the collaborative relationship, characterized by good dialogue and finding solutions together. It is about continuous improvement of processes, and that Visolit shows that they understand us as a customer," indicates Gørbitz.
The close collaboration over the last few years also yields results. A technologically future-oriented ship, "Color Hybrid," has been delivered, and the project has won several maritime awards such as "Project of the year,” "Ship of the year," and many other awards.
Network solution from Cisco DNA Center
Color Line has complex systems for check-in, booking, staffing, logistics, restaurants, and many applications that must work together to make it all function.
"Color Line are specialists in ships and experiences. However, networking is not the core of our business. What is important to us is that the network works, is stable, cost-effective, and scalable," Gørbitz emphasizes.
The network solution chosen is called the Cisco DNA Center, and the name comes from the fact that the network knows the "genetic material of the device." Everything is built on Cisco’s «best practice» continuously.
The network was first carried out on the world's largest battery-powered ship, the Color Hybrid. "When we were going to build a lighthouse of a ship like this with the environment in mind, it would also be far ahead in IT, automation, and more. At that time, Visolit worked closely with Color Line's IT department as one of its largest suppliers. Now we also have the solution for our ships SuperSpeed 1 and SuperSpeed 2."
"There have been many new advances in solutions for Visolit, Cisco, and Color Line. Although there were some initial challenges, now all parties have gained expertise in the solution. It required a little extra effort because the supplier also had to support the equipment, "dare to take the brunt," and invest a little. A collaboration led to an involvement back to the programmers in Cisco to reach the goal," explains Gørbitz.
What does the Cisco DNA Center do?
"The network system ensures that we communicate. The network is the brain and the map that shows where all the traffic is going and routes traffic. There are a lot of barriers and security to prevent unwanted traffic. The network solution from Cisco and Visolit is innovative and manages security in a completely different and better way than before. Adequate protection will provide better customer experiences at the other end, she further explains.
This solution allows us to troubleshoot and makes it easier for Visolit to correct errors. We get a set of rules for 100 switches through automation, and artificial intelligence can fix simple problems we encounter. The solution has a web-based interface, and we believe in the long run that this will streamline operational solutions.
The entire network process is automated now and defines sets of rules for each endpoint - device you use onboard (box, PC, screen / TV, etc.). This set of rules automates how the devices connect online.
For us, as a customer, it is excellent to have standardized solutions and processes. We are sure that these are stable solutions, and it gives us supplier independence," Gørbitz states.
An ecosystem with Visolit as a common point of contact
Color Line has many large suppliers inside, of which Visolit is the largest. "Visolit's customer service is the common point of contact (SPOC) for everything, and if there is an error in delivery from other suppliers, it is still Visolit we call for help. Our ships are - except for the restrictions under coronavirus - operate 24/7, and with as many as 19 departures occurring daily. We need uptime all the time!"
"Customer service is operationally critical for us, and it can be difficult for a user on our ships to find the right place to contact for help. There are several obvious advantages to having everything in one place: The error handling gathers in one place, giving you a way to where the problem could be transpiring. Visolit monitors our services and notifies us if anything should happen to our essential services."
"We are experiencing stable operations. We also work with continuous improvement work so that mistakes experienced reduce through barriers etc. in everything you do. We have worked diligently to prevent the same problem from arising. You have to develop the company and introduce new solutions simultaneously as it must be stable! Then it is vital to have good routines for the change process and skilled people who carry out the work, and we have that with Visolit on the team," says Gørbitz.
"As a well-run group and IT department, we are concerned about purchasing processes at the bottom. It's not just about price; it’s about suitability for the company’s size and competence. It works well for us that we have a local supplier who ensures we get attention. Visolit has also kept many of the resources that have past involvement in the project, which we see as a positive. We prefer to be a high-quality customer, who is attractive to work with for the employees in Visolit," Gørbitz concludes.
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