To those working in some of the most challenging environments at sea, it's no secret that the multi-functional safety and communications system VesselWatch is one of the most essential pieces of kit available today. Designed by Globalview Systems, the intelligent software expands the capabilities of a two-way radio system for improved safety, service and security when it matters most. But VesselWatch is more than just innovative technology, Globalview Systems CEO Matt Wright tells OnboardOnline. The UK-based team has people at the core of every aspect of their software and business and this, Wright says, is the key to VesselWatch's almost instant success since its launch in 2014.
With this success over the past six years, Globalview has carefully expanded its product range, taking the software from VesselWatch and putting it to use in new, demanding environments on land. Here we talk to Matt Wright about the continued growth of the innovative company and what's in store for the future of improved seven-star service and safety.
Tell us about your journey to Globalview Systems.
My background is in robotics. My day-to-day as CEO is mixed, but my primary role is to grow the business around our fundamental principle of making people safer in a wide range of unique and complex working environments. I started with Globalview systems in 2003. At the time our main focus was satellite communications at sea. We were part of a pretty exciting EU space agency project which focused on bringing VSAT to the market in a very novel way with a specialised antennae system.
That's where the journey to VesselWatch began. As that project moved forward, we realised that data was an essential part of what we were doing. The most important part of that was making sure that data was passed on to the correct people in the most efficient way possible. In 2012 we received the type approval for the world's first wireless BNWAS system, the NightWatch lone worker alarm, and at the heart of the system is pushing data around in more efficient ways. This kind of system has drastically improved overall efficiency and improved the safety of officers on watch. The VesselWatch software developed from there.
Luxury yachting can be a tough industry to break into for a new product. How did VesselWatch find its place in the market?
VesselWatch had a fantastic launch to the luxury market with a nomination at the DAME Awards 2014, which drew the attention of yacht owners, superyacht captains and industry peers. We soon rolled out to several vessels around the world large and small, and we have grown very organically over the past several years. We pride ourselves on our ability to solve customers problems, for example our ECDIS integration and Wind Alarm applications, which were both developed in direct response to customer needs. We've worked hard to deliver the seven-star service that is synonymous with the superyacht business. We are proud that our early adopters are still with us today. One of our very first clients recently moved on to another larger vessel. He upgraded his entire VesselWatch system, and we worked with him to ensure every aspect fit his new superyacht.
Are client recommendations an important part of the expansion of VesselWatch?
The success with the early adopters that we found, in the beginning, helped to set us up in good standing for the years that followed. Good client recommendations are like gold dust in any industry, but particularly in luxury marine. The amount of repeat clients is a testament to the software and the service we deliver. If you nurture the individuals you work with and continually improve and develop both technology and service, there should be minimal reasons to move on. That has also allowed us to develop relationships with different companies like Radio Zeeland and VBH, and do some excellent work in the rebuild and refit sector.
You state that people are at the heart of the company: a humanistic approach in a technological setting. Explain what that means to VesselWatch.
I believe the technology that we are creating is a little bit of a byproduct of what we are doing here. A people-first approach is what differentiates us. The primary purpose of what we're doing at VesselWatch has always been ensuring the maximum safety of the people we work with. In cases of emergency, the VesselWatch solutions get that alarm message to crew for the fastest resolution possible to make sure everybody is safe on board. It's about people and making safety at sea the norm.
A lot of software companies approach the kind of projects we work on in a totally different way. We focus on technology, but we first look at what the key issues are from a human perspective and what each client needs specifically. We start every project looking at those issues, and deciding how to solve them using the technology. We make the tech fit the vessel, not the other way round.
You've also expanded into industries outside the marine business in recent years. Tell us more about the company's land-based ventures.
One of our key challenges as a business is that we want to grow, but the luxury marine market is extremely niche. In 2016, we decided we would take the same principle of VesselWatch and produce InteraX, the land-based branch of the software. We started working with schools and universities in the education sector, where the InteraX software focused on loss prevention. More recently we did a substantial nuclear power site within the UK.
Do VesselWatch and InteraX operate the same?
The crossover between VesselWatch, InteraX and the rest of the Globalview Systems branches is the technology. The technology is essentially the same, so we can work seamlessly in a wide range of environments and for a variety of purposes. The principles are the same in terms of excellent service and safety; being able to mobilise quickly and respond quicker. We are talking to government agencies and high profile clients, but InteraX is the same principle as VesselWatch. It's about getting the right information to the right person for both superior service as well as in critical emergencies where every second counts. It's challenging, but it's also gratifying because we're using the software to do more of what it was designed to do: help real people in real situations.
With continued expansion, how do you ensure your clients receive the same level of service?
The opportunity to progress for bright talent within the marine industry is there. We have shown that. When the yacht owners, yacht suppliers and project managers find systems and companies they trust, they take them with them. That has allowed us to grow with the needs of our clients, and we're able to make the solution fit. Service is at the core of what we do, so as we have expanded, we have ensured that we have always had a great team in place to support that growth. Today we have 16 employees, and when we first started, there were 6 of us. More of our clients require incredibly high levels of response and support, so we have to have the team in place. We have an incredible support team and fantastic developers, so we've always been able to assist anyone wherever they are in the world.
At METSTRADE 2019, VesselWatch was exhibiting alongside Yachtcloud. Tell us about the collaboration with GEST.
The team at Yachtcloud are fantastic - they are incredible to work with. GEST is a luxury service call button - an excellent product that really dovetails into ours. GEST takes the service call button to another level in terms of both design and technology. Their initial crew call button is a single press, but the feedback loop is a subtle way of how the tech makes improvements. The traditional service call button works when you press the button, and three or four people come at once because there is no way of knowing if a member of staff has already attended the call. Yacht owners want one person to acknowledge the call, one person to handle the request. The button allows us to do that in the back end and notify stewardesses through the two-way radio. There's also a lot more options with what you can do with the calls, and that means we can deliver the right message to the right person even more efficiently. That philosophy is at the heart of our software. It's an exciting time for VesselWatch and Globalview, and we're certainly looking forward to developing more innovative collaborations as we continue to grow.
Images: Provided by VesselWatch