VIKAND Partner Profile: FrontM
A regular feature of VIKAND Pulse, we are proud to highlight our partners and collaborators. Together, our united efforts benefit seafarers through proactive healthcare, innovative technologies, and a global community of providers who promulgate a culture of care.
In this issue, we share a conversation with FrontM’s Kiran Venkatesh, Chief Executive Officer. Be sure to read Kiran’s thoughts on the biggest challenge the global maritime industry faces.
VIKAND—Please describe your company and industry reach.
Kiran—FrontM is a B2B2C collaboration and automation software platform company focused on digital empowerment for the maritime industry with an anchor in human factor management for a community of 1.8M seafarers and a 50M-strong distributed workforce across segments. Remote collaboration is a big problem, especially for people working at sea and in remote industries. We take a partnership-first approach with service providers and solution providers to establish a complete solution ecosystem offering for maritime digitalisation.
VIKAND—How long has your company been in business and in the maritime industry?
Kiran—FrontM is 5-years young as a company that originally focused primarily on aviation connectivity market needs. As a result of COVID, we decided to pivot in 2020, redirecting all resources to the maritime market which timed well with acceleration in digitalisation of the maritime connectivity and operations space. Redirecting our resources also shone a necessary spotlight on crew welfare which is driven by a staggering 27% escalation in mental health issues as well as a drop in crew productivity and crew retention levels. For the last 3 years, FrontM has been fully focused on the maritime industry.
VIKAND—Name a “highlight” or two of a contribution to the maritime industry of which you are proud?
Kiran—For years, the maritime industry has looked to enhance collaboration between shore and ship, including improving its operational efficiency metrics, meeting regulatory requirements, monitoring emissions data. However, due to gaps in supply and demand of satellite communication technology and niche solutions, there have been many barriers on the route to digitalisation.
At FrontM, we are plugging the gaps in shore and ship communication with our optimised real-time voice and video conferencing technology that is reliable, secure, and seamless operating on sub-256kbps. We apply this technology in various operational contexts—such as remote assistance, surveys, audits, and legal help—and in crew welfare contexts. This is a key contribution we are incredibly proud of and is a key highlight to working with FrontM. In partnership with VIKAND, we bring our technology for telemedicine and holistic human care. This empowers VIKAND’s world-leading medical team to deliver proactive and reactive care to save lives at sea.
VIKAND—What is the biggest challenge the global maritime industry faces? Tell us about your strategy to overcome it.
Kiran—Not enough gets said about crew retention and the safety challenges in maritime. Market data shows that crew retention is a growing problem and crew shortage will quadruple by 2026. COVID-19 restrictions and travel bans have left hundreds of thousands of crew members stranded on ships, some for years.
While the world is seeing a ‘great resignation’ in global markets, the boom in shipping and port congestion, exacerbated by the Ukraine invasion, means some drastic measures must be taken to plug the future skill shortage for the shipping industry.
Addressing current working conditions is a key strategy to overcome retention. This is where we are focused. Empowering our partners with the required technology to improve seafarers’ lives—whether by enhancing operational processes, enabling real-time medical assistance, accessing welfare and faith charities, and simply the ability to keep in touch with friends and family which is a fundamental human right—is what keeps us razor focused on solutions for the global industry.
VIKAND—Where are you headquartered and what is special about it?
Kiran—We celebrate being a truly international team. We are headquartered in London with offices in London as well as in Bangalore, India. Since the pandemic, we have evolved to effectively operate as a distributed team and love it when we can get together. Our founders have Indian and Argentine backgrounds while our team of 35 is made up of over nine nationalities. Our partners and clients are global. Through this foundation and reach, we share the deep values and ethics of a truly global work environment.