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ITALY’S GITIESSE UNRIVALLED IN INTEGRATED SYSTEMS FOR NAVAL COMMUNICATIONS
An Italian company is the only one in the world to produce a completely integrated system for the internal communications of ships of all types and sizes. “The success of Gitiesse (www.gitiesse.com) of Genoa began with the simple observation of the market in which they had been present for at least two decades – from the mid Seventies”, says manager Pietro Suni.
Gitiesse was created in 1985, an offshoot of the existing core business: it imported electronic navigation systems that were then sold across Italy through a network of sales representatives. The business co-existed with the direct production of special ship equipment. Around the mid Nineties, a crisis in the sector (luxury ships) coupled with the Italian currency’s instability forced the company to switch from a distribution model to an own production model.
“During that transition phase – Suni recalls – we realised that in the shipping world – despite great technological progress in terms of integrating navigation and engine systems – there was no similar progress towards integration in terms of internal communications. So in 1994 we began studying IMCOS, investing all our financial resources at the time in developing this effort. When we showed the advantages of our system to our first clients, we recorded an immediate interest, because we were responding to an unfulfilled need which no other manufacturer had been able to satisfy”.
IMCOS stands for Integrated Multimedia Communication System: it is a unique solution which takes care of all the internal communications functions on the ship and is integrated, configured and supplied by one sole supplier. The advantage for the building shipyards is obvious: still today, options for naval communications and data exchange systems are either single systems purchased through various suppliers, each a specialist in his own domain (telephony, video imagery, IT) – or IMCOS, which brings the added value of a single contact point, a single responsibility and a single technical assistance provider. Gitiesse finds itself in the enviable position of operating without competitors from the point of view of integration, with the advantage “that the average cost of our integrated system is lower than the total cost of five different suppliers”, Suni highlights.
“Between 1994 and 1995 - Suni continues – we focused on obtaining patents for our system, so we could offer on the market a product which was already tried and tested, and which wouldn’t require further and costly bureaucratic steps”. IMCOS’s approval is currently listed in all the most important global naval classification registries. Approval is a requisite for systems that also coordinate passenger security: IMCOS covers these services as well and the approval exempts the constructor from the otherwise mandatory security check for every single system.
The advantage of pre-emptive approvalturned out to be crucial when entering the Chinese market. While at the beginning, Gitiesse faced the local and European market, in 2000 it ventured into the Far East. “In China - Suni recalls – I noticed that our competitors, active in the market for at least half a decade, had adopted a ‘colonising’ approach. All the shipyards I came in contact with were forced to pay extra, sometimes even tens of thousands of dollars, for those very authorisations (certificate of registry trial) which were already included in our package”. Obtaining the authorisation before entering the market proved to be an extraordinary added value, because it brought down accessory costs making Gitiesse systems that much more competitive.
After China, Gitiesse tried its hand at the Indian market, which it entered in 2004. The approach was the same adopted in China: first of all, a study phase during which to foster contacts within the Indian shipbuilding sector. Gitiesse is also the leading supplier to the Australian market: “We respond to a particular need of the shipping industry, which has specialised in the construction of aluminium ships. We began replacing iron with aluminium in our systems, thus avoiding a series of issues due to galvanic coupling and weighting. Situations such as these are a testament to our adaptability: thanks to our size we can be flexible. That is the advantage of being a small business”.
Being “small” (the company has about 50 employees and estimates closing 2007 with a turnover of 10 million euros) does not imply being at a disadvantage vis-à-vis larger competitors. «One of our other strong points – Suni concludes – is a keen international dimension. 90% of our employees speak English, which is in effect our official language. Definitely a plus when operating on the global market. ».