International Port Performance Congress, CIDESPORT 2021

“Information technology is not the solution to everything. It must be accompanied by a strategy based on lessons learned “

This was stated by the business development manager of Webb Fontaine for Latin America and the Caribbean, Jean Edouard Nicolet, in a panel on digital transformation and support technologies in ports held during the International Port Performance Congress, CIDESPORT 2021.

The success factors in the implementation of a change management strategy in ports and the key elements to evolve towards a smart port were some of the topics discussed in one of the panels of the International Port Performance Congress, CIDESPORT 2021, organized by the The Federal Universiy of Santa Catarina (Brazil), University of the South of Santa Catarina (Brazil) and The University od Valencia (Spain).

The congress had twelve thematic panels, distributed between October 27 and 29, 2021. In them, issues directly related to the port system, trade, infrastructure and competitiveness of Brazil, as well as others of interest were addressed even more global.

Among the latter, “Digital transformation and support technologies in ports”, which was moderated by Rosa González, PhD in Engineering Sciences, an academic at the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences of the Universidad de los Andes. They presented Jean Edouard Nicolet, business development manager for Latin America and the Caribbean at Webb Fontaine, a company that provides solutions based on artificial intelligence for commerce; Sergio Gorgone, manager of information technologies of the Port of Buenos Aires; and Eduardo Lalla-Ruiz, Research Professor of Logistics and Operations at the University of Twente (Netherlands).

Nicolet spoke of the keys to successful implementation and operation by creating an efficient and transparent port and logistics ecosystem. He stated that it is essential to have a change management and training strategy. In this regard, he said that the strategy “will be different in each system, but it is important”; In addition, public-private collaboration is crucial to generate a port community system (PCS, the acronym in English); and “you do not have to reinvent the wheel, there are many countries that have already implemented a PCS and it is not necessary to be ‘a new developer’, but to consult those who know how to do it, such as Hamburg and other large ports, and providers with experience handling different contexts (in the different continents) ”.

For the Webb Fontaine executive, “each organization must think, before implementing a system, that this will be a great challenge in their organization in terms of change; that is why it must focus on a very transparent communication strategy and training very close to the end users”.

The engineer specialized in information technology systems management was emphatic, yes, in maintaining that “computer systems are not the solution to everything. That is to say, not because we are going to digitize a system that is inefficient, magically a very fluid process is going to come, with great efficiency”. He recommended that before implementing a system, ports and companies should analyze their internal processes and also those they develop in the community. “The port community – Nicolet said – must have an interoperability strategy between all systems and define very clearly the role of those systems.” This, as he explained, in view of the fact that “today there is a lot of confusion between what a PCS does, the role of each one, who manages each process … And (solving) that is key before implementing: (generating) a map of the systems, who is going to handle what kind of process. This does not happen much in the ports yet and it is in the implementation phase that these questions come ”.

It is that, as stated the manager of business development of Webb Fontaine, the PCS “demand to think in collaboration, that the community think in a collaborative way. The implementation of a community system can be a very interesting occasion for everyone to sit down at the table, think long-term and talk about the challenges: what do we want to create with this type of system ”. On this, Nicolet suggested “trying to have a scheme of great challenges and problems, (agree) what computer system or new processes we can implement to help us face those problems or challenges, how in the long term we are going to create an implementation strategy, collaboration and reorganization of the logistics chain ”.


In his speech, Sergio Gorgone spoke of the digital development process of the Port of Buenos Aires, whose last milestone is 2020, when the strategic modernization plan was launched. He said that the port digital transformation, in the case of Buenos Aires, “has a holistic approach”, which starts from recognizing critical processes and knowing the flows.

Lalla-Ruiz referred, meanwhile, to smart ports, recalling that among their logistical objectives they seek to improve communication, security, coordination and other aspects through the combination of concepts based on information technologies, methods and tools. And, citing an authority, he argued that smart ports “waste neither time, money, nor natural resources”, and are the ones that “will survive in the future.”

The academic explained that the procedures in smart ports allow to enhance the use of available resources by improving coordination and response capacity to changing circumstances, through the exploitation of integrated sources of information, the integration of mathematical techniques and algorithms, the use of real-time decision analysis and taking into account the potential economic and ecological impacts of possible actions, for example, the carbon footprint. All this requires the willingness of port actors to share information and adapt processes; advanced information and communication technologies to measure, process and exchange big data; methods for estimating possible outcomes and decision support methods.

See the full panel at, starting at the hour and 20 minutesEnds

About Webb Fontaine

Webb Fontaine is a world-leading technology company re-shaping the future of Trade. Trusted by governments globally, Webb Fontaine provides industry wide solutions to accelerate Trade development and modernisation. The company uses unique technology including Artificial Intelligence to enable countries to emerge as leaders in the future of Trade.