Superyacht Technology News hears from Steve Puckering, CEO of Smart Technology Advisers
I was sat having a pleasant conversation with a well-known and highly respected figure in the Dutch ship-building industry, when he asked me a pertinent question:
When you and I were running the two biggest technology companies in this industry, when did we ever see or ever need an adviser, and why do I need one now, especially as a shipyard?
As regularly happens in these type of conversations, the answer was already evident. Technology breeds further advancement and higher expectations. This in turn leads to a faster rate of change and an explosion in options available to you. To the general consumer this is a conundrum, but is nearly always narrowed by their available budget. However, for an UHNW individual that narrowing is practically removed. They are left with too many choices and it can seem impossible to work out what is actually feasible, what value the technology will bring, whether it works and ultimately whether it will improve their life. Then came the ‘slam-dunk’ answer I was looking for; the clients we are dealing with now are more demanding and more commercially savvy then those of even a decade ago. Get the client’s expectations wrong, innocently in most cases, and you pay for it – sometimes quite literally.
One of the definitions of an adviser is a Qualified Subject Specialist. At SMART, we take the view that whilst this is our core purpose in respect to technology, we also have arguably one of the best commercial teams that assess technology costs and risk at an early stage. Hence costs, requirements, risks, time and most of all budget can be accurately assessed at the pre-contract stage if need be.
In my former role as CEO of one of the biggest integrators in the industry, I have to admit to being constantly frustrated by frowns and/or raised eyebrows from the shipyard when there was suggestion of a fantastic new piece of technology that I knew an owner would love. Now however, with SMART being trusted by one of the most prolific yacht owners in the world and one of the largest yacht builders in the industry (contracted on an impartial 50/50 basis), we understand the well-oiled machine that is the shipyard and why these requests can sometimes appear to be an obstacle to the delivery process.
At SMART, we don’t supply any products, or have any supplier links. This means we can honestly sit in the middle and do what we are best at – advising on technology, it’s true value, the effect on the time line and its implementation. The owner or the shipyard can choose where to place the contract without risk or unwanted influence. To us, it makes little difference if the budget is €1M or €20M, as we work on a fixed and open fee. Neutrality, objectivity and impartiality are the foundations of our success to date.
The SMART mantra is LISTEN-DESIGN-DELIVER and that has served us well for all of our high profile and prestigious deliveries to date. If we continue to fuse that ethos with the shipyard’s requirements, which we know are accurate costs, client satisfaction and timely information flow, then you can begin to understand how and why we enhance their team and add tangible value to it.
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