Press Release 03/12/2001 B

Focusing on the job?

SINGAPORE, 3 December 2001: How one company is helping the industry spend less time fiddling with paperwork and software and more time at sea where they belong.

In a time when technology is the buzzword that drives industries, Ulysses Systems Inc is intent on providing the shipping industry with innovative technology that simplifies rather than complicates daily work.

Tom Leskie, CEO of Ulysses Systems Inc, announced at their office opening in Singapore today that the shipping industry needs smart maritime technology that focuses on the job and job processes. "At a time when most high tech companies with less confidence in their strategies are cutting back, Ulysses is expanding", Leskie says.

"We help people do their job because we provide them with an information appliance that is intuitive. Our software is readily configured to what a person actually does on the job," he says, "and we make the computer fully integrate with an employee's daily tasks. After all, Ulysses itself was founded by the owners of a shipping company, Lyras Shipping, and many of our employees have actually spent time at sea so we know exactly what each job entails".

Award-winning software by Ulysses is "Task Assistant''. This product keeps things simple and manageable for crewmembers. Think of Task Assistant as the operating platform on which all of the ship management functions operate. So instead of offering various modules which handle different aspects of ship management such as planned maintenance, crew and payroll, or even inventory the task assistant breaks down all necessary functions according to the specific job descriptions of the crewmembers.So there's a section for the chief engineer, the master, the procurement officer, and so on and so forth, for each ship's officer.Under each job heading, there are facilities to keep track of every single task that a particular crewmember has to perform and all the forms he needs to fill in the course of his work. It also allows him to create other forms related to his task.

The strength of Ulysses' system lies in its complete and thorough understanding of the needs of the shipping industry. Leskie says, "Ulysses works with specialists like Professor Roger Schank to improve on the system: making it fuss-free and user-friendly". Schank is a computer scientist and cognitive psychologist who has worked in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) field for twenty-five years.

Schank, who is in Singapore to speak at the launch of Ulysses' Asian office, believes that while AI is crucial, what's also important is understanding how the mind works. He wants to know, in particular, how a job is processed, how memory functions, and how learning occurs.

Schank deplores the curriculum-based, drill-oriented methods in today''s work processes, his most recent contributions have been in the area of education. He looks at ways to use computers to enhance the learning process. "We have capitalized on his research and philosophy and developed the intuitive product, Task Assistant, that put quite simply, helps seafarers to do their jobs", Leskie says.

Users can customise the software if they wish. For example, they can add a new job description or reassign a certain task to another person. But according to Panteleimon Pantelis, Chief Business Engineer for Ulysses Systems Shipping Industry Practice, customers find that they usually do not need to re-label or reassign tasks, a fact he attributes to Ulysses' extensive shipping knowledge.

The other key aspect of Ulysses' software is that it serves as an ideal tool for International Safety Management (ISM) compliance because it keeps historical records of every form that has been filled out, every message that has been received and sent, every policy and procedure that goes with a task and every task that has been done on board the ship.

According to Jenny Pantelis, Business Engineer, the system creates a highly valuable "corporate memory" which can be used to ensure ISM compliance, as well as to provide companies with easily accessible records of their own activities.

"Ulysses' planned maintenance system is not there to tell the Chief Engineer how to do his job", Leskie says. "It's there to provide him with all the tools he needs to carry out the ship's planned maintenance programme. The software doesn't tell him what to do; he tells it what to do".

It's an ingenious way of approaching ship management, and when one thinks about it, startlingly obvious. And yet Ulysses is one of the very few companies that has chosen to do things this way. "We help people to spend less time fiddling with software and paperwork and more time in the engine room or on the bridge where they belong", says Leskie. "Crew aren't interested in one system talking to another; they just want to be able to get on with their jobs".

About Ulysses
With its US headquarters in Livonia, Michigan, Ulysses Systems, Inc. is a leading provider of computer products and services. It offers business intelligence solutions to a variety of industries throughout North and South America, Europe and Asia. With about 100 employees worldwide, the company also maintains a European headquarters in London [Ulysses Systems (UK) Limited] and an office in South America. Ulysses Systems recently announced a strategic alliance with Open Text Corporation to integrate Task Assistant ship management software with Open Text''s Livelink web-based collaborative knowledge management system to provide a comprehensive solution for sharing critical shipping information.