Digital Transformation

Article

Digital Transformation

Are chemical enterprises ready?

Digital and exponential technologies have weighed heavily on the chemical industry, creating a progressively challenging environment for chemical enterprises and its senior executives. This article intends to show the opportunity related to digital transformation and recommend specific steps to navigate through its challenges and realize its benefits. The report ‘Digital Transformation – Are chemical enterprises ready?’ is based on findings from the inaugural 2016 Global Digital Chemistry Survey which involved 102 responding executives from more than 50 chemical enterprises.

Catalyst for innovation

In recent years, chemical enterprises have faced a progressively challenging environment. As a result, many are focused on reinventing their business and operating models through transformational trends emanating from other industries. Yet, according to the Deloitte report – Digital Transformation: Are chemical enterprises ready? – many are missing a critical opportunity as 52 percent of chemical enterprises surveyed lack a digital strategy and transformation roadmap. 

As many global industries and sectors embrace digitization in multiple business areas, digital transformation is becoming a smart business objective beyond just improving the core of the business. The global chemical industry can benefit from such transformation, which can act as a catalyst to unlock enterprise-wide business innovation and value creation.

Digital transformation: Are chemical enterprises ready?

Transformation roadmap

The real objective of digital is to help transform the entire organization by identifying an effective, enterprise-wide, digitally enabled business transformation roadmap including:

  1. Assessing the maturity in terms of business innovation and digital (and exponential technologies) adoption 
  2. Enabling greater collaboration, internally and externally, among organizational functions
  3. Understanding the value generated by the business transformation

And while doing so, chemical enterprises will likely recognize that digital can serve as a unique catalyst to rally the entire organization around continuous innovation and value creation. Digital is not only expected to unlock the innovation potential of chemical enterprises, but also enhance the full spectrum of shareholder value (revenue growth, operating margin, asset efficiency, as well as other company strengths such as sustainability and safety).

Approaching digital transformation

Many ad-hoc approaches and experiments with digital and exponential technologies are underway in the global chemicals industry. Yet, many chemical enterprises are unsure about the advantages that can result from a digital revolution and are cautious towards an enterprise-wide digital makeover.

There are other challenges that may limit chemical enterprises from achieving digital excellence, including:

  • Current digital responsibilities are misplaced
  • Change management to ease workforce adoption of the digital agenda appear absent
  • The critical role of cyber security, talent management, and strategic alliances have not been fully recognized
  • Digital opportunities are expected the most in business operations, sales, and marketing in the short term.

A fair share of chemical enterprises in Deloitte's 2016 Global Digital Chemistry Survey do realize the growing importance of digital initiatives in boosting their innovation potential, but the vast majority focus on the data aspect. Senior leadership in chemical enterprises have a window of opportunity to proactively drive a culture combining digital and innovation, which will likely enable chemical organizations complete a true business transformation focused on revenue growth and performance improvement.

Five enablers to augment digital initiatives

The following recommendations, derived from the results of Deloitte's 2016 Global Digital Chemistry Survey and industry observations, can help chemical enterprises in augmenting their digital strategies:

  1. Build a robust transformation process, starting with a clear digital enterprise strategy
  2. Enable enterprise-wide scalability of digital by establishing a sustainable insight-driven strategy that builds and strengthens internal capabilities
  3. Create a structured approach to identify risks in complex and dynamic ecosystems
  4. Establish agile operating models that can engage newly prioritized resources to plan, execute, and manage digital activities
  5. Embed continuous innovation into a culture that supports new ideas and encourages learning.

More information on Digital transformation in the chemical industry?

Do you want to know more on Digital transformation in the chemical industry? Please contact André Barneveld Binkhuysen at +31 (0)88 288 00 03 or Willem Vaessen at +31 (0)88 288 34 96.

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