The digitalization of the chemical industry represents a huge opportunity, but chemical suppliers need a strategy to succeed in this new world. Changes are beginning to take place, and the speed is unprecedented, but the impact of changes is uneven, there are significant uncertainties. Strategy is an art, which is to make an irreversible choice in advance in order to create and obtain economic profits under uncertain circumstances. Industry leaders should not avoid this task, but should develop a clear digital strategy on the basis of understanding where and how their industry will have an impact.
Functional excellence: the potential impact here is huge, and it\’s starting to happen. In the next 10 years, this is the area where digitization may bring the greatest benefits to chemical suppliers, and the application of digitization in this field will develop along a gradual road. Companies that want to be leaders should start to implement it now and strictly pursue opportunities to remain competitive.
Subversion of the terminal market: in some terminal markets, digitization will lead to rapid and large-scale revolutionary changes. The senior chemicals management team needs to be prepared and should start looking for possible risks and opportunities today. If a major disruption is imminent, then every extra day of preparation will be crucial.
New business models: the impact could be very industry-specific and unfold in a more progressive rather than revolutionary way. It\’s time for company leaders to build a sense of potential opportunities and risks. This view should be reviewed frequently to monitor the main indicators of change.
It is clear that the spread of digital will create opportunities for early successful adopters of new digital methods, especially those that are well adapted to specific parts of their industry. Companies need to recognize that they are taking a subtle route and keep the right balance: This is a new area full of risks, with a high probability of making mistakes, but the risk of acting quickly and correcting the route when necessary is much lower than that of excessive hesitation and backwardness.
There is sufficient evidence that many leading companies are trying to define and implement new strategies in which numbers play an important role. Although it is difficult to say which chemical supplier has achieved significant competitive advantage on the basis of digitalization, this situation is likely to change, and sooner or later.