The successful transformation begins with the research on how digitalization changes customer demand, value chain and competitive bidding. Given the dazzling digital solutions offered by chemical suppliers, the key question is “how can we better serve our customers?” rather than “what can numbers do for us?” “companies should assess their own digital plans (current and planned), identify their capability gaps, their readiness for change, and implementation risks. These risks include too little investment in digital initiatives, too many opportunities to pursue, failure to develop the right role with decision-making power to put the initiative into action, and the use of existing IT talent where new digital capabilities are urgently needed.
With this assessment, executives of chemical suppliers can begin to prioritize their digital plans to increase customer engagement, launch new products and services, and optimize operations. A blueprint with clear responsibilities and timetable can help the team focus and speed up the actions that are most likely to improve profit margins and share prices.
In all cases, chemical suppliers should adopt a top-down, cross functional approach, including:
Assess opportunities and threats based on business and function.
Reconfigure operational models, organizational design, and business processes to support digital companies.
Identify capability gaps and learn to view technical and data skills as strengths rather than as back office functions.
Looking for the right partners – not only technology suppliers, but also those who provide complementary products. Most manufacturers should work with analysis service providers rather than trying to build world-class analysis capabilities internally.
Allocate funds and people to places where they can bring the most value, set goals, and use performance indicators to track progress.
The digital transformation provides a huge opportunity for chemical suppliers, but to be successful, it requires careful priorities and investment in new talents and capabilities. Executives must think carefully and choose opportunities for their market and regulatory environment. They should think that this is a multi-year process, although one of the most important aspects of this change will be to acquire innovation capability in a short cycle and deploy new products and services more quickly.