As chemical companies look to gain a competitive edge from digital technology, executives can become overwhelmed by the vast array of options. Thomas Kwasniok, partner in Bain's Chemicals practice, discusses three things chemical executives can do to prepare their companies for digital opportunities.
Read the Bain Brief: Accelerating Digitalization in Chemicals—Five Questions for CEOs
Read the transcript below.
THOMAS KWASNIOK: Digital innovation is rewriting the rules of who makes money in the chemical industry and how. Profit pools are likely to shift, as digital enables new commerce and other fast movers to go for new advantages, as we see happening in the fertilizer and crop-protection chemicals space, where more precise application based on digital agronomic advice reduces volumes and steers profit towards platform providers.
To prepare their companies, chemicals executives can do three things. Firstly, align your operating model. Build new capabilities, hire the right talent, and forge partnerships with digital analytics providers. Secondly, define a roadmap for digital initiatives. Be clear on what you want to do. Have a list of digital initiatives that support your existing business model, either through boosting internal efficiency or through new customer-facing digital products and services.
Then empower the right people to pull it through, and shatter the borders between functional silos as digital use cases typically spread across functions, processes, and business units. Thirdly, accelerate outcomes. Focus on one or two most critical digital initiatives.
Quick wins can build momentum and create confidence that the team is building the right capabilities to realize and capture the value behind digital. A year ago, many executives were still making up their minds on how to accelerate which of the digital initiatives. Today it's about moving quickly to realize the digital advantage.
Before setting a digital strategy, gain a clear understanding of your point of departure, industry position, and unique advantages and capabilities.