Importance of digitalization grows
In fact, some of it is beginning now. In our latest DigiChem SurvEY 2020, published in CHEManager International 4/2020, EY, together with an independent market research institute, reported that many medium-sized and larger chemical companies are already using digital technology to make profound changes to their existing processes and structures.
In particular, executives told us that digital technologies are having a growing influence on their company’s strategic and operational positioning. A majority now believes that no function will be unaffected. These industry leaders expect that digitalization will affect their innovation and development (56%), customer interface (56%), processes and efficiency along the value chain (55%), logistics and distribution (62%), sales and order management (59%), and customer service (58%).
So far, 51% of executives say cost savings have been the biggest dividend of their digital experiments, but faster throughput times (47%) and more customer-centricity (43%) have run a strong second and third.
Another benefit many have noted was the relative ease with which their firm adapted to the COVID-19 lockdown. In a very short time, a majority of companies were able to switch to remote work and remote customer service, and to digitize processes that had previously been physical.
Looking back, 57% of those surveyed say their company turned out to be either well-prepared or very well-prepared for the pandemic. Now, as they look ahead, executives say they hope that before the next crisis they will be more transparent about changes (73%), able to formulate clearer rules about responding to emergencies (70%), and able to facilitate easier digital access to information and documents (69%).