Any company that wishes to stay afloat in the current chemical industry is bound to build its digital maturity beforehand. Many existing and emerging trends are already shaping the industry across the world, which include increasing competition, a shift in economic power, disruptive innovations in end markets, accelerating commoditization, sustainability, and Industry 4.0. To top all of these, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in demand shoot up in the past years and such shift requires timely action through relevant digitalization. Chemical production is seen to grow by 2.7% this year globally to match the rising demand of the chemical industry. Three key themes determine the future of chemicals now: “Growth and innovation”, “Performance and cost optimization”, and “Sustainability and circular economy”.
The potential of digital to expand each of these themes is substantial, given the state-of-the-art developments happening in networks and sensors, data availability and processing, and advances in engineering and material technologies. To sell to today’s tech-savvy consumer base effectively, chemical organizations are encouraged to implement business models that incorporate the latest IoT, cloud-based, and AI technologies into their workflows in order to accelerate digitalization and stay relevant in the marketplace. Industry executives must rethink their business models to take advantage of digital technologies and those who move now to embrace this future will position themselves to be tomorrow’s high-performance businesses. Research at process industry companies revealed that COVID-19 has triggered a step-change for investment in industrial autonomy, and 64% of companies expect to deploy autonomous primary operations by 2030. COVID-19 brought in the concept of remote working and indicated the fragility of the existing system. The goal is not just to survive, but to master adaptation of the ever-changing trends.