Industry Insights

Digital Reinvention™ is critical for chemical companies

Digital technologies are altering chemical companies’ operations, including research and development, manufacturing and supply chain. These technologies are also creating unprecedented levels of industry dislocation, with new entrants fundamentally changing the economics of business. To thrive, chemical companies need to digitally reinvent themselves.

The IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) examined the responses of 300 chemicals executives who participated in a global study on digital transformation in the chemicals and petroleum industry. In this research, we found out that chemical companies see a collection of digital technologies as critical to their strategies.


In addition, we identified three things that chemical “outperformers” do that organizations can learn from.

Pursue a new strategic focus – Chemical businesses need to develop new ways of realizing and monetizing value. Outperformers see cloud computing (87 percent), the IoT (85 percent) and cognitive computing (77 percent) as essential for new business models and innovation.

Establish new ways of working – Chemical businesses need to digitize products, services and processes that redefine customer experiences and augment these steps with digital technologies to create fully integrated, flexible and agile operating environments. Outperformers are applying these digital technologies across their value chains including distribution and logistics (84 percent), customer management, quality and warranty (82 percent) and sales and marketing (80 percent).

Build new expertise – Chemical businesses need to identify, retain and build the necessary talent to create and sustain a digital organization. Outperformers have taken concrete steps toward talent improvements, including targeting acquisitions for digital skills (89 percent) and using leadership commitment to drive a digital culture (81 percent).

To learn more, read the full report and visit

Chemicals and Petroleum Lead, CFO Lead, IBM Institute for Business Value

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