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Top 5 Technology Trends Changing the Chemical Industry Landscape

            From over 150 conversations with chemical companies and leaders, SAP has found that chemical companies strive to grow the bottom line profitably by improving agility, productivity, and innovation. Many chemical firms are still struggling to understand how the digital economy will create new opportunities and risks. However, early evidence has found that significant value will be created by embracing new digital technologies across the chemical industry, which is why digital transformation in chemical companies is extremely important. Digital technologies have the power to allow companies to flourish and thrive in the chemical industry. These are the top five technology trends fostering change and innovation in the chemical industry:

1) Hyper-connectivity

Through digital transformation, we are finding that connections between individuals and machines are rising at an alarming rate. Hyper-connectivity will make an impact across four main elements: people, business, communities, and sensors. Chemical companies are experiencing new market opportunities with more people connected to the internet, and a rise in the connections of business and suppliers through digitization. New communities are being leveraged in order to enhance customer engagement, drive personalized experiences, and align efforts across the value chain to maximize value potential. Sensors are driving what is known as the Internet of Things and Big Data, driving value creation.

2) Supercomputing

Supercomputing through the use of SAP HANA eliminates the separation of transactions and analytics. This technology enables processes that can run in minutes, bringing real-time business that changes how people work and how business is optimized. Changes to businesses can now be made in one-tenth of the time, providing chemical firms with superior business agility. Transactions can be run on any device through the use of applications for business users, data can be mined at any level of granularity, and simulations and predictive analytics can be used to develop the perfect decision. Total cost of ownership can be decreased, enabling simplification and fewer points of failure. Chemical companies can now shift their IT spending to innovation and value creation.

3) Cloud Computing

Cloud infrastructures support supplier collaboration, extended workforce enablement, asset information exchange, customer collaboration and regulatory conformance. There are roughly four cloud delivery models that must be evaluated, consisting of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), and Business Networks. Global SaaS software revenues are forecasted to reach $106 billion in 2016, which is an increase of 21% over projected 2015 spending levels.

4) Smarter World

Smarter robots, printing, artificial intelligence, and smarter products are going to completely change and reshape value chains, industries, and the business world. Robotics are becoming more humanized and can be obtained at a lower cost. Companies can enable tight value chain integration with the use of 3D printing. Consumers can even print their own products, and companies can make spare parts on demand, creating faster time to market, reduced cycle times and supply chain cost, and new revenue sources. Artificial Intelligence enables computers to answer questions faster than humans and can self-learn.

5) Cybersecurity

The risks of digital theft and corporate spying are increasing, creating a stronger need for chemical companies to set and execute digital strategies. Chemical firms must now stay compliant with data privacy and regulations, and value chain interactions must be secured. Access to digital information should be restricted to authorized users and there should be central authentication, regardless of device. Partnering with trusted suppliers is key; establishing trust is important as more non-core processes are outsourced. Companies should build relationships with few partners who meet highest security standards in order to ensure a more simple architecture.

The chemical industry is rapidly changing and developing due to an increase in digitalization within businesses around the globe. These five trends are at the forefront of the movement, helping to facilitate innovation and evolution within companies. It is imperative that chemical companies make the technological changes necessary in order to ensure growth and ultimately thrive in this industry.