RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • With the chemical industry on the brink of profound change, disruption is bringing new challenges – and new opportunities.
  • This report explores the forces, trends and organizational approaches reshaping the industry, with new insights on driving growth.
  • Learn about the key value drivers and proactive steps to embrace change, stay relevant and compete smarter as the market evolves.


Chemicals at a crossroads

Despite healthy appearances, the global chemical industry faces change on multiple fronts, with the convergence of disruptive forces redefining its future.

Hidden pressures are mounting, revealing telltale signs of risk. Profound changes in downstream markets and the supply chain are digging in. Manufacturers are moving to more sustainable materials. There’s volatility in the extended chemical ecosystem and many customer markets are undergoing massive transformation. Global megatrends, macroeconomic trends and Amazon-era customer expectations are driving change at speed, putting conventional business models under ever more strain.

Depending on your readiness, adaptability and agility to respond, the collision of forces will bring threats and opportunities. Foresight is required to constantly scan and evaluate your exposure to disruption – combined with creative thinking and new digital capabilities to innovate for the new chemical industry landscape.

Catalyzing the New: Driving Chemical Industry Growth

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How can you calculate the risk to your business, adapt for change and turn disruption to your advantage starting today?

Four forces of disruption

The report takes a deep dive into the four disruptive trends that we think most likely to seriously impact the industry. With an understanding of these, you can target your capital investments, business models and innovation where they will be most effective.

  1. Circular economy: The traditional ‘take-make-dispose’ model is being replaced by molecules and chemical products designed for constant recycling, re-use and sustainability.

81M

mtpy of conventional capacity could be lost by 2030 due to plastics recycling.

  1. Industrial recalibration: The technology-enabled transformation of manufacturing is revolutionizing what, where and how things are made, driven by changing consumer preferences.

46+

typical polymer plants could be needed to meet rising demand for 3D printing by 2040.

  1. Digitalization downstream: Digitalization maximizes margins by enabling true end-to-end transparency, more accurate forecasting, real-time pricing and personalized manufacturing.

$550Bn

could be unlocked for the chemical industry in the next decade by digitalization.

  1. Reworking work: With AI and smart machines reinventing how work is done, chemical companies need new workforce models to compete, attract and retain talent.

47%

of manual tasks in the chemical industry could be automated by 2030.

To compete in the New, chemical companies must reinvent

Turning disruption to your advantage requires technological, portfolio and business model change. But the commercial case is compelling. A recent Accenture study, for example, suggests that a typical chemical company with 10 percent EBIT could create an extra three to six percent on its P&L through transformation—adding significantly to its profit potential.

Accenture Chemicals

Catalyzing the New: Driving Chemical Industry Growth

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Embrace key elements of success

Connectivity and data-driven intelligence are key to embedding new capabilities as the core building blocks for growth.

Be more consumer-driven

Look beyond your immediate customers and intermediaries to those consuming your products – differentiating to drive appeal.

Be more inspiring

Reimagine offerings, engage customers and inspire your workforce to attract the best talent via a strong transformative purpose.

Be more collaborative

Break down silos to co-create smart products, drive innovation, share knowledge and extend your ecosystem partnerships.

Be more intelligent

Adopt new technologies to be agile, faster, and smarter, using analytics to be truly cost efficient and drive more value from data.

Be more circular

Generate value by controlling the molecule lifecycle and enabling downstream circularity through new business models.

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Build new business models

As the chemical industry evolves, we expect five core new business models to dominate. The challenge is to understand how and where in this new landscape your business can best thrive.

  1. Supply connector: Brokering chemical products and services, typically using online direct selling and/or distribution, with few or no manufacturing assets.
  2. Outcome provider: Selling a product and/or system which addresses a client challenge or need, transforming a problem into a value proposition.
  3. Product steward: Producing one or a few molecules, with global, flexible supply chains, to bringing products to market at speed and recycling them back again to close the loop.
  4. Ecosystem innovator: Tapping into the broader business ecosystem with multiple partners to co-innovate new products and services, using multiple technologies.
  5. Portfolio orchestrator: Operating as a diversified company linked by core technologies, competencies or chemistries, with regular acquisition and divestment of businesses.

Seize the moment

To support your transformation, the report will help you identify where you want to play, the capability pivots to get you there and key steps required to capitalize on future potential.

For those who are willing, the opportunity is clear. The time to seize it, is now.

Are you ready to lead in an era of epic disruption?

Rachael Bartels

Senior Managing Director – Chemicals and Natural Resources


Paul Bjacek

Research Principal – Chemicals and Natural Resources


Bernd Elser

Managing Director – Chemicals and Natural Resources


Vijay Sarathy

Managing Director – North America Chemicals Lead

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