The World Economic Forum (WEF) launched the Digital Transformation of Industries initiative in 2015. The goal of this multi-year project is to generate insights into how digital technologies are changing industries, how they blur the lines between industries and how these transformations impact the wider society. These insights can help industry leaders better understand digital transformation—its risks and opportunities—and identify changes needed for business models.
As part of this initiative, the WEF and Accenture recently published an article about digital innovation in the mining and metals industry. The article acknowledges that commodities markets have endured significant headwinds in recent years, from regional economic shifts to excess capacity to trade friction. In response, mining and metals companies are starting to seize the opportunities offered by digital technologies. The result? Digital technologies are helping them transform their operations, business models and relationships with the communities in which they operate.
Cost reduction is a major driver, but so too are growth, safety and greater connectivity. And, along the value chain, metals traders and distributors are reducing inventories and transportation costs based on data analytics/forecasting and digital supply chain management tools.
Where will digital technology have the greatest impact on mining and metals companies? The WEF and Accenture identify the following four main areas:
1. Automation, robotics and operational hardware—to perform activities traditionally performed by humans.
2. Digitally enabled workforce—to empower field workers in real time.
3. Integrated enterprise, platforms and ecosystems—to boost efficiency with connected systems.
4. Next-gen analytics and decision support—to offer real-time support for decision-making and projections.
These new technologies will likely be highly disruptive to current industry business models. But there is an opportunity to help mining and metals businesses address short-term challenges and position for high performance in the long term. Understanding the full potential impacts of this digital transformation—and quantifying its value for industry and society—will be vital.
Read the article in its entirety on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda page, and look for the full report to be published later this year.
- Digital Transformation of Industries, World Economic Forum, 2016, https://www.weforum.org/projects/digital-transformation-of-industries (accessed October 1, 2016).
- Lichtenstein, John and Gillian Davidson. “Can digital innovation transform the fortunes of the mining and metals industry?” 21 September 2016, World Economic Forum, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/09/can-digital-innovation-transform-the-fortunes-of-the-mining-and-metals-industry (accessed October 1, 2016).