RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Two technologies—artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain—are set to have deep and far-reaching implications for chemical companies.
  • Our report explains how AI and blockchain are disrupting the chemical industry and provides critical insights for those looking to take advantage.


Change is coming. Again.

Despite strong recent performance, challenges abound for the chemical industry. Companies must adapt to seemingly ceaseless change, whether in feedstock costs, regulatory environments, workforce demographics, or customer expectations. But more than anything, the industry must respond to the accelerating pace of technological advances.

As attention now turns to artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain, the chemical industry will need to bring all its inventiveness to the fore once again. This report explains how the disruptive power of AI and blockchain can shift the nature of competitive advantage. It offers insights for industry executives to maximize the opportunity—and ensure their businesses aren’t left behind.

AI’s value is a given. What’s stopping you from taking advantage?

AI is already proving its worth as an increasingly fundamental part of day-to-day living. Industry will soon be similarly affected.

Bringing together tools like machine learning, computer vision and speech recognition, AI has quickly embedded itself into numerous social and B2C interactions. Industrial and B2B applications are the next frontier.

AI has the potential to disrupt every aspect of a chemical company’s business model, from customer interaction and operations, to sales and R&D. At the same time, it can open the door to new product and service offerings and enable chemical companies to:

Improve targeting

AI-based customer-specific forecasting and demand sensing support highly targeted, proactive sales—even shipping goods before customers place orders.

Boost sales

Data-driven R&D reduces price leakage through superior product quality and faster innovation cycles.

Deepen insights

A much richer understanding of customers helps identify new applications/markets for products.

Raise throughput

Advanced analytics offer greater right-first-time production, optimized change-overs and smart maintenance to reduce unplanned downtime.

Lower churn

24/7 AI-powered customer service reduces churn rates, with higher levels of data-driven service quality.

Resolve customer problems

Virtual technical sales agents support customers, resolving queries, answering questions and informing them of new offerings.

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Blockchain records transactions between parties in a secure and tamper-evident way, thus creating a single source of trusted data.

Blockchain promises to solve several long-standing challenges in the industry—not only streamlining track and trace across the supply chain, but also exposing previously unseen patterns in the downstream value chain.

It will help chemical companies with:

Supply chain visibility

A better view of demand and consumption patterns could enable real-time optimized demand planning and production scheduling, virtually eliminating overstocks, rush orders and schedule breakers.

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Product innovation

A greater understanding of how customers use products supports customer-centric innovation and individually tailored products and services.

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New revenue models

New insights across the value chain will support value-based or performance-based revenue models such as chemical leasing.

Data integrity

Tamper-evident ledgers offer consistent, validated and trusted data, immediately visible and usable by all authenticated participants.

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Fewer errors

“Smart contracts” embedded in the ledger could make paper-based documentation, inbound quality assurance and testing processes obsolete.

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Embrace the change. Create new value.

AI will reinvent the nature of work. Blockchain will revolutionize how organizations interact across the value chain. Together, these two technologies will help reshape the chemical industry and the companies within it.

The report sets out five recommended steps to make sure your business is ready.

1. Think business value

These technologies are tools, not ends in their own right. They need to be pointed at the key pain points in the business to generate real value.

2. Think bold

It’s good to have an ambitious vision. But it’s just as important to understand the technology is moving faster than most organizations can adapt to. Map out a clear change journey, including reskilling.

3. Think talent

Be aggressive in recruiting the necessary skilled resources—they’re only going to get scarcer with time.

4. Think platforms

New ways of working with data will require new platforms. It’s time to leave restrictive legacy systems behind.

5. Think holistic transformation

Avoid piecemeal implementation and ensure you can scale the technology across the business with proper governance.

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Every company in the chemical industry will be impacted by both AI and blockchain in the years to come. The time to prepare is now. Will your business be a leader—or one of the left-behinds?



About the Authors

Dr. Bernd Elser

Managing Director, Accenture Strategy, Chemicals & Natural Resources


Michael Ulbrich

Managing Director, Accenture Strategy, Chemicals & Natural Resources


Patrice Fasshauer

Senior Manager, Accenture Strategy, Chemicals & Natural Resources


Dr. Vikas Aggarwal

Manager, Accenture Strategy, Chemicals & Natural Resources

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