Emerging themes: Digital Transformation in Process Industry’s Innovation, Marketing and Sales

As you probably have seen here, we are currently starting an in-depth Peer Group process on “Digital Transformation (DT) in the Process Industries – What does it really mean for Innovation, Marketing and Sales?”. Our focus industry sector is the Process Industry and we are reaching out to VPs from Innovation, Marketing and Sales from leading companies in there.

Why our peer group process is relevant

We have set up the process up for several reasons:

  • Compared to the Discrete Manufacturing sector, the Process Industry sector is trailing in Digital Transformation / Industry 4.0. (Note: Of course, there are some fine companies which are ahead of the curve and could serve almost as a role model even for Discrete Manufacturing’s DT early majority, such as one German Chemical company, one Swedish Paper company and one Swiss Food company).
  • Looking at the pioneers (leaving out the few role models mentioned above) within the Process Industry, a lot of DT energy is focused on operational excellence topics such as Plant Efficiency, Plant Productivity and Supply Chain excellence.
  • Within this group of companies, the focus in Marketing and Sales is clearly on improving top line and bottom line (e.g. using Big Data for optimizing pricing).
  • Innovation / R&D is not so much reached these days by DT.

We are seeing a solid traction which we take as a signal of relevance. We were able to put up a solid number of interested, fine companies already. Interesting observation: Chemicals significantly lead in numbers, followed by Food and Life Sciences / Health.

We will finish the build-up of the peer group and start the deep-dive process. As we are having conversations with the companies we notice the themes that are most important.

Emerging themes

Process Industry VPs from Innovation, Marketing and Sales are looking at DT in order to …

  • Find new growth platforms (Two angles: market angle / tech angle)
  • Find new ways to generate superior value propositions / customer insights
  • Find new ways to optimize pricing
  • Find new ways to elicit tech trends
  • Find new ways to find co-innovation partners

Furthermore, they want to

  • Understand what this means for future organization
  • Get ideas how to frame these thoughts into the corporate thinking  and transformation process

Interestingly, digital business model innovation (see our recent post here) is not in the top spots of the list. As of now, we only have weak signals on why this is so.

The signals tell us that for Process Industry companies, business model innovations (e.g. “X as a service”) are harder to imagine than in Discrete Manufacturing. Of course, business model innovation in Process Industries are on the table – So for instance one Chemical company switched from selling membranes to selling filtering performance. But they may be harder to imagine and to design than in Discrete Manufacturing.

Participation in our Peer Group study

If you want to know more, please send a message to Rob Munro if you are based in UK or to Frank Mattes if you are from Germany or Central Europe.

Read more by Frank Mattes, here


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