In the first installment of this series, we noted that most chemicals organizations expect to increase their investment in digital tools over the next three years. In this article, we’ll unpack that finding because it has implications for companies seeking winning digital strategies.  

Let’s start with what chemical sector executives think of the digital investments they’ve made since 2020. According to our survey, more than 80% say their digital investments have been successful in achieving company goals, especially when it comes to operational efficiency and improving digital ways of working (see Figure 1).  

Among the majority of chemical firm executives who report success with their digital investments, most expect to lean in on tools that support business growth and value creation. Top priorities include introducing new product lines for revenue streams, enhancing customer experience to drive revenue and improving operational efficiency to create value (see Figure 2).

Although this group believes they’ve been successful with their digital efforts, they acknowledge that implementation has its challenges. The most common challenges are technological barriers to integration, execution timelines and demonstrating return on investment (see Figure 3). 

To mitigate these challenges, L.E.K. research reveals that digital leaders — regardless of industry — follow a core set of principles:

  • Strategic alignment. Digital leaders ensure their digital transformations align with corporate strategies to enhance customer experience, operations and business resilience, avoiding digitization for its own sake.  
  • An enterprise perspective. Successful leaders adopt a holistic approach to digital deployment across the organization, recognizing that narrow, tactical investments limit potential benefits and hinder customer and employee experiences.  
  • Granular monitoring of results. Leaders closely track digital success with specific metrics like customer lifetime value, providing insights for ongoing improvements and directly linking digital investments to performance outcomes.  
  • Top-level attention. In successful organizations, the C-suite and board are deeply involved in driving digital strategy, ensuring organization-wide commitment and alignment with business goals.  
  • Clarity of purpose. Effective leaders establish clear, unambiguous digital strategies with solid governance structures, focusing on specific objectives rather than vague goals.  

How effective are these principles? Our analysis shows that digital leaders are significantly more successful with their digital investments by following these guidelines (see Figure 4).  

This article is part of a series highlighting the results of an L.E.K. survey of specialty chemical producers across the landscape of manufacturers, distributors and end users. Next up is a look at where firms are improving sustainability and optimizing their supply chain. 

For more information, please contact us.

L.E.K. Consulting is a registered trademark of L.E.K. Consulting LLC. All other products and brands mentioned in this document are properties of their respective owners. © 2024 L.E.K. Consulting LLC 

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