Connecting with the Future:
Digitalization at Evonik
EVONIK IS TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE OPPORTUNITIES OFFERED BY DIGITALIZATION. AN INTERNATIONAL AND INTERDISCIPLINARY TEAM IS ADDRESSING THIS THEME VIA A SEPARATE COMPANY ON BEHALF OF EVONIK—AND DEVELOPING BUSINESS MODELS FOR THE FUTURE.
What opportunities do e-commerce platforms offer to a specialty chemicals company? What market insights and opportunities are opened up by easy-to-use sensors that end customers can use to collect measuring data themselves? How can we further promote the networking of supply chains in the chemical industry? How do modern information and communication technologies influence daily work processes?
Digitalization is changing business, politics, and society. The chemical industry and its business environment are also feeling this impact. From Evonik’s perspective, digitalization is not only ushering in new technologies but also smoothing the way for new business models as well as new opportunities for cooperation in the areas of production and sales. “Digitalization is a growth driver for our company. Our goal is to open up a market that is worth billions,” says Henrik Hahn, Evonik’s Chief Digital Officer.
Evonik regards itself as a pioneer of digitalization in the chemical industry. At the beginning of 2016 it put together its own team of specialists who will forge ahead with this theme. The approximately 20 members of this team are developing digital concepts and solutions and putting them into practice. In their work they apply their broad range of international experience, vast network, and mix of professional know-how from disciplines such as chemistry, business management, engineering, social sciences, and media sciences. “Each one of us contributes something different to our work. As a result, our interaction generates a creative mix that makes new solutions possible—outside the routine processes that have established themselves in the company,” says Hahn.
Evonik’s digitalization strategy rests on five pillars (see box) and has a holistic approach. The interplay of all these aspects is crucial for successfully preparing the company to face the challenges and opportunities of the future.
By establishing Evonik Digital GmbH in Essen at the beginning of 2016, Evonik created a formal structure in order to systematically promote digitalization. “Our team works along the lines of a startup. We’re focused and agile, and we have a lot of freedom,” Hahn explains. The new subsidiary will present the initial concrete results of its work in the course of 2017.
Evonik’s digitalization strategy in detail
CLOSE CONTACT WITH CUSTOMERS: Evonik is forging ahead with the development of customer-specific digital services with a high degree of user-friendliness. This development is based on the sharing of information across business units and professional groups, and thus on close contact with the company’s target groups. Only people who are familiar with the target groups’ questions and problems can develop the appropriate solutions.
SPEED AND AGILITY: Speed and flexibility are the keys to implementing digital solutions, services, and business models. As a result, new ideas can be tested quickly with the help of prototypes. That’s why Evonik can respond promptly to new market and customer demands.
A NETWORK OF PARTNERS: Bringing in external know-how in targeted ways helps the team members to gain different perspectives on its own work and develop new digital approaches. In order to receive these impulses from outside, Evonik is in close contact with startups and specialized partners. It is systematically expanding this network.
BUILDING SKILLS: By expanding and consolidating its digital skills, Evonik is creating the foundation for the sound evaluation of digital technologies and services and for the development of digital pilot projects.
DIGITAL CULTURE: Evonik promotes the development of a work culture that supports the company as it moves into the digital age. This culture is characterized by an attitude that creates space for quick and pragmatic solutions, presses ahead with implementation, builds on the knowledge of many people, and regards errors as an incentive to further development.