Hello from Alaska! Around this time last year, I shared my predictions on trends impacting the oil & gas and utility industries. This year, I am expanding my predictions to encompass the industrial process sector.
Why? Although segments such as utilities, oil and gas, chemicals, and metals and mining are unique, there are many similarities among them. These include, but aren’t limited to, asset-intensive business models, common suppliers, interrelated economic fundamentals, significant roles in the energy transition, information management maturity, and information management use cases.
Given these similarities, here are my predictions for the information management trends most likely to impact the industrial process sector in 2023.
Continued move toward cloud adoption
All market segments within the industrial process sector are making good progress toward the cloud. Although this industry is lagging others in this area, the important thing is that progress is being made.
Chemicals, metals and mining, and Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) companies are leading the way in cloud adoption in this sector and continue to make progress. Oil and gas and utilities are progressing more slowly yet are nonetheless increasing their cloud adoption and will continue to do so into 2023. This is because the energy transition will require information siloes to be broken down and cloud technology will play a foundational role in this.
Acceleration of business network automation
Industries like manufacturing, financial services and automotive have led the way in realizing the benefits of supply chain automation. Where they have succeeded, it’s likely others will follow.
Oil and gas, chemicals, and metals and mining have made early strides in automating their supply networks. However, it’s far from industry standard. With supply chain disruptions this year, these early movers have paved the way for global super majors to adopt these best practices to automate complex, massive supply and customer networks and realize significant savings—up to 90% per transaction, according to some.
The World Economic Forum says “the global importance of energy security and the need to bolster supply chains will require a level of energy investment not seen since 2007.” However, there is a $22 trillion gap between current spending on new technologies and projected 2030 needs. Investments in new technologies and business network automation will need to increase in the year ahead to ensure continued access to affordable energy.
Improved content governance with best practices and technologies
Governance is defined by McKinsey as “the set of internal system of practices, controls, and procedures a company adopts in order to govern itself, make effective decisions, comply with the law, and meet the needs of external stakeholders.”
Content plays an important role in governance, as nearly every business process utilizes documents in its execution. For example, nearly 50% of projects worldwide suffered schedule delays in the past decade, and two out of the top three reasons for those delays were related to flaws in engineering drawings and associated processes.
In 2023, more companies will adopt content management best practices and technologies to improve governance, complete projects on-time, keep their workers safe and manage risk at levels as low as reasonably achievable.
Enhanced experiences for customers and employees
The ‘social’ in environmental, social and governance (ESG) is defined by McKinsey as “the relationships your company has and the reputation it fosters with people and institutions in the communities where you do business.”
Strong, lasting customer relationships are created by experiences that leave customers wanting more. But it’s not possible for a business to create long-lasting customer experiences without creating similar experiences for employees that directly or indirectly serve its customers. This is known as total experience, which creates superior shared experiences by weaving together four disciplines – employee experience (EX), customer experience (CX), user experience (UX) and multiexperience (MX) – across multiple touchpoints to accelerate growth.
The path to a sustainable future requires utilities, specialty chemical companies and other industrial corporations serving thousands to millions of customers to invest in technologies and best practices that deliver total experiences for customers, employees and their communities.
Increased adoption of AI, IoT and other advanced technologies
Reports indicate that up to 80% of employees’ time in the industrial process sector is spent searching through unstructured information. As a former field engineer in the energy industry, I’ve personally felt the impact this has on productivity—as well as other business impacts such as project delays, asset downtime, safety risks and more.
In the year ahead, advanced technologies such as AI and IoT will increasingly be adopted across industrial process companies in conjunction with other technologies to organize and integrate unstructured information with structured information. Doing so will help employees spend less time searching through unstructured information and more time deploying new assets on-time and keeping critical equipment running.