Virtually every industry has gone through significant changes over the past 18 months. COVID-19 has not only shifted the ways we get work done, but also the priorities of organizations. ASUG recently surveyed its members working in the chemicals sector, asking them a wide range of questions from the hurdles the chemicals industry is facing to how they are implementing and leveraging SAP technologies. Earlier this week, ASUG hosted a webcast breaking down the results of that survey, going over the highlights, and giving members a look at how this industry is shifting.

The webcast featured Marissa Gilbert, director of research at ASUG, who was joined by Jackie Grunwald, vice president and CIO at Advansix. Gilbert walked attendees through the research results, while Grunwald gave her perspective as an SAP customer operating in the chemicals industry.

“Every industry is seeing substantial change right now,” Gilbert said. “With research like this, we can give our members an inside look at a particular sector’s key trends, pressures, and shifts. Most importantly, we can show our members how their peers are tackling crucial projects like increasing security, hiring effective workforces, and facilitating digital transformation.”

Here are some key takeaways from the webcast.

The State of the Chemicals Industry

Gilbert kicked off the webcast by discussing some of the key interests among SAP Chemicals customers: digital transformation, safety and compliance, environmental friendliness, and access to raw materials. Grunwald named that “in a number of ways we have an opportunity to change the way we work through digital transformation,” highlighting how this process can help SAP customers reduce “mundane and repetitive work,” build connected and responsive supply chains, and leverage data and analytics to improve efficiency and work processes.

Part of the research focused on what capabilities and solutions customers expect to significantly affect their work and change their jobs. Data management and supply chains topped this list, with 45% of respondents predicting that data and analytics dashboards will have a significant impact on their day-to-day work in the next year. Similarly, 74% of respondents said that visibility and delivery data and technology are important to their jobs.

Business Challenges in the Chemical Industry

Another major focus of the research is how SAP customers in the chemicals sector are responding to challenges and changes in the industry. One of the questions asked respondents how much of an impact certain business challenges are having on the jobs in the chemicals industry. Sustainability topped the list, with 49% of respondents indicated that it will have a significant impact, and 39% said it will have a moderate impact. SAP has recently put a lot of focus on sustainability and has been working on solutions to help customers track important metrics like their carbon footprints.

Supply chains and procurement are a focus of SAP customers in the chemicals industry. According to the research, 39% of respondents indicated that supplier shortages will have a significant impact on their jobs, and 36% saying it will have a moderate impact. 37% of respondents said that sourcing and procurement will have a significant impact, with 30% saying it will have a moderate impact.

SAP and the Chemicals Industry

This research also examined how SAP customers in the chemicals industry are leveraging SAP solutions. In terms of overall use of SAP software, 67% of respondents indicated that they are leveraging SAP for supply chain management, while another 67% are using SAP ERP solutions and 52% are using the company’s solutions for finance capabilities. One of the questions focused on the SAP instances that customers are using. Hybrid on-premises solutions was a popular answer, 49% of respondents using that type of instance. Private cloud was the second most popular option, with 36% of respondents utilizing this type of instance. Finally, one-fourth of respondents said they were leveraging a third-party public cloud.

The research also focused on cloud strategy and adoption of SAP S/4HANA, two key focuses for SAP. In terms of SAP S/4HANA rollouts, many chemicals customers are well on their way to adopting the ERP solution, if they haven’t already started on completing the process. 39% of respondents said they are currently live, while 28% have started their move. Meanwhile, 24% have plans to migrate soon, and only 1% have no plans to adopt SAP S/4HANA. Many customers are considering their cloud strategy, with 31% of respondents indicating that they have a strategy in place and 51% saying they are in the early stages of their cloud strategy.

Want more insight on the chemicals industry and how SAP is catering to those customers? Register for ASUG Best Practice: SAP for Chemicals, a virtual conference on Sept. 14 and 15.

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