Olympic Skiing, Chemical Industry, and Digital Transformation…

You might wonder what these three things have in common? Simple answer: a lot. Let’s start with some of the greatest Olympic skiers throughout the years. Without telling my age, there was the Frenchman Jean-Claude Killy back from the late 60s; the flamboyant Italian Alberto Tomba in the late 80s and early 90s; Herman Maier of Austria; and most recently Bode Miller from the US. Not to be outdone, there were the female champions Janica Kostelic of Croatia; Debra Compagnoni of Italy; and most recently Lindsey Vonn from the US. Each one of these athletes helped transform this Olympic sport to the elite competition we watch today.

Their transformation of the sport challenged the status quo of what is possible in their equipment, skiing techniques, team training methods, and the competitive edge required to be the best. The same is true of the transformative role that chemistry and the chemical companies played behind the scenes.

The chemical industry’s footprint can be found throughout this sport.It is encapsulated into the polymers of the skis to be optimized for the downhill stress. The industry in involved in the wax coatings on the skis to minimize the resistance between skier and snow. The new plastics and resins, incorporated into the latest boots, are made to provide the optimum flex and correct pivot rotation of the knee. There is also the coating, dyes and synthetics that go into the apparel for streamlined air resistance, freedom of movement and while degrees of warmth to protect from those cold temperatures. I am positive there is a litany of other examples of how the chemical industry has helped fine tune this sport.

The transformation, fine tuning and achievement of new performance levels that is happening in the sport of skiing is also happening within the chemical industry. Digital transformation of the supply chain is the topic of mind for many in the CXO suite these days. Like the skiing champions, it is a journey for the chemical company. It does not simply happen overnight.

It involves team work across the organization and its trading partners of customers, suppliers and logistics providers. Transforming business processes of how we buy and sell and move our products through the chemical supply chain has tremendous rewards of improved earnings, optimized working capital, revenue growth (through enhanced customer service), and overall cost efficiencies. With all the news of the benefits of digitization reaching the boardrooms, few companies know where the starting gate is.

For those organizations that buy, sell, make, or move chemicals, the starting gate begins with connection of their trading partners into a common transformative business ecosystem. For the chemical industry, the industry counts on Elemica. This company was founded as a chemical industry consortium, helping make chemical companies better for over 15 years, and has been boosting the growth of industry participants with its domain expertise and industry knowledge ever since.

To transform the chemical supply chain, the next step after connecting the partners is to automate the processes and identify opportunities for improvement. Remember, your supply chain operates outside your organization. To identify, see, and mitigate risk one needs to be able to anticipate what is occurring outside the organization using visibility and predictive solutions for improvement. It is only then that we can really start to look to transform our supply chains.

Like our Olympians, transformation of the chemical industry supply chain is not a thing we can buy, nor is it a destination. Digital transformation is a journey of continuous improvement starting with connecting, followed by automating, and anticipating using advanced analytics with the trading partner constituents. Only then can true transformation happen. Luckily for the chemical industry and future Olympians, Elemica is there to enable the digital transformation process with continual innovation for the sport of skiing.