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Our series, Strategic Imperatives for the Chemical Industry discusses the issues that industry organizations are most concerned about going forward in 2015. Based on extensive research performed by the Eventful Group, these key issues come directly from players in the industry ranging from small blossoming organizations to the household name manufacturing giants.

In this last issue we will discuss the importance of technology and IT infrastructure as critical enabler for business success. If you missed or would like to revisit the previous entries in our series, please follow the links below.

Strategic Imperatives for the Chemical Industry – Part 1: Evolution through Digital Transformation

Strategic Imperatives for the Chemical Industry – Part 2: Mergers, Acquisitions, and Divestitures

Strategic Imperatives for the Chemical Industry – Part 3: Business Process Standardization, Automation & Optimization.

Strategic Imperatives for the Chemical Industry – Part 4: Leveraging Data to Make Informed Decisions

Strategic Imperatives for the Chemical Industry – Part 5: Increasing the Speed & Accuracy of Decision Making – Analytics & Reporting

Strategic Imperatives for the Chemical Industry – Part 6: Innovative Technologies

Strategic Imperatives for the Chemical Industry – Part 7: Total Workforce Management

Strategic Imperatives for the Chemical Industry – Part 8: Enhancing the User Experience

Technology is a business enabler and must be inexorably linked to helping the business overcome its challenges and to driving top-line growth and bottom-line profitability. The IT organization must be proactive and foresee future challenges and obstacles, and respond to them in a way that precedes the business ask by positioning the organization to achieve a competitive advantage. With a unique end-to-end, spectator like view of the organization, the IT organization often finds itself at loggerheads with the business―eager to enact change, but often struggling with being perceived as “the office of no” or as a bottleneck within the organization. Executive leadership requires transparency on project status and cost.

Equally as important as IT strategy – IT delivery is where the business value and user adoption can be won and lost and is where most companies see their greatest challenges.


Cybersecurity


Cybersecurity experts and Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) are more concerned about cybersecurity than ever before as the industry grapples with both internal and external cybersecurity threats. A key theme from the community is that “either you have been hacked” or “you unfortunately don’t know you have been hacked.” First and foremost – leaders want to ensure the life/safety integrity of their workforce, but they are also tasked by their leadership and shareholders to protect their data and IP more than ever before.


  • What are the IP best practices to ensure the security of critical data?
  • What are the best practices for intrusion detection and elimination?
  • What are the best practices for leakage detection and prevention?
  • How can chemical companies partner with federal bodies and others to combat technology threats from foreign nations?
  • What are the regulations and compliance requirements surrounding reporting and responding to breaches in cybersecurity?
  • How can organizations best recover morale and industry reputation post-breach?
  • As the industry embraces IoT and the IT/OT convergence, how can companies better understand the potential risks with shop floor integrations and with operations and production across the board?
  • Chemical companies would like a better understanding of the cyber risks and mechanisms to mitigate risks in reference to mobile solutions and as employed to BYOD initiatives
  • Multiple access points makes it difficult to manage security―what are the best hardware and software solutions to keep data/information safe to prevent the loss of IP?

Building the Business Case for IT Initiatives and Justifying the IT Organization

  • How do organizations separate IT costs from business associated costs?
  • What are the most effective business cases for investment in new technology?
  • How do organizations track and measure the effectiveness and ROI of technology investments and IT projects? What is the best mechanism to report and present?
  • How do organizations combat the business perspective of IT not being a strategic partner?

IT Contractor Management

  • What are the best practices in establishing effective SLAs and IT contracts?
  • What are the short term and long term implications of outsourcing the IT organization? When should organizations consider outsourcing? How does this differ from a centralized to a decentralized model?
  • What are the best practices for managing contractor or outsourced IT staff? What are the implications on culture and standardization across the value chain and organization when employing contract labor?

Outside SAP Satellite Systems

  • How are organizations integrating and consolidating outside SAP satellite systems?
  • Organizations are seeking an overview on how to integrate with tools like MII
  • How can companies mitigate the impact of inconsistent data in outside systems and create one version of the truth?
  • Working with third party software-as-a-service (SAAS) solutions―at a business level it makes sense to use SAAS solutions because of the third party support, but from an IT point of view these solutions often present technical challenges. What are the most common challenges and how are they combatted?

IT Delivery

  • What are the best practices in effective project execution?
  • How do organizations ensure IT projects are delivered within scope, on time and within budget?
  • Being able to respond quickly and dynamically is key in 2015 –there is an expectation that with technology advancing so quickly, that it can be delivered overnight
  • How do you develop a methodology to ensure successful delivery?
  • What are best practices for developing the most effective cost metrics?
  • Methodologies for delivery are critical and must be well understood –you must pick the right one –waterfall is not always best, and Agile doesn’t always work sometimes with a phase-gate model. What methodology is correct for specific circumstances and projects?

Are you also facing those issues above? To get answers to these, and other top industry questions, be sure to participate in our SAP Best Practices for Chemicals Conference on March 14-16, 2016 at the Woodlands Waterway, Texas.


We look forward to seeing you there!

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