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If you still believe that digital transformation is a thing that happens in Silicon Valley, you need an upgrade of your world view. I had the great opportunity to discuss digital transformation with Mike Stoko of DuPont, Mike Orr from Murphy Oil and Gary Hayes from CenterPoint Energy. It didn’t surprise me that smarter, safer, and more efficient management of production assets and machinery is a big digital theme in the “stovepipe industries” Utilities, Oil & Gas, and Chemicals.

But what changed my perspective: CenterPoint Energy and DuPont use digital technology to re-imagine their relationship and collaboration with their business customers and consumers. Energy is becoming a branded consumer product with a world of services and offerings around it. The power grid is evolving into an “plug-and-play internet of energy” with large and small energy producers and consumers. DuPont targets 500 million (this is not a typo!) family owned farms around the globe with products plus digital services around weather, crops, and soil to optimize yield and minimize the environmental impact to ensure healthy and sufficient food for the world.

This transformation is driven by digital technology that connects suppliers, customers, the workforce, assets and the Internet of Things to a digital real-time core. We see new levels of collaboration along outcome-oriented value chains. Industry boundaries are blurring, best and new practices will be used in new, innovative digital contexts. And it’s our role as SAP to facilitate this transformation with the right digital solutions that our customers “need to play and need to win” as Mike Orr puts it. And the systems needed to win are often at the edge of the enterprise where the rapid change is happening, four times faster than in the core estimates Michael Stoko.

The enterprises in the Energy and Natural Resources industries have long been almost invisible giants who provided the foundation for mature and emerging economies and societies around the globe. Now they use digital technology to engage with the consumers, changing the role and the perception of those foundational energy and chemical commodities to highly differentiated branded products and services. I’m proud that we at SAP are playing a role as facilitators of this transformation.

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