Are you acting on your Data, in Real Time? The Chemical Industry and Business Intelligence

By: | Category: Distribution / Manufacturing

For the Chemical Industry or any enterprise, utilizing Business Intelligence (BI) offers a way to translate the millions of data points from operations into insights that can help leaders manage and grow the business. The whole BI domain encompasses a wide range of applications, tools, and methodologies. They enable organizations to collect data from both internal and external sources; systemize them for analysis; develop and run questions and answers in regards to that data; and then write up reports, build data visualizations and dashboards to make the analytical results relevant and available. This way corporate decision-makers and staff can make highly informed decisions, rather than following conventional wisdom and practices.

The key difference between analytics and BI is that the former has predictive capabilities, whereas the latter has traditionally been based on providing analysis of historical data.

According to McKinsey, “Advanced analytics can substantially raise the level of understanding of what happens in a chemical plants manufacturing operations; this can help chemical companies solve previously impenetrable problems and reveal those that they never knew existed, such as hidden bottlenecks or unprofitable production lines.

If this all sounds great, but a little overwhelming, you’re not alone. Companies in many industries, including Chemical Manufacturing and Distribution, struggle to get a clear picture of their operations and to use that information to drive decisions. So let’s focus the first step, the underpinning of data-driven decisions – the data.

Integrating data is critical in the life of a chemical company

The foundation of both BI and analytics is great data management. Every company, including one in the chemical industry, requires a single core that monitors and maintains REAL knowledge and insights about customers, suppliers, and solutions. These insights are what supports ‘smart’ decision-making. Working from a common data set and an integrated workplace, plants will run smoothly, make quicker decisions that are better-informed across the entire range of a chemical company’s business processes.

To make decisions in real-time, with short decision cycles means business leaders must have continual access to comprehensive data. That translates to enabling business leaders to quickly turn those decisions into action. With an robust ERP system, a holistic view of a business’s operations is available. Add this with business intelligence tools, decision making is faster more efficient.

Types of insights and decisions include:

  • Identifying of top-producing products and customers
  • Forecasting demand and demand cycles
  • Guide pricing decisions
  • Maximizing margins
  • Enabling innovation
  • Reducing financing costs
  • Estimation of cash flow
  • Transforming operational data into useful insights
  • Anticipation of physical plant and other capital investment requirements
  • Anticipation and planning for changing IT requirements from technology advances and regulatory changes
  • Identifying customer payment trends, set alerts for increases in receivables days outstanding to correct small problems while they are still small

Integrated systems are the best friends of chemical manufacturers and distributors – occurring when ERP, CRM, and supply chain processes are allowed to operate in unison. And because that integration forces companies to reconcile their data from various sources, the foundation for true data-driven decision-making is possible, presenting great opportunities for optimal company performance.

Chemical manufacturers that are able to mobilize their organizations to embrace this approach—continually applying and learning from advanced analytics, reactor by reactor, process by process, and plant by plant—will be able to achieve new breakthroughs in productivity and profitability.” – McKinsey & Company