Building materials producers should adapt their strategies and capabilities now before the full effects of the digital revolution alter the industry landscape. The first producers to adopt a digitally enabled direct-distribution model will gain major competitive advantages.
In order to capture these emerging opportunities, building materials producers will need to embrace five interrelated imperatives.
Top management must be involved in defining the overall digital ambition and tracking the company’s progress toward achieving it. The CEO should approve the digital roadmap that guides the organization’s initiatives, and he or she should communicate regularly, through vehicles such as a monthly newsletter and investor presentations, about the importance of digital opportunities.
To encourage risk-taking and to create independence from country organizations and business units, producers need to establish a center of excellence (COE) to define the digital strategy and manage the digital transformation. The COE should have its own budget and the authority to centrally coordinate digital initiatives pursued at the country and business-unit levels.
Agility is essential in pursuing innovation opportunities. The company culture must encourage innovation throughout the entire organization so it can launch new ideas and respond quickly and effectively to competitors’ moves. The company should search for innovative opportunities continuously, and it should be open to collaborating with start-ups, universities, and venture capital firms.
To capture competitive advantages, producers will need to bring their digital ideas to the marketplace effectively. Leading building-materials companies have already established practices that can serve as inspiration for other companies seeking to raise their game in digitally enabled distribution. These practices take advantage of advances in cloud-based analytics, augmented reality, and tracking technology.
Tracking the company’s progress toward achieving its digital goals is essential for determining the return on investments and continuously improving initiatives. Stakeholders in marketing, sales, and IT should agree on a holistic set of digital key performance indicators linked to broader business goals, such as the growth of sales and profits.