FOCUS TOPIC 2019/2020

The Future(s) of the Speciality Chemicals Industry

As part of the focus topic "The Future(s) of the Specialty Chemicals Industry", Foresight is developing scenarios for the future of specialty chemicals in the year 2040.

What will shape the future of the specialty chemicals industry? What might possible future scenarios in our industry look like? For example, will we soon be working side-by-side with robots and artificial intelligence? Will there be a global circular economy? How will changes affect global consumption patterns? Which raw material sources will we use in the future? – The Foresight team is addressing these and other questions within the scope of the focus topic 2019/2020, “The Future(s) of the Specialty Chemicals Industry".

Using an explorative scenario method, Foresight develops specific and consistent images of possible futures, which can help Evonik to identify growth fields and to check the validity of its strategies.

These future scenarios are created in three steps. The team starts by identifying key factors that will significantly influence the future. For this purpose, over 100 interviews are conducted with internal and external experts from the fields of chemistry, politics, and business, followed by evaluating international futurology studies and holding numerous workshops. In a second step, the possible developments of these key factors are determined and brought into a consistent relationship. In a third step, this results in various plausible future scenarios based on a plethora of possible developments. These scenarios can then be used as the basis of strategic decisions.

Deceptive Calm

The world is changing, but rather slowly and gradually. There are no leaps – neither geopolitical, nor technological, nor ecological. Initially, this means stability, strong economic growth and business-as-usual. But this also means that the search for solutions to major global problems is being postponed ever further. After all, the negative consequences are all the more serious.

Illustration: Dave Hänggi

Susatinability Paradigm

Sustainability is becoming the guiding economic principle and driver for innovation. This happens without strong regulatory pressure, as sustainability is becoming economically attractive and technologically possible. Digital technologies, breakthroughs in biotechnology and cheap electricity from renewable sources make it possible to transform the economy into a circular bio-economy.

Illustration: Dave Hänggi

Digital Champions

Digital companies gain unbeatable advantages in knowledge, budgets and mindset. Over time, they grow so big, that they utilize those advantages to move into traditional industries and capture a substantial part of the value. They understand the customer and manage the customer interface - forcing manufacturing companies into the role of contract manufacturer. They excel in building ecosystems that satisfy the growing customer demand for solutions instead of products.

Illustration: Dave Hänggi

Turbulent Times

The globally spreading nationalism is leading to a new era of de-globalization, with global trade wars and increasing protectionism. The liberal world order is replaced by a conflict-laden multipolar order with less international solidarity. The world is getting more and more crisis-ridden. Fake News, the irresponsible spread of digital technologies and rapid automation serve as amplifiers for existing and new social problems.

Illustration: Dave Hänggi

Chinese Dream

China becomes the center of global gravity: By 2040, the country is the first self-proclaimed eco-civilization and back to the dominant role in global affairs that it held for most of history ‒ leading the world on cultural, political, economic, military and environmental protection issues. China’s long-term strategic plan “Made in China 2025” is a success: More and more Chinese companies are leaders in key technologies in the world market.

Illustration: Dave Hänggi