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3 Business Strategies to Combat an Evolving Industry Landscape

Troy Chapman, General Manager of Global Marketing for B2B/OEM Lubricants, delves into why companies need to take a proactive and long-term approach to industry change, and how we are helping them to rebuild resilient and productive operations.

By Troy Chapman, General Manager of Global Marketing for B2B on Jun 30, 2021

Whatever line of business you work in, you’re always somewhat at the mercy of external conditions. As a result, the most successful businesses are those that use trends and customer data to best predict how the business environment is likely to shape up over the coming months and years. Doing so gives them an advantage over competitors by allowing a proactive approach to change. However, 2020 has put this theory to the test in the most extreme way possible.

It’s difficult to interpret data and spot trends when society – never mind your industry – is in unchartered territory. Especially when the consequences of the current environment – limited workforces, tighter margins, increased output – are so severe. For our customers, the best way to emerge from this uncertainty successfully, is to protect the productivity and reliability of their operations. And so, it’s our job to help ensure this can still happen. And not just by aiding in business growth, but by ensuring this growth is built on a foundation of sustainability.

I recently came across this McKinsey report– What Now? Decisive Actions to Emerge Stronger in the Next Normal – which really nails the idea of companies having to cultivate resilience by rebuilding for the long-term. It’s definitely worth a read, but here are the top three points I took from it and why they’re so important for Shell Lubricant Solutions, as we further embrace our new evolving values and positioning as a brand:

Shell LubeAnalyst expert testing oil in lab

1. Think Of ‘The Return’ As A Muscle

As companies begin to recover from the impact of COVID-19, there are certain capabilities that need to be continually ‘exercised’ in order to ensure a consistent level of performance. ‘It’s a marathon, not a sprint’ may be a cliché, but it’s also more relevant now than ever. Positive business change requires constant improvement and companies must start planning their strategy with a long-term goal in mind, as opposed to quick fixes that may protect in the immediate but are not sustainable.

Our recent transition to Shell Lubricant Solutions was borne out of this understanding that our customers require end-to-end solutions that go beyond the initial ‘new product boost’ and can set them up for sustainable success. In practice, this approach builds on product selection by integrating the accompanying digital tools and services that can help the company to optimise performance. Whether this takes the form of the oil condition monitoring (OCM) capabilities of Shell LubeAnalyst or the virtual training programmes offered by Shell LubeCoach, it gives businesses a greater: ability to plan ahead; confidence in their equipment; and peace of mind from increased staff safety.

2. Focus on High-Impact Actions

This one may seem obvious, but it’s a good reminder to continually ask the simple question of ‘which actions would be best for the business?’ McKinsey points out that these will differ for each company. And this is key. For some, an investment in new technologies, while initially expensive, may lead to considerably greater savings down the line. While for others who are less able to invest right now, there may actually be technologies that are already in place but are perhaps not being used to their full potential.

The important thing to remember here is that ‘high impact’ doesn’t necessarily equate to ‘high cost’. To help get this message across during conversations with our own customers, we speak a lot about Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Doing so recently helped our Russian team to generate an estimated $52 million worth of savings for mining company Kazminerals, largely by identifying a number of Value Improvement Projects that can help deliver sizeable TCO reductions. Of course, this is ‘high impact’ in the sense of the savings made, but it also helps the customer to realise their potential for higher overall performance moving forward.

Two women with protective equipment an iPad at an oil plant

3. Reset technology plans

The last point that really struck me was McKinsey’s directive to ‘reset technology plans’. Having just reflected on how technology investment must be plotted against individual business standing, it’s also true that the type of technology being invested in must be fit for purpose. This means that the technology being considered must be matched with specific needs in the present, as well as prospective value in the future.

And in the current climate of ‘less hands but more work’, it’s vital that any new technologies brought in prioritise productivity and efficiency, because that is ultimately what our customers need right now. So, we make it a cornerstone of all our products and services. Whether it’s the real-time OCM provided by Shell Remote Sense or long-term digital transformation that Oren enables, the maintenance solutions we offer are designed to add as much value to our customers’ operations as possible, while making as little impact – environmentally or financially – as we can.

We’re all learning how to adapt to this New Normal or ‘Next Normal’ as McKinsey label it. But in reality, I think the term ‘normal’ perhaps undersells it. There may be little that we would have called normal a year ago that we will think of in the same way in three, five or ten-years’ time. What does need to be normalised however, is business behaviour that is: proactive rather than reactive; long-term in strategy; and resilient in nature.

To find out more about how Shell Lubricant Solutions is helping customers adapt to an evolving industry environment, visit: https://www.shell.co.uk/business-customers/lubricants-for-business.html

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