The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on nearly every industry, but Deloitte’s new 2021 Chemical Industry Outlook suggests the chemical industry will see monumental changes as a result

While much of the report talks about an economic recovery in the face of growing consumer and political awareness around sustainability, it does mention the affect these changes will have on the R&D structure of chemical organizations. The report states:

Between September 2019 and September 2020, the US chemical industry experienced 14,500 job cuts, representing 2% of the entire workforce. During this period, the industry lost 32,100 production jobs, but added 17,600 nonproduction jobs, including researchers and scientists. There is a growing demand for employees with R&D experience, such as scientists and engineers, and in areas that help drive sustainability. The share of jobs with analytical, information technology, and technical competencies is expected to continue to grow in 2021.

What could strategic initiatives look like for chem R&D?  

The Deloitte report says the digitalization of core business processes is already playing a role in how chemical employees do their jobs today and has been ramped up thanks in part to remote work playing a key role in many organizations in 2020. 

For R&D leaders, digitizing core processes means an emphasized focus on efficient research practices that can save the company time and make spending more strategic. There are several ways R&D organizations can modernize processes that benefit employees, whether working in a remote setting or in a laboratory. Consider the following ways R&D organizations can enhance their strategies: 

Streamlining Access to Scientific Literature  

According to the latest research from Outsell, the rate of work-related content sharing has tripled since 2016. And in 2020, 34% of respondents working remotely reported an increase in the frequency of sharing content during the pandemic. 

Without fast, secure access to vital published content, R&D employees cannot do their jobs effectively, which can slow the pace of innovation. From chemists to regulatory managers to competitive intelligence, many different areas of the enterprise rely on scientific literature, and without a streamlined approach to access and manage STM information, the result is often inconsistent content acquisition practices, inefficient spending, and misalignment around larger company initiatives.

Creating Collaborative Spaces to Address Connectivity Challenges  

Researchers need to communicate with team members across geographic and departmental lines. Without a collaborative tool in place, employees often store content on their individual hard drives, making it impossible to organize shared informationAnd with most employees working remotely, walking over to another person’s desk to ask where a certain report or regulatory submission lives is less feasible. 

In a modern chemical organization, employees should be able to set up shared library spaces where appropriate team members have access to the same information and can add comments, annotations, and ratings to documents. 

Unifying Data Sources for Smarter Information Discovery 

R&D teams need to discover relevant information across a spectrum of sources without having to do the same search over and over. FAIR data – findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable – is centered around this concept. 

A search experience that unifies multiple data sources can help. Whether searching for funding grants, patents, competitive intelligence information, internal documents, or scientific literature, an ideal strategy would include an open, scalable solution that breaks down inefficiencies caused by information silos. 

Sound interesting? Check out RightFind Navigate

Placing Emphasis on Copyright Compliance  

Despite efforts to educate employees about copyright, according to Outsell’s 2020 research, 47% surveyed are either unaware of their organization’s copyright policies or unsure of its details

Combined with the fact that employees are sharing more information in a remote setting, a renewed emphasis on copyright compliance is critical.  By taking steps to balance employee reuse of published content with a strong compliance and licensing program, chemical companies can leverage today’s rise in content sharing to help support collaboration and drive innovation.

For a look at how one organization is handling copyright while managing a remote workforce, check out this blog post from John Zevitas of T. Rowe Price. 


Did you know?  RightFind Enterprise streamlines access to scientific literature, makes copyright-compliance easier, and improves research efficiency to power innovation. By consolidating multiple workflows and information management tools into an integrated and scalable solution, demonstrating content ROI in minutes has never been easier. Learn more about RightFind for Chemical Companies.


Author: Keri Mattaliano

Keri Mattaliano is a Director of Corporate Solutions for the RightFind Suite in CCC’s Corporate Business Unit. Keri develops go-to-market strategies, conducts market research and competitive analysis, creates customer personas, and develops product positioning and sales training and tools to drive demand for our products. Keri started with CCC in 2011 and has had roles in customer service, account management and client engagement, including managing the client services team in Cologne, Germany in 2014 & 2015. According to the Master’s degree from Rutgers University that her dad framed, she is a librarian, however, she has never worked in a library.
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