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Digital investment to disrupt and drive mining, metals: survey [INFOGRAPHIC]

Investment will continue to rise as companies seek to maintain competitive position, control costs and stay viable.


TORONTO – North American metals and mining companies’ investment in digital has increased over the past three years, and will continue to rise as companies seek to disrupt traditional business models to maintain their competitive position, control costs and stay viable, according to a survey of mining executives in Canada and the US by global management consultancy Accenture.

One-quarter of mining executives surveyed said their overall digital investment in the past three years has doubled or more. Almost all companies surveyed (93%) are satisfied with their digital investment and the associated business outcomes. In the next three years, 33% will significantly increase their digital investment, 63% will increase their spending modestly, while only 5% will keep spending the same. No companies surveyed are planning to cut back on digital investments in the next three years.

Respondents says their investment in digital has almost doubled over the last three years. ©Accenture

Nine out of 10 executives surveyed said that a business strategy that incorporates digital technology will revolutionize the way they do business to a degree similar to the advent of the Internet in the 1990s, and will provide a significant source of value to the business. Companies that do not embrace digital will lose their competitive position and may face extinction, according to 88% of respondents.

“Now more than ever, North American metals and mining companies are turning to digital, a new frontier for metals and mining companies to improve operations, productivity and identify growth opportunities,” said Jose J. Suarez, managing director for mining at Accenture. “We know that mobility devices can be used to track maintenance and reliability – and provide miners with better status updates that result in faster decision-making. Also, with analytics and big data, the integration of resource modelling data and operation status can help metals and mining companies to better control operational costs.”

But there is more work to be done for digital adoption within the metals and mining sector. Some mining executives are investing in digital to gain a competitive advantage (58%), while some said they are just trying to keep pace with their competitors (42%).

Almost all mining executives surveyed (96%) are projecting an increase in their digital investment in the next three years. Three-quarters said they feel they are ahead of their peers when it comes to digital.

Currently, digital programs are driving strategic decision-making and commanding support from senior executives (83%), according to the survey. Four out of five executives surveyed are using digital technologies across IT, business operations, finance and human resources. Looking ahead to the next five years, mining executives believe digital will improve company productivity (73%), reorganize operations (65%) and optimize the supply chain (58%).

As they invest in digital technologies, metals and mining companies are hiring more digital talent (88%) and adopting new digital technologies (95%). When looking at overall company return on investment, analytics and big data are believed to hold the most potential (65%), followed by cloud (48%) and mobility (43%).