Leveraging Data for Greater Efficiency

David Johnston, Head of IS, Linde Americas
David Johnston, Head of IS, Linde Americas

David Johnston, Head of IS, Linde Americas

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing has really transformed the speed and agility with which a company such as Linde is able to respond to the challenges we face in the marketplace and unlock productivity gains through technology innovation. Where 10 or 15 years ago our focus was on traditional on-premise ERP systems, and although these have been very successful in driving business process, they lacked the speed and flexibility that we can now achieve with cloud based platforms.

Big Data 

I think many “traditional” industries have been guilty of not recognizing how much data they actually have that has the potential to drive overall business success. For example, so much data is generated at many points in our production process. Traditionally this may have been used in a limited or restricted way. When the reliability and efficiency of this directly effects a customer, who’s own operation is dependent of the security of that supply, that data can become a powerful tool to bring value directly to our customer relationship.  The power of analytics platforms today allows us to unlock this value from data that previously was held in silos.


IoT is a potential game changer for the chemical industry. The ability to increase the connectedness of all steps in our supply chain, from the production process to delivering our products, allows us to streamline our business processes, increase our reliability and transform the customer experience.

  ​The power of analytics platforms today allows us to unlock this value from data that previously was held in silos   


Linde has a very distributed network of production and distribution locations across North America, over 300 locations. Exploiting mobile solution to bring business process engagement, and collaboration tools directly into the hands of our workers in the field is transforming how our business gets done and is one of our biggest needs.

Bringing in a Change

In our sector the challenges that are driven by the increasing demands of customers for security of supply and seamless customer service. For a B2B industry, digitalization has the power to transform how we interact with our customers and execute our operations. Our customers expect to have the same customer experience when they deal with us as they would with a true “digital company”, e.g. Where is my delivery? In our supply chain we have the power to use data to increase the efficiency and reliability of our plants.

Changing Role of CIOs

Historically the CIO role was cast as a supporting player to ensure that the demands of the business were being met. It was quite transactional and we were not really leading.  As the technology has evolved, the role of technology has become more strategic. I have seen my role shift to become one where we are being asked to help really shape the business vision, as digital capabilities become increasingly central. This has also meant that pure technology knowledge is no longer enough for a CIO, they have to have a business mindset.

Unique Lessons Learned 

Prioritization is your key to success. As traditional industries we have a long “legacies” that present an almost overwhelming set of opportunities to exploit technology and digital solutions. Focus on finding those that will truly drive significant bottom line improvement and execute those relentlessly.

Don’t forget you need to keep the lights on. A prerequisite to being able to drive strategic change through digitalization is also by ensuring that the basic IT service needs of your organization are being met. This is everything from keeping the business secure to ensuring everyone has a working device that can connect.

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