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What Are Digital Twins

Living in an era of disruptive innovation and ever-complex digital technologies, it is all too easy to focus on technologies that occupy the headlines of our favorite blogs or magazines. Technologies like artificial intelligence and cryptocurrencies take up a significant amount of oxygen in the media landscape. While these technologies do promise to significantly change our lives, they tend to overshadow other technologies and trends that are already revolutionizing life today such as Digital Twin (or also announced “Digital Twins”).

One of those trends is centered on digital twin technology.

Digital twin is a simple idea on the surface, but it represents a massive shift in the way that we work and play. Ultimately, by understanding what digital twin is and where it is likely headed, you can capitalize on this mega-trend in your professional life.

The Current State of Digital Twin in the Digital Revolution

If this is the first time that you have heard of digital twin, you can think of it as a digital replica of a living or non-living physical entity. Originally coined by Dr. Michael Grieves in 2002, digital twins technology is essentially a bridge between the physical and the digital world.

Digital twin connects the digital and real-world through the use of real-time data from installed Internet of Things sensors on an object in the world. Once the data is collected, it is either stored in the cloud or locally decentralized. From there, that data is evaluated and simulated in a virtual copy of the asset, with the data from that simulation being incorporated back into the actual asset in the real world. Ultimately, this process of integrating data in both real and virtual representations significantly optimizes the performance of those real assets in the field. While this technology is most naturally used in sectors like manufacturing, it can also be useful in the construction, automotive, utilities, and healthcare industries.

Digital twin technology is already being used by some of the largest companies in corporate America today. For example, you can use digital twin to bring augmented reality into asset management. Digital twins of human organs have allowed surgeons to practice certain procedures in a simulated environment, significantly reducing risks for patients. This technology has even been used to refine Formula One car racing.

While this technology is already being used by large and small companies alike, there is the question of particular success factors and overall strategy for using digital twins technology. Ultimately, as with many game-changing technologies, companies should not use it simply for the sake of using it. Digital twin technology should be used to accomplish some overarching goal, whether that is improving the ongoing operations of your company, training employees, or testing products before they are released to the market. While you and your company will also likely create key performance indicators or metrics of success for this technology, some potential success factors include minimizing waste, becoming more efficient, and better serving your firm’s customers. Digital twin technology helps companies of all shapes and sizes embrace prototyping and experimentation, so your company should leverage this iterative approach to create better business outcomes for your employees and customers.

As for the future of this technology, experts believe that this technology will continue to skyrocket among different enterprises. According to Deloitte, the worldwide market for digital twin technologies is expected to reach $16 billion in four years. IDC projects that approximately 70 percent of manufacturers will use digital twins technology to organize simulation and scenario evaluations, which will consequently reduce equipment failures by around 30 percent. These increases in efficiency will undoubtedly reduce costs and increase manufacturers’ bottom lines. While it is difficult to project how this disruptive technology itself will improve in the near future, it is safe to say that it will become faster, offer more comprehensive data, and will offer even more help to companies looking to prototype and experiment.

A Game-Changing Technology

This technology is an underrated, yet significant technology in our world today. There are many potential applications and we are only getting started. Regardless of the size or sector of your employer, it is critical to monitor the advancement of this technology. Who knows? You may be able to leverage digital twins technology in new, innovative, and profitable ways.