Digital twin has been around since 2002, and with the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), digital twins are becoming more cost effective to implement as they are being implemented at a faster pace in IoT’s business and other areas in the digital transformation and innovation.
The term Digital Twin really took off after Gartner named digital twins as one of its top 10 strategic technology trends for 2017 , saying that within three to five years, “billions of things will be represented by digital twins, a dynamic software model of a physical thing or system". Again a year later, Gartner named digital twins as a top trend, saying that “with an estimated 21 billion connected sensors and endpoints by 2020, digital twins will exist for billions of things in the near future."
Digital Twin is a digital representation of a product, service, or a process. This combination of physical and virtual worlds allows large amounts of data from the physical world to be sent to its virtual twin for data analysis and to help monitor for problems, prevent downtime, develop new opportunities, and also allows to plan for the future by simulations. They cover the entire life cycle of a product, service, or process.
Digital twins can be used to monitor and predict different outcomes based on variable data. With additional software and data analytics, digital twins can optimize an IoT deployment for maximum efficiency, as well as help designers figure out where things should go or how they operate before they are physically deployed.
John Vickers, NASA’s leading manufacturing expert and manager of NASA’s National Center for Advanced Manufacturing, said in an interview with Forbes, “the ultimate vision for the digital twin is to create, test and build our equipment in a virtual environment. Only when we get it to where it performs to our requirements do we physically manufacture it. We then want that physical build to tie back to its digital twin through sensors so that the digital twin contains all the information that we could have by inspecting the physical build.”
Digital twin technology will be a tremendous help to companies to improve their customer experience by a deep understanding of customer needs, developing enhancements to the existing products, processes, and services, and can help drive the innovation of creating new business models.
Implementing digital twins in factories, hospitals or commercial real estate buildings, offers the potential to create beneficial outcomes for administrators, owners, and for the people inside of those buildings. Digital twins can use design thinking methodology that takes people-centric approach (starting with the customer) then looking at problems and context, and finally adding technology and connected devices to try to solve big problems and create long-term value.
“For every physical asset in the world, we have a virtual copy running in the cloud that gets richer with every second of operational data,” says Ganesh Bell, chief digital officer and general manager of Software & Analytics at GE Power & Water.
Companies and organizations that are already using IoT, digital twins are ahead of the game and are in the next step along their digital journey. As we have seen, digital twins can be used to improve efficiencies, optimize processes, detect problems before they occur, and innovate for the future. So if your organization is ready to produce better business outcomes for everyone, digital twins are going to be the best road to success.
Looking at the trends and the companies that are transforming their business to digital, we see that we are on the cusp of a digital twin technology explosion. As more and more businesses see and learn of real-world and pilot program success stories, they would want to deploy their very own digital twins to gain a competitive advantage. Companies that fail to respond will be left behind.
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