Digital twins will be a driving force for innovation

Digital twins will be a driving force for innovation
February 28, 2023  |  BY

When you hear about the concept of “digital twins”, you might think it refers to a sci-fi film based on a dystopian world a few hundreds years in the future. That sounds interesting – but what’s more fascinating is the actual definition of digital twins: “A digital twin is a virtual model designed to accurately reflect a physical object.”

Digital twins are used for simulations, testing, monitoring, and maintenance, and they’ve existed since the early part of this century. But major adoption hasn’t occurred until recently. Now we’re seeing digital twins used by specific industries to overcome their distinct problems; digital twins also help with general decision making. The technology has evolved in the same manner as artificial intelligence, progressively shifting from broad applications to an essential best practice.

This is because as digital twins provide more contextualized insights, companies gain a better understanding of their products, processes, and systems. In turn, they become empowered to explore new products, services, even business models. In fact, some technology experts believe that digital twins will eventually be fundamental for operating most of the critical aspects of any organization.

To be more specific, enterprises are using virtual product development twins to accelerate design and development cycles. In this case, digital twins take current product development models and enhance them with relevant data. At the same time, digital twins are replacing data-driven models that inform business strategy. The truth is that legacy strategic platforms can’t account for deviations and disruptions, which have unfortunately become an everyday issue since the pandemic of 2020.

Digital twins aren’t only effective in improving business decisions. Their application extends to the life sciences, where they’re being used to replicate human organs – this allows scientists to develop new approaches for medical research. In another example, pharmaceutical companies can use digital twins to test new drugs without performing animal testing.

Digital twins are also fostering the potential of smart city initiatives. In Los Angeles, this technology is being used to assess transportation movement and activity including ride sharing. The city government can then improve their plans for building roads and the overall mobility infrastructure.

In a related development, digital twins can also help with environmental projects. By leveraging weather, travel, and physical infrastructure data, organizations are able to perform an accurate analysis of scenario-based environmental conditions. Government agencies and non-profits can then apply these insights into the physical risks associated with hurricanes, major storms, and other natural disasters.

As you can see, digital twins have many uses cases, which is why forecasts for 2023 see them being adopted across almost all the major industries. Beyond their objective technical capabilities, digital twins provide much needed accuracy and predictability in the post-Covid era of uncertainty. If the business world learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that the nature of work and commerce can literally change within a matter of days. Digital twins provide an essential tool for preparing for the next upheaval in the global market.

Like all nascent technology, digital twins have become more popular as organizations realize measurable benefits from implementing them. The naysayers are beginning to see the light and adopt them as well. And as digital twins increasingly become a mainstream technical solution, experts foresee the coming of hyper-personalization, where digital twins will be used for more precise customization of products, services, and personal experiences.

Others predict that we will see more dynamic supply chains via the aid of digital twins. The thinking is that as companies increasingly use digital twins for critical assets and processes, executives will also use them to simulate their supply chains and assess how they can improve. This will lead to better optimization and automation, which is vital in light of the static and linear supply chains that ground to a halt during the global pandemic.

But that’s all in the future. Today, IT professionals can use digital twins to create equivalents of assets in order to replicate potential business scenarios. And in turn, digital twins become a foundation of how companies innovate products, systems, and services. This isn’t science fiction – this is happening right now.