Thursday 26th January 2023
woman holding tablet in the digital workplace

Digital twin technology is coming to a workplace near you.

Don’t believe it? Tata Consultancy Services, one of the largest information technology service providers in the world, is one of the many companies using digital twins today. In fact, the firm used it for its return-to-office strategy in the late stages of the pandemic.

“To re-open effectively, we needed to know answers to questions like how many [workers] might get infected?” said Frank Diana, principal futurist at Tata Consultancy Services, in an article for CNBC. “Who should we test, and when? What should the capacity of our quarantining facility be? … The digital twin serves as a quantitative aid to explain the current state of the environment and assist in decision-making, enabling a safe and effective return to office for our associates.”

But this is just one of the examples of digital twins that could be used to help make informed decisions about the workplace.

“A dynamic digital twin of your workplace will yield actionable data that affects everything from space planning and move coordination to lease negotiations and employee management,” reflects our sister brand, SpaceIQ by Eptura.

Digital twin adoption is real

Gartner analysts expect the market for digital twin technology to reach $183 billion in revenue by 2031. In 2019, the research firm found that 75% of companies that had implemented Internet of Things (IoT) projects were already using digital twinning in practical application.

“We see digital twin adoption in all kinds of organizations,” said Benoit Lheureux, research vice president at Gartner in a blog post. “However, manufacturers of IoT-connected products are the most progressive, as the opportunity to differentiate their product and establish new service and revenue streams is a clear business driver.”

Gartner isn’t alone. As we reported in our “2023 Workplace Predictions: 5 Worktech Trends to Watch” paper, interest in facilities optimization and more predictive analytics has resulted in increased intent to spend on digital twins, according to Verdantix. Over a third (31%) of organizations plan to invest in it over the next 12 months. Similarly, over a quarter (26%) of organizations are already using predictive analytics (including digital twins) extensively and one-fifth (20%) are using it to some limited extent.

How does a digital twin work, really? It’s more than 3D modeling. It’s the data that matters.

Born out of digital modeling, such as computer aided design (CAD) and building information modeling (BIM), digital twinning is next level business intelligence because of the ability to layer in data from different systems to gain a better understanding of what is happening or what could happen.

As data becomes more and more open to sharing within other systems, it’s not hard to imagine the role more advanced modeling like digital twinning will play. What’s more, many organizations now have some of the most powerful computational systems at the ready with cloud technologies that can be purchased as monthly subscription services. But ultimately, what a digital twin is used for goes well beyond a visual representation.

“Very often, parallels are drawn between digital twins and 3D modeling based on their user interface and visualization,” writes Pragya Sharma, in a blog post for Parametric Architecture. “However, what distinguishes them is the factor of data. While 3D modeling is limited to providing a view of an object, digital twinning provides a view and real-time data of the object. Digital twins go a step further in exploring how various environmental conditions will impact the object over a period of time.”

What a digital twin is used for and its benefits

The true value of a digital twin arrives in its application in context using data sets across industry and operational disciplines. Companies can eliminate planning and operations blind spots by making it easier to connect asset and facilities data — enabling users to explore, locate, interact with, and report on space and asset data that was previously difficult to access.

Fully integrated digital twins will allow companies to:

  • Model short-, mid-, and long-term “what if” scenarios and conditions
  • Quickly create and automate trend, threshold, and rule-based actions
  • Gain faster time to value from data-informed decisions
  • Lower asset costs from better inventory pattern recognition
  • Gain longer asset life
  • Cut down on energy usage

Within the context of smart buildings, intelligent office spaces, and digitally connected commercial real estate portfolios, digital twins will propel this industry toward more efficient and effective space planning and optimization. And it will help workplace strategists and facilities managers more easily adapt to rapidly changing economic or environmental conditions reducing risk and costs from frequent office changes and dynamic hiring patterns.

“Digital twins’ ability to provide dynamic real-world data from a virtual model connects physical and virtual environments in a feedback loop, helping everyone from designers to owners make better decisions about assets and operations,” writes Sarah Jones, Redshift editor in her blog post “In an Innovate-or-Die Era, Automation Is Good for Business and the Bottom Line.”

Ultimately, digital twins support better, faster decision making

A digital twin in an operational facility management context is a real opportunity to improve day-today operations by boosting the quality of services from fact-based decisions. Models provide visual representation. Digital twins make situations real and actionable.

“From a bird’s eye POV, arguably, the biggest takeaway from digital twin technology is the simplification of communicating complex information,” writes Dr. Jeremy Nunn, founder & director of Workmetrics in a Forbes column. “It automatically unites data from individual systems to help refine companywide processes and support decision-making in context-rich surroundings.”

And in the workplace, SpaceIQ details some key areas where digital twinning can make an impact:

  • Space management and asset management
    “[Y[ou can create a rule that stipulates floors shouldn’t exceed 90% occupancy. When the headcount reaches the 85% threshold, the digital twin can generate an alert.”
  • Lease management
    “[Y]ou could set an alert nine months before a property’s lease ends. This advanced notification creates a window of time to consolidate square footage, change your office density, or terminate the lease.
  • Move management
    “[P]lanners can collaborate and provide real-time input instead of exchanging hard-copy drawings and combining the data. You can retrieve an exact count on any floor at a glance. You can then explore different allocation options with a few keystrokes.”

Learn more about digital twins and other trends for 2023. Download “2023 Workplace Predictions: 5 Worktech Trends to Watch.”  

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