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April 24, 2018
ConferenceShipbuildingTechnology

Two weeks ago, I attended COFES (Congress On the Future of Engineering Software) which is one of the conferences I look forward to. I have written about my previous experiences several times.

This COFES was similar to others but slightly different. In the first several I found the discussions revolving around technology and not much about why our respective industries would leverage the new and shiny technology. This time at COFES there seemed to be more discussion about the business of technology with includes the needs of businesses as well as the people factor.

I am still digesting some of the great conversations, but I thought I would discuss one idea in particular which has taken a significant amount of brain power the last few weeks.

It revolves around the digital twin and why it is different than what we had before as well as why should businesses care.


Digital Twin

There are many great posts and videos explaining what the digital twin is, so I will not get into explaining it. I have also written about the digital twin. Click here if you are interested.

There still is no consensus on exactly what the digital twin is which is not any different than virtually any other concept in technology. I always start wondering what is the benefit of actually spending time on trying to come to a consensus. It would be similar for us to try to come to a consensus on what friendship is. Everyone has their own interpretation of what friendship means to them and it is fine. We still have the general idea what friendship is which is usually all that is needed.


Why is the Digital Twin important? My Opinion

The reality is that the digital twin has been around for a long time and many of the things that it embodies have existed in other concepts we have had over the years. In other words, it is not new so why is it important now?

The reason is, there is so much potential in available technology which all needs our information in a digital format with intelligent connections. More importantly that information needs to be available to all aspects of business.

Before the digital twin you had several initiatives from businesses to “digitize” information. Each of these initiatives in essence existed in their own silos. That means work from one team could not be leveraged from other teams and similar problems were solved several times and differently, all of which resulted in an extremely complicated and fragile enterprise architecture.

The reason I think the digital twin is important is because it provides a business with a single ideology that creates a unified conceptual platform (not software platform) which aligns business goals and allows them to build on top of it.

With a unified goal to create, expand and leverage a company’s digital twin, there is a united push throughout the organization to build on the company’s digital twin. Thus, every initiative will start with:

How can we leverage what is in the digital twin already or add to it to achieve our goals?

Answering that question will better enable a company to focus on how they are attaining their business goals. It will still require discipline and ruthless prioritization; however, it does help them create guidelines for the team to follow.

With whatever platform (not a software platform per-se) the company chooses they will also be able to achieve new levels of value to their customers which is often articulated as one of the benefits of digital twins. With more information and its easy availability there is value we can now extract that we simply could not provide before. This is one of the key aspects of IoT.

As mentioned, all innovation and future technology will require us to have our information digitally and intelligently connected. By having a digital twin strategy, you will be resilient and be able to handle whatever the unexpected future has to offer.


Digital Twins is different for different people

I think it is also important to mention that I do believe each company’s digital twin will be different. In other words, there is no single digital twin that will work for every company even if they are building the same widget.


Closing Remarks

After attending COFES I can always expect it to incubate some simple thoughts that can have a significant impact on the way that I think of a problem.

In this case it was around the digital twin and why is it truly different and important to businesses today. In my current opinion it is more about unifying a business on a single concept which will allow all their initiatives to move in the same direction as well as creating a conceptual platform to be leveraged for additional value and business opportunities.

I would love to here your thoughts if you agree and especially if you disagree.

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