The Digital Twin Effect: Four Ways It Can Revitalize Your Business

Thomas Ohnemus

Part 1 of the “Network of Digital Twins” series

Picture two versions of your company: the before and the after.

The before looked like this:

You lacked the necessary data to make informed decisions. Your business processes were slow and inefficient. Collaboration was a struggle. And the idea of creating new business models seemed far-fetched.

Then, there’s the after:

Greater data access has made decision-making a cinch. You’ve automated your business processes. Working together with internal colleagues, external partners, and even customers is suddenly effortless. And you’re regularly discovering new ways to innovate your business and turn a profit.

What’s spurred this amazing turnaround? It was the digital twin effect.

Four game-changing benefits your company can realize with digital twins

Today, enterprises across the globe are embracing digital twins to revitalize their businesses. By 2021, half the world’s large industrial companies will rely on this innovative technology to gain additional insight around their products, assets, processes, operations, and more.

Here are four specific ways digital twins can benefit your enterprise:

1. Enable data-driven decision-making

Creating a digital twin involves building a comprehensive digital representation of the many components of a physical object, from outer features to the software inside. Companies develop digital twins by attaching Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to their products, assets, or equipment.

Building digital twins will give you digitalized versions of bills of materials, 2D drawings, and 3D models. More importantly, you’ll have an accurate view of how your devices are operating in real time.

This data empowers you to make better decisions. If your manufacturing equipment is lagging, you can fix or upgrade the machinery before it impacts your company’s efficiency. If a product is underperforming, you can make improvements so future releases don’t have similar issues.

With real-time data at your disposal, you can eliminate guesswork from the most important decisions your business has to make.

2. Automate business processes

On top of providing greater connectivity between your company and its products, digital twins help your enterprise better connect with its business processes.

Real-time data makes it possible for you to spot and put an end to business-process inefficiencies. By combining real-time data with historical data and machine learning capabilities in a digital twin allows you to predict problems and automatically resolve them.

To the naked eye, an asset may be operating as expected. Inside the machine, however, it’s another story. A glitch in the system is causing your asset to gradually slow down. Five days from now, it’ll fail completely.

Without the right technology, you’d never know that. But digital twins help you anticipate issues and prevent problems before they even occur. They enable you to detect anomalies and automate repair processes at the first sign of weakness. And by coming to your asset’s rescue sooner rather than later, you can avoid serious service interruption or prolonged downtime.

3. Increase collaboration

IoT keeps data flowing. Digital twins allow you to access this wealth of data in real time. But you don’t have to keep all that data to yourself. In fact, you’d be wise to share it.

Creating a digital twin network makes it easy to share data with internal colleagues, external supply chain partners, and even customers. With access to the same insight, you, your partners, and your customers can collaboratively improve products, processes, and more.

Sharing digital-twin data with multiple internal departments ensures everyone’s always on the same page. Your R&D, finance, marketing, and sales teams – groups that typically work in silos – can collaborate to ensure your new product is properly designed, accurately priced, sufficiently promoted, and commercially viable.

Supply chain partners benefit from a network of digital twins with enhanced visibility. If an asset malfunctions, your maintenance provider knows it needs to mobilize a team to fix the equipment. If your company manufactures a product ahead of schedule, your logistics provider knows it can pick up the goods and deliver them early.

Finally, digital twin networks help you glean invaluable insight from your customers. By monitoring how customers interact with your goods, you can remove underused features from future product iterations or develop new products that highlight popular features.

Enabling an open, collaborative environment through a network of digital twins offers you the chance to transform engineering, operations, and everything else in between.

4. Create new business models

No enterprise is immune to industry-altering disruption. That’s why companies must constantly look for new ways to reimagine existing business models and generate revenue.

Digital twins present an opportunity to do both.

Say you manufacture compressed air supply systems. In addition to selling your equipment and installing it at your customer’s site, you offer to maintain it throughout the asset lifecycle and charge fees based on air consumption rather than a fixed rate.

With a digital twin network you share with your customer, you can monitor the condition of your asset around the clock and accurately track how much air your customer consumes. This reliable and transparent method ensures you’re always standing by to repair the asset, if necessary, and charging the proper amount of money each billing cycle.

Thinking outside the box and exploring innovative as-a-service business models is a surefire way to remain profitable in today’s ever-evolving digital world.

Alter your business for the better

Digital twins can boost enterprise-wide effectiveness by a full 10%. So there really is a noticeable difference between a business before digital twins and a business after digital twins.

When your company can easily enable data-driven decision-making, automate business processes, increase collaboration, and create new business models, you’ll hardly recognize the old you.

To learn more about the Network of Digital Twins, register to read the Infobrief by IDC.

Thomas Ohnemus

About Thomas Ohnemus

Thomas Ohnemus is the Vice President, Solution Marketing, Customer Value Office, at SAP. He is responsible for driving the go-to-market strategy, messaging, and demand generation. Thomas has over 25 years’ experience in business software solutions and his PLM expertise has awarded him key management positions in consulting, product management, service, and global marketing. He holds a master’s degree in engineering, and lives in Germany.