‘Twinning’ to stay ahead

Making better data based decisions

The COVID-19 pandemic is set to alter the course of many business practices, across various industries from tourism and services to transportation. Understanding consumer and employee behaviours as well as the impact of operating model design, could help improve situational awareness. Businesses will need to determine how to alter and test their business design processes to ensure that health, operational and finance metrics are available across the enterprise. One of the ways in which business can discover, test, learn and make better data based decisions is by using a digital twin.

Defining the digital twin

The digital twin is a virtual replica of a physical product, process or system, used to simulate the behaviour of the physical counterpart under a variety of scenarios. It can be built to represent a small system such as the scheduling of deliveries, or it could model the more complex interactions across a wider logistics network. Digital twins differ from AI based solutions in that they are typically based on physics based models of the system under consideration and do not rely on large historic datasets to be useful. Because of this, they are well suited to modelling the future behaviour of the physical world under a variety of scenarios. In this way, businesses can make predictions and optimise their processes or systems before investing in physical prototypes and assets.

Driven by easier and cost effective access to data and combined with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms, digital twins have the potential to be transformative.

Our recent Deloitte Tech Trends Report 20201 outlined how the digital twin concept is poised to transform the way companies function, driven by advanced tools that enable integration and access to immediate data. The digital twin market, prior to COVID-19, was estimated at US$3.8 billion in 2019, and projected to reach US$35.8 billion in value by 2025, the largest investments coming in from industries such as healthcare, aerospace and defence as well as automotive and transportation.2

Experimenting within a digital space, help tackle the cost and speed of innovation

A digital twin can offer an efficient, non-intrusive way to gather data, predict, test and view in real-time, the impact of multiple options from strategic to real time operational decisions. It can help evaluate and make recommendations on how to structure and implement change across business areas, such as workforce management, automation, customer experience and operational bottlenecks, etc. In situations where there is no precedent (and little valid data), digital twins become essential as economies begin to transition and reopen following the COVID-19 lockdown.

Multiple applications in the travel, services and leisure sectors

Businesses in a post COVID-19 world will require adapted and new processes or models to cope with a changed world. This will include activities around how to offer a safe environment, rebuild trust, recover lost revenue and implement social distancing measures for both customers and staff.

Time to tackle the twin

Building a digital twin of the system that drives business objectives, will help test out multiple configurations and strategies without affecting the day to day operations of the business or committing to multi-year change programmes. The risks inherent in implementing change can be drastically reduced, whilst the potential upside can be maximised. What may start out as an improvement exercise could result in the deployment of complex optimisation algorithms, across business to help with dynamic scheduling, pricing and delivery.

Seventy five percent of organisations implementing Internet of Things (IoT) technology, already use a digital twin or plan to within a year, according to an IoT implementation survey in 2019.3 As adoption accelerates, more organisations may explore opportunities to use a digital twin to optimise processes, make data-driven decision as well as design new products, services, and business models. Given the unpredictability of the current business environment, accelerated by COVID-19, the ability to stress-test the business against unexpected and immediate constraints can add valuable resilience and confidence to move forward.


1. Deloitte Insights - Tech trends report 2020

2. MarketsandMarkets - “Digital twin market worth $35.8 billion by 2025.” Article dated 22 Jan 2020

3. Gartner - IoT implementation survey 2019

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