Unlocking the societal value of Digital Twin technology

Valued at approximately $4 billion already, expectations for the Digital Twin market are high.

Predicted compound annual growth rates of 30% verify these expectations, with the technology set to deliver major societal benefits. Maximising the value of this emerging technology will require any existing adoption barriers to be tackled.

Digital Twin technology presents a game changing opportunity to generate actionable insights, enabling strategic decisions that will protect and drive value. In our dedicated report, we explore the both the barriers to adoption and deployment, as well as the methods to overcoming them.

To gain an understanding of the current state of Digital Twin technology use in the built environment, the Connected Places Catapult commissioned Plan Strategic Ltd. to conduct research focused on understanding the skills required to stimulate demand for the development of Digital Twins in the built environment.

It collected insights from 50 experts who shared valuable examples from various sectors, including city services, construction, building operations and rail. Armed with this information, we were equipped to map out the key blockers of Digital Twin deployment and form key recommendations to stimulate demand and development.

Assessing the barriers

A primary barrier new users of Digital Twin technology face is unfamiliarity with digital operating models. An expert from the transport sector was anonymously quoted as saying ‘most transport companies lack the commercial framework to support on-demand, agile and scalable services.’ Compounding these widespread challenges is a lack of clear business models, with many leaders still not convinced that they should invest in the technology.

As it stands, the necessary R&D costs associated with Digital Twin technology is prohibitively high, which is part of the reason why leaders are reticent to invest. A participant in out wellbeing and mobility workshop stated that ‘airports have higher priorities to invest in, like fixing a leaking roof or extending the building.’ The reality is, successful adoption of Digital Twins also requires multi-stakeholder buy-in, adding complexity to the task of creating value at scale.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, legacy systems also present a barrier to adoption. This common transformation blocker is particularly prevalent for place-based businesses, with many of them running on outdated systems and interfacing with historical assets. Going hand in hand with this challenge is the limited availability and quality of data, which is essential to fuel Digital Twin solutions.

Stimulating demand and progress

Responding directly to the lack of understanding and action among key decision-makers, engaging leaders regarding the benefits of Digital Twins will be vital. This will call for the codification of early-adopter case studies and key learnings, and the setting up of advocate community focused on engagement. This approach can be optimised by identifying prospect organisations that stand to gain the greatest advantage from using the technology.

Building digital transformation capacity will also be essential, and this can be done by upskilling existing staff in systems related to digital transformation. This important step not only overrides the challenges presented by the technology skills gap, but also helps to foster a digital culture that is becoming crucial to competitiveness and success. Facilitating access to transformation experts and job coaching can be an effective way of accelerating this process.

Partnerships are also important to the success of Digital Twin deployments, on account of the importance of having buy-in from an ecosystem of stakeholders. Promoting partnership creation can be achieved by inviting insiders to Digital Twin training days that highlight value exchange and data sharing agreements. Using this method, you can build competency while also encouraging them to evangelise the sharing of data within their own networks.

Pursuing fresh thinking

There are well entrenched barriers standing in the way of Digital Twin demand and uptake, but the potential benefits the technology offers to people, and organisations will be transformational. But where challenges exist there is also great opportunity to modernise and adapt, particularly in terms of technical competency. At the heart of the solution is a need to drive collaboration and operational cohesion, particularly between agile groups of experimental experts and cautious business leaders.

To learn more about the exciting opportunities presented by Digital Twins, as well as the barriers to its adoption, read our full report.

Digital Twin Competency Study
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