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IT professionals are getting ready for the onset of digital twins

While few businesses are running digital twins in production, Gartner expects two-thirds will implement the technology by 2022

Companies are slowly adopting digital twins to simulate real-world machines, a study from Gartner has reported.

The research and advisory company defines a digital twin as a software design pattern that represents a physical object with the objective of understanding the asset’s state, responding to changes, improving business operations and adding value.

In a survey of 599 organisations across China, Germany, India, Japan, the UK and the US, Gartner found that only 13% of respondents currently use digital twins. However, 62% said they were either in the process of establishing the technology or planned to do so in the next year.

This rapid growth in adoption is due to extensive marketing and education by technology suppliers, but also because digital twins are delivering business value and have become part of enterprise internet of things (IoT) and digital strategies, it said.

While digital twins are in the early stages of adoption, Gartner found that enterprises have started to adopt them to drive business outcomes, such as maintenance cost optimisation or product differentiation.

“We predict that by 2022, over two-thirds of companies that have implemented IoT will have deployed at least one digital twin in production. We might actually reach that number within a year,” said Gartner research vice-president Benoit Lheureux.

Of the companies that have implemented digital twins, the majority (87%) reported that they update digital twin data models as their physical assets and equipment evolve. According to Gartner, this shows that the intent and long-term usefulness of digital twins depends on the discipline of updating them as changes occur to their physical counterparts.

When digital twins are employed in heavy asset situations, Gartner said IT professionals should be prepared to integrate digital twins with each other, which would require strong application programming interface (API) management and other integration skills. Along with the technical knowledge required for data integration, Gartner said IT professionals might also need to tackle commercial licensing issues.

Read more about digital twins

  • Digital twins are becoming a critical component of today’s internet of things systems. However, their added complexity requires intelligent testing driven by AI and machine learning.
  • The tech sector and wider industry are coming together to create a “digital twin” of Britain to help improve the nation’s physical infrastructure.

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