The Growing Relationship Between Process Mapping and Digital Twin
Undoubtedly there is still a long way to go until the full potential of digital twin can be reached, yet already myriad industries are looking at how they too can benefit from the technology. And although it is still very much in the ‘getting to know you phase’, enterprise architecture – or more specifically process mapping – probably sense the most intuitive connection.
Its popularity is such that by 2020, Gartner estimate 50% of organizations using Internet of Things technology will also employ digital twin. Indeed, digital twin is built upon the underlying Internet of Things technology, which has, along with wireless sensors, made it possible to connect and keep a virtually indistinguishable replica of almost any real world object. Naturally, this creates new opportunities for organizations as they look to understand the nature and interrelationships of their processes.
Digital twin is therefore like enterprise architecture on steroids; it provides holistic models of the organization that evolve with real-time data. The two key features that distinguish digital twin from more traditional process models are:
- Its ability to provide an exact current state
- One-to-one mapping with its real-world equivalent
Digital twin is, in essence, a virtual mirror, which enables teams to optimize processes, reduce waste and gain efficiencies.
A Data Focused Approach to Gap Analysis
An oft used analogy for digital twin draws on a parallel with the GPS systems we use when getting from point A to B. The GPS is fed with live data that informs us of how far away our destination is, the best route to get us there, whether the services are available and if we can expect any delays. It will update as we get closer to our destination and lets us know if there are any delays up ahead. Similarly, we can plot alternate routes, see what happens if we make a detour to another destination, or compare different options. If we extend the metaphor the ‘how do we get there’ question refers to our gap analysis and attempts to convert business initiatives into outcomes.
Representing and managing processes in a holistic fashion has typically been an extremely complex and difficult challenge, but digital twin addresses the entire organization, treating it as a living, breathing entity. It connects processes, applications, and resources to a model of market interactions, representing how the business’s internal operations interface with its external customers and stakeholders.
Over the next few years, it is likely traditional modeling solutions for most forward-thinking organizations will undergo an evolution in how they are used. They will be complemented by a data driven approach, using reports in conjunction with models for decision making. The discussion will be around landscapes, ecosystems and customer journey maps and as the enterprise looks to contextualize its transformation.
By operating as a holistic model digital twin also incorporates any external information we need to be aware of, allowing us to respond and adapt to changes with comparative ease. If there is a roadblock up ahead, we can plot alternate routes – indeed most organizations will exploit the technology to run impact analysis and plan several viable alternatives ahead of time. As changes are made to the processes in real life, the model will update itself; it can be used to refine scope, risk, and impact during program and project execution.
Ultimately, digital twin offers the potential for a data focused approach to gap analysis and it is this aspect which is drawing the attention of process modelers. If its potential is correctly harnessed all moving parts of the enterprise can be aligned and orchestrated, reducing risk of failure and infusing agility to the organization. Thus, when undergoing enterprise-wide transformation, digital twin ensures changes in processes no longer bring fear or uncertainty, but opportunity and understanding.