The concept of a "digital triplet" is relatively new. The concept builds on the idea of a digital twin and adds a third component to the equation. While a digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical object, and a digital blueprint is a virtual representation of an enterprise architecture (EA), a digital triplet combines these two concepts with real-time data to create a more dynamic representation of an organization's operations.
A digital triplet consists of three components:
The physical object: This would be an actual, tangible thing, such as a machine, a building, or any other physical asset that is being monitored and managed.
The digital twin: This is a virtual representation of that physical object, which includes its design specifications, operational data, and maintenance history.
Real-time data: This is collected from sensor and other monitoring devices that are attached to the physical object. This data is used to update the digital twin in real time, creating a dynamic replica of the physical object’s current state.
By combining these three components, a digital triplet provides a more complete and accurate representation of an organization’s operations. This allows organizations to optimize their operations, identify potential issues before they become problems, and make more informed decisions based on real-time data.
How could digital triplets support business planning?
Digital triplets could also be used to support scenario planning and 'what-if' analysis. With the use of real-time data and the ability to update the digital twin in real-time, engineers and other professionals could use the digital twin to simulate scenarios and assess the outcomes of potential changes to their operations. This would allow them to test different designs, configurations, and operational strategies without the need for physical prototypes, saving time and reducing costs.
The digital blueprint component of the digital triplet could also provide additional context and constraints for scenario planning and 'what-if' analysis. For example, the digital blueprint could specify certain performance targets or safety requirements that need to be met, allowing engineers to evaluate the feasibility of different scenarios within those constraints.
Suppose a manufacturer wants to assess the potential impact of introducing a new product line. They could a digital triplet to simulate different production scenarios, such as changing production lines, increasing production capacity, or adjusting workforce levels. By analyzing the resulting data, they could gain insights into the potential impact of these changes on their operations, such as changing costs, lead times and quality metrics.
Though the use case for digital twins – and now triplets – is widely known in industries like manufacturing, there is significant cross-industry scope for the technology, for example in IT.
A digital triplet could be used to simulate the impact of different changes to an organization’s IT infrastructure, such as adding new applications, upgrading hardware or software, or changing network configurations.
Consider a company that wants to assess the potential impact of migrating their existing applications to a new cloud-based platform. They could use a digital triplet to simulate different migration scenarios, such as different application workloads, different network configurations or different hardware requirements. By analyzing the resulting data, they could gain insights into the potential impact of these changes on their IT operations, such as changes in response times, scalability or availability.
A digital triplet could also help organizations identify potential issues before they occur. For instance, by analyzing real-time data from the digital twin and comparing it to the historical data, organizations could identify patterns that might indicate the potential for system failures or other issues. This could allow them time to take proactive measures to prevent these issues from occurring, such as applying patches or updates to systems before they become vulnerable to attack.
So, how are digital triplets relevant to EA?
Enterprise architects (EAs) could implement digital triplets to assist in analysis and decision-making processes. EAs could shift their focus from static EA diagrams and models to a more dynamic and real-time approach, to create a more accurate and up-to-date representation of the organization’s operations.
To adjust to this shift, the roles of EAs may require a greater emphasis on collaboration and communication across different departments within the organization. They would to work closely with business leaders, IT teams, and data analysts to ensure that the digital triplet accurately reflects the organization’s goals and operations and that its insights are effectively communicated to decision-makers.
Overall, the use of digital triplets would require EAs to adopt a more dynamic and data-driven approach to their work, collaborating more closely with other stakeholders and utilizing advanced technologies to inform their recommendations and drive decision-making.
How could digital triplets support ESG initiatives?
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics are becoming increasingly important for organizations to track and report on, as stakeholders are placing greater emphasis on the impact of business operations. A digital triplet could be used to monitor and report on ESG metrics, providing organizations with data to help them make more informed decisions and improve their ESG performance.
For example, a manufacturing company may use a digital triplet to track its energy consumption, waste production, and carbon emissions in real time. The digital twin would provide a virtual representation of the manufacturing facility including its layout, equipment, and processes. The real-time data component would collect data from sensors and other monitoring devices attached to the facility's equipment and systems, providing real-time updates to the digital twin.
The EA would work with the sustainability team and other stakeholders to identify the key ESG metrics to monitor, such as energy usage, waste generation, water usage and carbon emissions. They would then configure the digital triplet to collect and analyze data on these metrics, providing real-time insights into the facility’s ESG performance.
By monitoring ESG metrics in real-time, the manufacturing company could identify areas where they can improve their sustainability performance, such as reducing energy consumption, minimizing waste, or implementing more efficient production processes. This could help the organization reduce its environmental impact, reduce costs and improve its reputation with customers and other stakeholders.
The use of digital triplets has the potential to transform operations across all industries. By providing a real-time, data-driven view of physical objects and systems, digital triplets can enable organizations to optimize performance, enhance sustainability, and identify opportunities for innovation and improvement.
The role of the EA will evolve to encompass a range of new skills and expertise, including data architecture, systems architecture, modeling and simulation, and governance and risk management. By leveraging these skills, the EA can play a critical role in designing and optimizing digital triplets to support the goals and objectives of the organization.
We are already seeing some examples of digital triplets being implemented in business, particularly in industries such as manufacturing, energy, and transportation. However, the technology is still in its early stages of adoption, and it may be several years before it becomes widespread across all industries. As the technology continues to mature and becomes more widely adopted, it has the potential to drive significant improvements in performance, sustainability, and innovation across all sectors.