According to a study conducted by the msg Group in 2020, almost nine out of ten companies have already developed concepts for using a digital twin. However, only one-third are planning to change an existing business model using this innovative approach. This is precisely where great potential hides that is often unexploited in practice. In 2017, this was identified by leading market research institute Gartner, which listed the digital twin as one of the ten major strategic technology trends. But what exactly is a digital twin?

Digital twins represent tangible and intangible objects or processes in digital form. This creates a digital image of a previously analog company. With this in mind, it makes sense to look not only at the purely organizational process organization including assigned roles in the form of business processes, but also to consider other aspects. These include, for example, business objects, system components as well as strategies and key figures. The digital twin forms a coherent information network of the strategic and operational aspects mentioned above. Within the framework of this holistic view, the relationships between the formerly independent artifacts also become transparent.

In times of an increasingly complex and turbulent world, agility, i.e. the ability of a company to adapt to a changing environment, helps to recognize changes in due time, to generate measures and to align its own business model accordingly. Digital twins represent an important pillar in this context, because a holistic view of the business model and the associated processes allows for an early perception of changes in the corporate environment. With the help of a digital twin, forecasts can be made and any necessary reaction measures can be initiated – with no impact whatsoever on day-to-day operations. The latter is not affected by any of this, because development, testing, simulation and optimization take place in the virtual environment and thus ensure an increase in productivity as well as safety and quality.

By using modern process modeling tools to create and maintain digital twins, companies not only benefit by receiving a holistic picture of their processes and structures, but are also able to focus more on their core competencies by increasing efficiency and productivity.

One of the numerous benefits stems from the interaction of a digital twin with process mining, i.e. the real-time evaluation of processes in IT systems. Process mining technologies can be used to analyze and visualize actual processes in the existing system. Deviations from the desired target state (in the form of the digital twin) are detected at an early stage and appropriate response measures can be taken.

In summary, companies benefit in many ways from using a digital twin, and are thus equipped to meet the challenges in the VUCA world of today.

Author: Christoph Soehnle