According to a recent survey by Gartner, 13% of organisations implementing the Internet of Things (IoT) in AEC projects already use digital twins, while 62% are either in the process of digital twin use or plan to do so

Gartner describes 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.

Benoit Lheureux, research vice president at Gartner said: “The results – especially when compared with past surveys – show that digital twins are slowly entering mainstream use.

“We predicted 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.”

While only 13% of respondents claim to already use digital twins, 62% are either in the process of establishing the technology or plan to do so in the next year. This rapid growth in adoption is due to extensive marketing and education by technology vendors, but also due to digital twins delivering business value and becoming part of enterprise IoT and digital strategies.

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Lheureux added: “We see digital twin adoption in all kinds of organizations. However, manufacturers of IoT-connected products are the most progressive, as the opportunity to differentiate their product and establish new service and revenue streams is a clear business driver.”

A key factor for enterprises implementing IoT is that their digital twins serve different constituencies inside and outside the enterprise. 44% of respondents reported that while most of their digital twins serve only one constituency, sometimes their digital twins served multiple.

When asked for examples of digital twin constituencies, replies varied widely, ranging from internal IoT data consumers, such as employees or security over commercial partners to technology providers.

When an organisation has multiple digital twins deployed, it can make sense to integrate them. For example, in a power plant with IoT-connected industrial valves, pumps and generators, there is a role for digital twins for each piece of equipment, as well as a composite digital twin, which aggregates IoT data across the equipment to analyse overall operations.

Despite this setup being extremely complex, 61% of survey respondents that have implemented digital twins have already integrated at least one pair of digital twins with each other.

Lheureux concluded: “What we see here is that digital twins are increasingly deployed in conjunction with other digital twins for related assets or equipment.

“However, true integration is still relatively complicated and requires high-order integration and information management skills. The ability to integrate digital twins with each other will be a differentiating factor in the future, as physical assets and equipment evolve.”

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