Digital twins are increasingly being implemented at innovative companies across the globe. In fact, analyst firm Gartner recently cited digital twins as a top technology trend, enabling companies to model entire systems, equipment, and even organizations to make better decisions and improve performance.

A recent TIBCO Talk featuring Constellation Research Principal Analyst Doug Henschen and  TIBCO global CTO, Nelson Petracek, takes a fresh look at digital twins, their latest applications, and the innovation they are bringing to companies worldwide. Below are some key highlights:

The Rising Popularity of Digital Twins

While not a new concept, digital twins are growing in adoption and usage with more people exploring the concept and its benefits. According to Henschen, while simulation and modeling have existed for years, the Internet of Things (IoT) has greatly accelerated and expanded the use of digital twins. By enabling a virtual twin—or digital replication of a physical thing or system—the two can be connected to communicate with each other via sensors and monitoring. In doing so, digital twins enable better decision making for the physical twin by analyzing and better understanding the virtual twin.

Digital Twins Scaling Way Up

In general, digital twins can be used to benefit organizations in three different ways, according to the podcast. First, they can be used to assist in developing new products, using the virtual twin to “prototype” and optimize product design before the physical product is developed. Second, when an asset already exists, the virtual twin can be used to monitor—and even intervene as needed—in the operation of the physical asset. Finally, where companies have fleets of physical assets, “aggregate” twins can be created that factor in data from a common set of assets across the company to carry out predictive maintenance based on data analytics.

Examples of companies benefiting from digital twins include those that have sophisticated machinery like turbines and engines, as well as processes or production lines that can be replicated, analyzed, and improved. On a larger scale, digital twins have even scaled up to replicate large physical areas, such as airports and smart cities.

How to Get Started with Digital Twins

Henschen advises those new to creating digital twins to start with building a sound business case. This includes clearly defining the problem you’re trying to solve and what it takes to make the digital twin sustainable over the long term, including how much cost is required. At the same time, it’s important not to do everything all at once, but rather develop a well thought-out, well-scoped program that focuses on a specific use case, its identified value, and the capabilities of the business to execute.

To learn more, including how to properly scope a digital twin initiative, listen to the full 20-minute podcast here.