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Digital twinning for dummies: 101 on how industry players can capitalise on the concept

Digital twinning for dummies: 101 on how industry players can capitalise on the concept

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In today’s competitive business landscape, digitalisation is no longer an option, but a must-have for companies to reach a vast audience, engage with users in real-time and measure the effectiveness of marketing efforts.  

With the advancement of digital technologies and algorithms, the term “digital twinning” technology kicked in in recent years and has impacted various industries across the globe.  

According to Deloitte’s Tech Trends report in 2020, the global digital twinning market was worth US$3.8 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach US$35.8 billion in value by 2025. Much of that momentum derives from rapidly evolving simulation and modelling capabilities, better interoperability and internet of things (IoT) sensors, as well as more availability of tools and computing infrastructure. 

If you are confused by this new digital tech though, we are here to break it down as well and to tell you everything you need to know about it. 

What is digital twinning? 

Largely adopted by the industrial sector over the last 20 years, a digital twin is a virtual representation that closely resembles a physical object. It is created by equipping an object such as a wind turbine with sensors that capture data related to its performance. This data is then transmitted to a processing system, which updates the digital twin accordingly. 

A typical digital twin needs to be comprised of the following ingredients: a physical subject that continuously generates real-time data while active or in operation, a digital replica 3D model of a physical subject, a continuous feed of data from a physical subject to a virtual twin, as well as a software platform that can integrate all relevant data and mirror a physical subject in real-time. 

With the real-time data incorporated, the digital twin becomes a powerful tool for conducting simulations, analysing performance issues, and generating potential enhancements. By leveraging the insights gained from the digital twin, valuable improvements can be made to the physical object itself. 

With the recent introductions of IoT, blockchain, machine learning (ML) and AI into the arsenal of modern-day tech, digital twins of products, components, processes, and systems, even DToCs (digital twins of customers), the application of this adaptive technology span far beyond the real-time monitoring and management of factories, power plants, and construction grounds. It has become significantly more valuable and accessible to various stakeholders. 

How can APAC brands capitalise on the concept? 

As digital twinning offers a unique opportunity to bridge the gap between the physical and digital realms, how brands in APAC can harness the potential of digital twinning technology to drive customer engagement, is a million-dollar question. 

Marketers and advertisers who are interested in exploring more with digital twins may get started with geographic information system (GIS) data, which is most often an open-source resource, according to Lewis Lupton, chief metaverse officer at Shadow Factory.  

“By combining a 3D model from GIS data of ad deployment locations with, say, foot-traffic data fed by Infrared (IR) motion sensors, I can already start to visualise all that raw data in a 3D context, making it much easier and interesting for my clients and stakeholders to see and make confident data-driven decisions,” Lupton added. 

Another example of digital twinning is leveraging the metaverse to provide immersive social experiences in parallel to consumers’ real-life activations.  

Sebastien Borget, co-founder and COO of The Sandbox, said: “The metaverse is a creative channel for customer engagement, bringing a brand to life in a new way that leverages existing video clips, print & TV ads and in-store displays - while also encouraging in-depth storytelling and co-creation with its audience.” 

In recent months, Sandbox’s community has participated in numerous immersive social experiences and events in parallel to their real-life activation. For example, The Sandbox recently partnered with McDonald’s Hong Kong to take McNuggets to a gaming virtual world powered by Web3 that is filled with themed gamified challenges and virtual rewards and closely echoes its in-store activities. 

Don't miss: McDonald's HK wows HKers with McNuggets art exhibition and metaverse experience 

As there is already a good number of digital twinning sets ready for industrial application such as process modelling, the only discussion left is how industry players could leverage the "digital-to-real" concept, by bridging the digital and physical worlds, said Donald Wong, former executive partner, We Are Social Hong Kong.  

“Even without a fully simulated digital twin in the virtual world, a lot of adtech implementations akin to the twinning concept are already the solutions to aid marketers in better understanding consumers and their preferences,” he added. 

With Asian cities such as Hong Kong vying for the “Smart City” status, there marketers are seeing more opportunities with "digital twinning", such as the ability to paint an even better portrait or create more accurate predictive models, he said.  

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