By John Murray
Welcome to the last blog in this series. In this series, we’ve detailed how to maximise the potential of the Digital Twin (amongst other technologies) and explored some common obstacles encountered on the path to digital transformation. So, what’s our conclusion?
In some ways, our conclusion is instead a conclusion of various major developments, which by themselves would be significant, but become genuinely transformative when brought together.
Emerging trends, such as connectivity automation machine learning and others are feeding into the digital twin concept. The digital twin can draw from many or all of these emerging technologies, to inform and empower those in the business of product (and system) design and manufacture. However, it can also accomplish much more than improving efficiencies in existing processes.
As this blog series has illustrated, careful consideration is needed to ensure that these new capabilities are effectively deployed. Perhaps not a controversial proposition, but the key takeaway from our position here at Virtalis is that we believe the scope for this evaluation needs to be both broad and deep.
We have explored a number of examples of how businesses in the aerospace and automotive sectors are fundamentally rethinking the way they manage their supply chains or even how they go to market in response to these emerging technologies. However, we have also seen that a contextual digital twin can extend the value of the digital twin philosophy much wider than might otherwise be possible. It seems that visualisation is a fundamental building block to the contextual digital twin.
The fact is that advocating for visualisation as a key industrial tool is no longer a minority view. Taking advantage of visualisation as a business tool no longer requires access to rare and valuable equipment: visualisation is open to all, whether via hand-held devices or dedicated head-mounted displays.
Market projections also bear out this prediction. Double-digit growth for extended reality technologies (the umbrella term for augmented, mixed and virtual reality) are widely predicted over the next five years, and this from a current market size in the order of $30 billion.
Credible market reports indicate that less than 20% of organisations do not currently have immediate plans as to the future of visualisation within their organisation. If you read that and couldn’t think of yours: either your organisation hasn’t planned one, or one exists in which your requirements have not been considered. Neither is a good result.
As we have explored together in this blog series, successfully integrating visualisation into your business requires careful planning. The impediments are many, and often subtle and the full potential of the digital twin risks remaining theoretical if the context of the individuals and departments is not considered. Whole swathes of potential users can be left out if the entire product lifecycle is not brought within scope.
The five components of the contextual digital twin are a useful checklist in this regard. The idea is not to burden any plan with a requirement to tick all boxes immediately, but each element needs to be considered to allow the system to expand and develop as necessary in the future.
What of the future then? I think I’ll leave the detail of that question to a separate blog, but what is for sure is that the frames through which we view extended reality are shifting dramatically and quickly.
If your organisation still views visualisation as a niche or even primarily an entertainment-based tool, I would politely suggest that you may already have been overtaken by events.