Digital Twin of an Organization: Choosing the Right Tool for the Job

By: Issa Kerremans

Ever stared at a collection of saws, hammers, or screwdrivers in a hardware store, wondering which one to buy?  Or stood in a kitchen shop faced with a bewildering array of knives, all broadly similar yet each subtly different?  When you eventually turn to the assistant for help, they usually ask, “Well, what do you want to use it for?”  The best tools are designed for a particular task, so before you can choose the right tool, you first need to understand the task.  What’s true for hammers and kitchen knives is equally true of software to build a digital twin.

If you’re new to the concept of digital twins, take a few minutes to read in our previous two blogs on the subject.  Who Doesn’t Want a Crystal Ball? describes what a digital twin is and the benefits it delivers.  Delivering Twins describes the three most important challenges you’ll need to think about before you start building one (Spoilers – one of them has nothing to do with technology).  If you’re up to speed with all that, read on.

A digital twin of your organization (DTO) isn’t an end in itself.  It’s a means of facilitating digital transformation and process improvement which in turn increases resilience and agility, reduces costs and risk, and boosts operational excellence.  To make an informed decision about which digital twin technology is right for you, first think about the activities it must support.

Discovery and Analysis

To usefully predict how your organization will respond to change, your digital twin must first accurately mirror the present, which means building it from operational and contextual data.  You can gather a lot of this through tool-based process mining (BusinessOptix has its own mining tools and also allows you to ingest data using third party tools).  However, there’ll be a significant minority of processes unsuitable for automated discovery (see Stuck in the Mine if you want to know more) and creating a digital twin is one of those activities where “good enough” isn’t.  To plug the gaps, you’ll need a platform which also provides mapping and modelling capabilities to build a complete picture of your current state.

Once you have an accurate digital model of your organization, you’ll want to identify and prioritize processes (or sub-processes) which can be improved.  BusinessOptix produces just such a list as an output from the discovery process.  We identify manual steps that can be automated, high lag time that can be reduced, or older non-performant systems that can be replaced.  There’s also an automated gap analysis which compares your current state with either your desired future state or recognized best practice and produces a list of potential improvements that’ll take you from good to better to best.

What gets measured gets done” is an old business adage but we believe cataloguing and managing your improvement activities is an essential step for any successful change initiative, which is why our platform automatically feeds the gap analysis list mentioned above into an improvement opportunity management tool.  You can also add transformation activities manually captured by traditional means. This list is managed throughout your assessment and approval lifecycle and the records enhanced with outputs from other modules (like scenario modelling and simulation which we’ll discuss in a moment).

Simulation and Transformation

The real value of a digital twin is the ability to evaluate the business impact of change before it happens, whether it’s self-instigated, or due to changes in either the market or society.  To perform this kind of predictive analysis, you need scenario modelling and simulation tools to explore and test how your business processes will react in a range of situations.  You might want to compare two or three different versions of a process to decide which one performs best, or you might what to explore how your current processes will react to events such as an increase or decrease in sales, delays or disruptions in your supply chain, staff shortages, or a dramatic shift in regulatory constraints.  Our platform’s tools provide you with a risk-free, virtual playpen – an environment in which you can simulate both internal and external changes and observe how your organization reacts.  They allow you to carry out experiments which are impractical in the real world (such as radically changing your channel mix) without affecting your day-to-day business.

Once you’ve decided what needs to change, you need to plan and then track the transformation throughout its lifecycle.  We’ve made that easy by providing the capability to build transformation maps and dashboards, enabling you to track progress and measure expected outcomes.  Alternatively, you can export the information to your preferred program management tool.

Collaboration and Compliance

The success of any change initiative depends on how well the people involved can communicate and collaborate, especially in the new world of distributed teams and hybrid working.  We address this in two ways.  Firstly, ours is a unified cloud-based enterprise-scale platform (with review workflows and full audit trails); secondly, we’ve provided powerful documentation tools so your people can work as an integrated team across your business ecosystem.  This helps remove bottlenecks and break down internal silos that might otherwise impede or derail your change management process.

Compliance is a non-negotiable aspect of change.  “After” needs to be at least as compliant as “before” – if not more so.  As you design and model changes, you must proactively manage reputational, financial, and operational risk.  We’ve addressed this by providing the capability to identify GRC requirements and then create, implement and maintain controls, linking them to operational processes.  And because compliance requires proof, we’ve also built in the ability to produce GRC reports for your executives and internal audit teams, regulators and third parties

At BusinessOptix, we believe a DTO is an important step on a journey of continuous innovation.  To that end, we provide dashboards of key metrics so you can check whether or not the improvements you’ve made are delivering the expected benefits.  As each round of improvement completes, you’re ready to repeat it – capturing process performance, modelling scenarios, running “What if?” experiments, and implementing the best new version of your organization – optimized to compete, no matter what changes the future brings.

Deciding you need a hammer or a knife is a trivial example but deciding which type of hammer or knife is more nuanced and vital to the success of the job in hand. Similarly choosing which platform you use to build your digital twin is equally as crucial.  Yes, it’s got to deliver the capabilities described above but also ask yourself, “Is it open?  Has it been given the once over by expert analysts?  Is it locked into to a specific system (like SAP) or can it work with any tech?”  Most especially, ask, “Is it flexible and designed for practitioners?

To find out more about how BusinessOptix can help you contact us today.