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Expert Q&A: Digital Twin Use Cases and Their Impact on CRE

Recently, we hosted a webinar with industry experts, Paul M. Maximuk from Newcomb & Boyd, Emmanuel Daniel from Microsoft, and Charles Whiteley from ExxonMobil. Below is part three of three excerpts from our expert Q&A where we will be discussing various themes. In theme three, our experts discuss Digital Twin use cases and their impact on Commercial Real Estate (CRE)

Read, listen or watch the Q&A discussion below:


Q: When you were putting together the vision for the experiences that ExxonMobil wanted to curate for your employees, how did you decide on what use cases were of the most value and most important? 

A: Charles: The way we go about identifying use cases tied to technology investments is based on strong economics. We look at both soft benefits and hard benefits. Most of our DCFR and MPV calculations required to secure investment to drive digital work are all based on hard benefits. As we looked at our digital strategy and what we wanted to enable tied to our ENPS function, we’ve got use cases that sit outside corporate real estate. But, each of the use cases that we looked at based on white space opportunities, pinpoints within the organization, we took a user-centered design approach and looked at a day in the life across all the different users, whether they’re employees, contractors, or residents that work within our physical space and environments, and we identified opportunities. We went through a categorization/classification type of exercise and bundled those opportunities into a list of key capabilities, and then did ROI calculations tied to each of those use cases within those buckets. And, the ones that came out with the highest potential ROI were the areas that we tackled first. So it was a very thoughtful, and focused type of traditional IT, digital strategy exercise. 

Q: What are some use cases that you can get from a Digital Twin that make you excited for your smart campus projects? 

A: Emmanuel: I think a lot of people are still struggling with why Digital Twin? What is the value we’re going to get out of it? When we started this down, the approach that we took for the buildings that we had is how do we create space? - A space that is so inspirational that it enables and drives productivity, and empowers people to be better versions of themselves. And we noticed that there is a shift in the utilization of physical space and how physical space is being viewed. You don’t just go inside an office just so you sit by yourself, work by yourself, and you go home. You go there to collaborate, you go there to interact, to learn, to grow, and to be healthy both emotionally and physically. How do we deliver these results while at the same time, ensuring that we don’t burnout the efficiencies that the building has? How do we manage effective utilization of the physical space while at the same time, delight the users and the occupants that use that space? And the only way for us to achieve that was to rely on data to meet the needs of both the FM practices within that building and the needs of the user that come into that building. 

People don’t go into a building thinking that the lights won’t work, or the cooling/heating won’t work. They go in thinking everything happens correctly. But, as a building owner, how do I make that space more attractive so people want to come to work in my space that I operate? And how do I drive efficiency so that I don’t burn a hole through my operations budget? That for us led to the identification of core areas that people focus on. Areas such as movement, productivity, focusing on operations, and transportation. Why transportation? - Because it is not just about the building, it’s about you getting to the building, accessing that building, and finding that person or the room that you want to go into. So, identifying the integrated experiences that have touchpoints on all aspects of a person’s journey within and outside the building was the approach we took to quickly identify the use cases. If you don’t have integrated experiences, then the whole need of having a Digital Twin is not mandated. But, for us, it is the integrated experiences that led us to say that this requires a data model, and this data model needs to be tied up and integrated into a Digital Twin, so I can provide and cater to any type of experiences for any type of workforce and people coming into that building. And that’s how we did it. 

Q: How do you divide the use cases and the KPI’s? From a consultant perspective, where do you tell them to begin? 

A: Paul: Start with the operations team, bring in the champion of this whole process of rolling out what your vision is. He/She will bring the key players to the table on the operations side and planning side, and so forth. Half of the discussions with them are about bringing the key IT people into the discussion of where you want to go. Then, work with them to do the assessments of your current systems, plan an edition of scaling this out, starting with maybe one site to roll out a Digital Twin platform, bringing in what you would like to see, and build upon that. Definitely develop key standards as a starting point use case with that individual client, build the design guidance of where you think that vision will go, and how you’ll get to those points and solve those use cases. And finally, work with them on the process of bringing the right players to the table that can deliver what needs to happen. 


As an organization that serves many industries such as healthcare, commercial real estate, and corporate real estate organizations, we empathize deeply with what our customers are going through at this moment. We’re a technology organization, but for us people have always come first. If you need advice on where to start or how you can make the changes your organization needs to be prepared for the future, get in touch. Community is important now more than ever. 

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