On November 13 and 14, 2019, Franco Castaldini, ThoughtWire’s CCO, took to the stage at CoRE TECH 2019 in San Jose to discuss how corporate real estate leaders can digitally transform their portfolios to create a seamless workplace experience for occupants and operators. One of the technologies he explored, in particular, is the digital twin. In light of his two talks, we thought we’d dive into this topic, looking at four ways digital twins can create a seamless workplace by:
- helping to create dynamic spaces;
- providing missing insights about building usage;
- supplying data to make business decisions; and
- improving employee experience.
But before we get started, let’s first define what we mean by a digital twin.
Defining the “Digital Twin”
Not simply a digital mock-up of the physical environment, a digital twin is the contextual model of an entire organization and its operation. It’s the data from your subsystems and the real-time interaction between your people, process and connected things.
Digital twins solve the challenges of real-time data processing by bringing together data from IT and OT systems, IoT sensors and third party data in a contextual representation of your built environment. They allow you to analyze the complexity of your built environment across the entire portfolio, take immediate action to optimize conditions, and track and improve the state of your built environment over time.
Four Ways Digital Twins Can Create a Seamless Workplace
- Digital Twins Help Create Dynamic Spaces
The way we work is changing. If you look at industry news headlines, you’ll see articles about the rise of shared working spaces, flexible work hours and remote working. Yes, Millennials and Gen Z’ers are a big driver of this change, but the conversation isn’t limited to the younger generations. In fact, in today’s economy, there is a multigenerational global talent war in many industries -- like tech, finance and telecom -- where workers of all ages and demographics are asking for flexible working arrangements, remote work and a more holistic perspective on productivity in exchange for their loyalty. Moreover, in our increasingly connected world, employees want their office environments to be as smart as their homes, cars and digital communities -- with the ability to create a personalized experience.
However, many traditional office buildings still operate in the ‘dark’ with limited use of modern technology and little ability for employee’s to interact dynamically with their environment. Not only does this make for an experience marked by friction, it leads to inefficiencies in building performance and misses out on the “wow” factor -- something that helps attract in-demand employees.
A digital twin can transform an outdated workplace into one that’s dynamic, modern and seamless. By bringing together information and data from a variety of different sources and producing a contextual model, a digital twin can be used to optimize conditions and enable employees to interact with their spaces. For instance, if a group of employees needs to work collaboratively on a certain project, digital twin technology can be leveraged to match the group with a space in the building that offers the right features, book it, and then enjoy control over the conditions of the room.
- Digital Twins Provide Missing Insights About Building Usage
Do you truly know how employees are using your building? For instance, are there empty boardroom with lights left on for hours at a time? Are there times when an entire floor of employees leave for a team retreat or conference? Are there certain days of the year when specific teams or companies are working around the clock to meet deadlines?
How people interact with their office environment directly impacts resource use and needs for services like cleaning and security. By having better insight into how and when people use a space, you can find ways to scale up or down resources or enable a more flexible use of the space. A digital twin uncovers these missing insights by providing 360 dashboards, floor plans, analytics and other tools that offer information about real-time building use. A digital twin also helps to predict future states and optimize conditions -- resulting in better outcomes for everyone, including reduced costs for owners and a seamless experience for employees.
- Digital Twins Supply Data to Make Business Decisions
Now, more than ever, building owners and operators are looking to data to make business decisions. Data is all around us, yet harnessing data in a way that allows us to operationalize it has been a challenge. Digital twins change this. By providing a holistic view of a building, they help to unlock data that was previously hidden, and test how this data can result in positive outcomes for both the bottom line and employees.
With access to actionable data, digital twins can help owners/operators make better decisions about a range of topics and economic drivers. For instance, third party service contracts can be better negotiated and deployed when informed by data from a digital twin. Rather that use a static model for making decisions on services like cleaning or maintenance, owners/operators can employ a demand-based model that matches supply with changing needs. This makes for a smarter approach, resulting in better working conditions for employees and reduced costs for building owners.
- Digital Twins Improve Employee Experience
How many times have you been too hot or too cold in your office building? How many times have you visited the washroom and found no hand towels? How many times have you reported a light out and waited days or even weeks before it was changed? Communication in a large office building is difficult. With literally hundreds of occupants, dozens of bathrooms and thousands of lights, building managers get endless requests and struggle to triage and action them all in an efficient manner. This just one contributing factor that can make for a clunky employee experience.
A digital twin changes this by bringing together data from connected devices and sensors to provide building managers with real-time information about changing conditions. Is a light out? An IoT sensor will alert the building manager. Is an employee feeling too cold? Using their connected smart phone app, the employee can change their environmental settings. Digital twins also help determine the most efficient path to action requests and allow dynamic two-way communication between building staff and employees.
In conclusion, digital twins are transforming the built environment and creating seamless employee experiences. With digital twin implementation on the rise, new use cases are being developed every day and the technology is helping owners future-proof their assets and attract in-demand employees by offering a superior experience.
About ThoughtWire’s Digital Twin Technology
- PrecisionHub - PrecisionHub gives building and facility managers visibility into a building’s end-to-end operations, plus complete command and control over operations. This helps them optimize operations and tenant experience in real-time and take preemptive or remote actions for the building’s entire operational value chain.
- @Work App - @Work App helps to create smarter spaces that connect employees to their environment for a happier and long-lasting relationship. The application gives tenants the ability to control their environment, whether that means booking meeting rooms easily, ordering services on demand or making a maintenance request quickly.