KMWorld 2024 Is Nov. 18-21 in Washington, DC. Register now for Super Early Bird Savings!

Three trends in ’23

Article Featured Image

Trend Number 2: Mirror, mirror— introducing the digital twin

Many of the trends we’ve discussed in this column are based on technologies that have been around for decades but have only recently taken off. This next trend, the digital twin, is no exception. Its early incarnations, CAD/CAM and simulation, have seen extensive use in aerospace, civil and structural engineering, and automobile manufacturing, to name a few industries.

In its Information Technology Glossary, Gartner defines a digital twin as “an encapsulated software object or model that mirrors a unique physical object, process, organization, person or other abstraction” (gartner.com/en/information-technology/glossary/digital-twin). Like a simulator, a digital twin provides a means of stress-testing a design, allowing engineers to determine performance envelopes and margins of safety without the risk of catastrophic failure of the system it represents. We're no longer just talking physical systems such as airplanes, bridges, and buildings. We’re talking about using AI/ML in simulations of more complex systems, including humans and the environments in which they operate.

In addition to measuring kinetic forces exerted on a physical system, a digital twin also takes into account such things as cognitive load and other human factors, giving a more complete evaluation of total system performance, end to end. This dovetails with the emergence of the digital enterprise, in which almost every aspect of a business or organization is digitally enabled and enhanced.

Imagine a world in which your entire enterprise has a digital twin running in the background. Y ou could always stay one or two steps ahead by monitoring internal and external trends in real time, formulating adjustments in anticipation of what might be coming down the road, and getting out in front of change instead of scrambling to catch up.

Digital twins are especially effective in large, capital-intensive projects such as smart cities, where attaining a positive ROI can take years. A digital twin provides an accelerated “virtual” lifecycle, allowing for better, faster evaluation of options.

Opportunity for KM: Like KM, the digital twin community has a sharing mindset. For example, IBM’ s Digital Twin Exchange (ibm.com/products/digital-twin-exchange) has more than 2,300 digital twins available—plus you earn credits for sharing yours! Applications include everything from an AI model to predict the effectiveness of personal protection equipment (PPE) to augmented reality environments for lighting systems and minimizing the effects of mechanical vibration.

Increasing demand will make this an excellent opportunity, growing from more than $10 billion annually today to around $73.5 billion by 2027, according to market research firm MarketsandMarkets (marketsandmarkets.com/PressReleases/ digital-twin.asp). The top two anticipated areas of application are predictive maintenance and small- and medium-sized digital enterprises. Both have a huge advantage due to their ability to transform more quickly than their giant competitors.

Trend Number 3: Caution—more disruption and upheaval ahead

We’re not trying to be negative, just realistic. Throughout history, evolution means change, and change means resistance, which almost inevitably results in conflict. Ever-widening socioeconomic and geopolitical division, aided by media-amplified fear of climate change, pandemics, and other crises du jour, only add fuel to the fire. But the focus on sur- face phenomena can cause us to miss deep, underlying root causes and overlook systemic, longer-term solutions. Much like tectonic shifts hiding deep beneath Earth's surface that slowly build up pressure that needs to ultimately be released, so too we must be more mindful of similar pressures building up within our socioeconomic, ecological, and geopolitical systems.

Opportunity for KM: Given the growing speed and complexity of today's problems, the emergence of the 5-billion human cloud couldn’t come at a bet- ter time. And who better than the KM community to help lead the way? We already know how to apply deep thinking and learning within a complex systems framework. Throw in AI/ML, knowledge graphs, data/text analytics, and a dose of human sense-making, and we can help overcome these challenges and move in a more positive direction.

Don’t be left behind. Think about how you can hop on board one or more of these trends and make a real difference. Or even help create a few new ones.

KMWorld Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues