Iotics: the age of the digital twin
There has been a lot of hype around digital twins, but there is now a real need for digital twins as powerful ‘digital shadows’ that are able to drive smart systems and the next generation of supply chains. These are not simply visualizations of assets, 3D models or pictorial representations; true digital twins function as ‘white boxes’, interrelating data sources from across an asset’s entire lifecycle as its semantically defined, data-based virtualization. They are comprehensive, interoperable versions of any business asset – people, places, processes or things – with access to all of its data and controls and structured and tagged, enabling it to be read directly by machines.
The inclusion of controls, as well as data, is integral to a twin’s ability to autonomously interoperate and leverage emergent pattern recognition and for AI to enrich customer-centric services. Their power lies not in what they can physically show us, but how they can securely and meaningfully interact with each other and, in doing so, create secure, scalable, adaptable digital ecosystems.
A digital twin can be made up of separate parts to create twins of components, assemblies, people, or an entire manufacturing plant and can be combined in multiple ways to create a unified access point or gateway to numerous sources of data and information.
This is not copying data, creating new data lakes, or rearchitecting legacy systems, but leveraging them through the creation of events and instances in a twin’s life that provide real-time insight into demand, supply, performance and operations. It is the ability for connected objects to talk to each other and work together to provide entirely new services.
Digital twins don’t replace existing technology or legacy investment, rather they extend capabilities, increase flexibility and mitigate the risk of businesses failing. Organizations such as Rolls-Royce are harnessing twin-based interoperable ecosystems to deliver the next generation in customer service: Customer Service 4.0.
Rolls-Royce business unit, Power System, is using digital twin and event data technology from Iotics to unlock over 200 data sources, brokering interactions to create digital twins of their in-field assets and receive real-time event insights across customer, supplier and partner boundaries.
Chief IT Digital Officer of Rolls-Royce Power Systems Jürgen Winterholler said, “Digital twin technology is helping us realize our vision of placing our customers at the heart of everything we do, exploiting digital twin technology to deliver the best service and to enable our customers’ businesses.”
Rolls-Royce Power Systems has a single source of truth for asset information. Starting within its extensive rail ecosystem, it sees the transformational potential of physical products and assets having their own digital twins that securely capture, share and exchange data and controls.
“Customer Service 4.0 means seeing the world the way your customers do, collaborating with them, their customers, and our service partners, to deliver greater efficiencies, enhanced insights and new opportunities, without compromising on the quality and security they expect from Rolls-Royce Power Systems,” added Winterholler.
But it is not just manufacturing which will benefit from this brave new digital twin world. The use cases are as varied as the twins themselves. It is not what the technology can do or what problem it solves, but what it enables us to create and co-create. Liberating us from siloed thinking and approaches enables us to focus on what matters to companies, their customers and their communities.
How changing your company's software code can prevent bias
Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day.
Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization.
Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.
Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?
We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization
What impact can exclusive terms have on employees?
Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.
Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code
Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!
What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?
What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.
What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology?
My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve.