Accenture: Power of a digital twin for product development
Accelerate your business by adding a digital twin to your operations. This is the message from Accenture who highlight AI-driven technology is the future of product development.
But what is a digital twin? This is a virtual digital double of a physical object, system or process and can be used to monitor, analyse and simulate their physical counterparts during the research and development stages.
“The digital twin done right enables companies to reimagine product development, but the true transformation is even larger. Ultimately, building these capabilities will determine the difference between companies locked in the past - unable to keep pace in today’s marketplace - and the living, evolving companies of the future,” comment Accenture.
“It also helps companies to focus their human experts’ time on new value streams and moving to market with new, ground-breaking products at speed. Design, prototyping, testing, and validation can all be done in a virtual space. This permits more experimentation. And every change can be rapidly evaluated for its impacts before the product is manufactured.”
Digital twins are likely to trigger a total process transformation which will boost efficiencies, speed up development and deliver better design options and generate new revenue streams for companies.
The report, Twin-driven and AI-enabled is the future of product development, by Accenture stresses that digital doubles must be deployed with AI.
“This enables companies to achieve new, intelligent and resilient product design. The physical manifestation of a product can be pushed closer to the supply chain and the customer. Design and manufacturing cycles shrink from years to weeks. And creativity is unleashed with unprecedented force,” comment Accenture.
It is reported that multiple goals can be achieved by using a digital twin, these include:
AI has transformed traditional product life cycles of being driven by human engineers. The customer's voice can now be heard from the start and continues through manufacturing and into support as continuous monitoring directs the product to update itself. As a result, companies can create individualised experiences.
Agile product development
To transform a product development, everyone in the process needs access to a continuously updated single source of truth. The digital twin done right supports this kind of visibility.
“Collaboration does not just have to be limited to human teams. AI assistants can work alongside human designers to streamline the data captured by the twin to create a seamless process,” comment Accenture.
R&D teams and designers currently act more like platform developers. They manage communities of suppliers, ecosystem partners and end users and are all responsible for different parts of the design process.
“To succeed, they need tools that operate across different deployments. Such tools must also be able to manage exponential quantities of data,” outlines the report.
“Accenture uses digital twins with AI to enable tools capable of handling feedback on this scale. Such tools support ecosystem management by identifying the most critical issues during product development. This allows for powerful collaboration on development efforts far beyond what we think of as traditional products.”
According to Accenture, transformation of product development will be an evolution from intelligent analytics to the full capabilities of an AI and a digital twin: full process automation.
“We see AI and digital twin capabilities as a two-dimensional journey… How far companies will get on their journey - and how quickly - depend on two dimensions: data and AI impact,” says the report.
Intelligent analytics is identified as a quick way to get started as this enables companies to augment the product development process with dashboards and control towers. Moving forward, the twin can support stakeholder synchronization.
“The next level of maturity supports stakeholder coaching. That is, intelligent assistants' coach human stakeholders to complete activities. At the height of both data and application maturity, an organisation can reach full process automation. The digital twin automates individual tasks or a process so that it requires little to no human intervention.
“Digital twins can make the real world machine-readable and machine-controllable. That’s why combining twins with AI is such a powerful concept.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”