Digital twin technology will transform business and society by 2035, with widespread adoption coming first in life sciences and retail, to be followed by smart cities/homes in the coming years, a new report released this week by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) predicts.
The research, known as the Digital Twindex, found that “one of the most significant advantages of digital twins is their ability to use data to model future scenarios. This capability has proven crucial in industries such as manufacturing, where digital twins can anticipate machine failures and optimize maintenance schedules, reducing downtime and costs.
“Experts predict that these benefits will be democratized across many industries in the coming years, with survey participants pointing to connected, real-time healthcare and efficient energy management as the two use cases that will most benefit human lives.”
In healthcare, for example, authors of the report say that “digital twins of the human body can help ensure medical procedures are rehearsed and run smoothly, and enable highly personalized treatment.
“This will be the most difficult feat to accomplish, with surveyed experts believing a digital twin of the full human body is at least 10 years away for the majority of us, given the complexity, variations, and likely regulatory requirements. That said, individual twins of human organs, such as TCS’ Heart and Skin BioTwins, already show the potential of future treatments.”
Frank Diana, the organization’s principal futurist, said that this “first-ever TCS Digital Twindex demonstrates that digital twins will be one of the most influential technologies of the 2020s and 2030s. Based on our research and consensus from peer futurists and subject matter experts outside of TCS, the impact to business and society at large will be tremendous.”
“By 2035 we expect the vast majority of businesses across every industry to have adopted digital twin technology for use cases ranging from scenario planning to medical experimentation.”
In the report, Diana predicts the following:
- In addition to the business benefits, which are already arriving, digital twins within healthcare and life sciences will truly save lives – human and animal: “The progress of digital twins allows us to envision a world in which testing of new technologies, surgical procedures, cosmetics and drugs for the human body happens entirely in cyberspace. There would never be the need to experiment on an animal again.”
- As far as business is concerned, digital twin technology will act as a “critical enabler for executives that need to rehearse the future. Accurately predicting the future is virtually impossible given the speed and complexity of converging factors. Instead, businesses need to See, Rehearse, and Adapt to likely scenarios, and digital twin technology will dramatically advance the ability to leverage this framework.”
TCS futurist Alexandra Whittington states in the report that the technology is “going to help us realize a more sustainable and equitable future than we ever thought possible.”
In the area of healthcare, she writes, it can “aid personalized treatment plans by creating a digital replica of an individual’s health profile. This would enable doctors to predict health outcomes, monitor chronic conditions, and optimize treatment strategies. Digital twins can also streamline drug development and clinical trials, potentially leading to faster cures and more effective medicines.
“A digital twin that encompasses the entire healthcare ecosystem would allow for holistic patient care. It would enable care providers to have a full picture of a patient’s health history, lifestyle, and socio-economic factors, leading to more accurate diagnoses and personalized treatments.”
Despite these and other opportunities, TCS futurist Kevin Benedict notes in the report that when experts were asked to to identify the biggest risks involved with digital twin technology, many pointed to the need to manage risk through governance or regulatory bodies.
“While digital twins offer numerous benefits, they also raise concerns about privacy and security, as they involve collecting and analyzing large amounts of data. It’s crucial for the public to understand what data is used, how it’s protected, and the measures in place to ensure privacy.
“At the same time, businesses need to ensure robust data protection measures are in place and that their use of digital twins complies with relevant regulations.”
As for the pending digital twin revolution, Diana said that organizations need to start preparing now by building a strong digital core, and examining their data governance and privacy policies to ensure they are set up for success, noting, “Those companies who are positioned to rapidly adopt and innovate with digital twins will be better able to adapt to new challenges and opportunities, whether those be disruptions like pandemics or changing consumer preferences.”