Twinning in Tech: The Digital Doppelgänger Era
- The tech twins concept. Digital twins simulate real-world scenarios, enabling risk-free testing and decision-making.
- Customer experience enhancement. Digital replicas of customers help businesses anticipate needs and behaviors, improving service.
- Future business transformation. Virtual models are shaping customer experiences, offering precise predictions and personalized interactions.
What would you do if you had an identical twin? What if your identical twin wasn’t a real person, but was an exact digital copy of you, including living in a perfect digital replica of your home, and working in a digital copy of your office? What if this digital twin couldn’t be injured? Wouldn’t be embarrassed? Couldn’t be ashamed?
You’d probably put your digital twin through its paces, testing out scenarios so you could be much more confident about your decisions. After all, you could see how “you” would react and what would happen to “you” based on the choices you made — it would be like a 1980s “Choose Your Own Adventure” book come to life.
This may sound somewhat fantastical, but cyber twins aren’t a dream of the future. If you’ve ever used Google Maps, you’ve used a digital twin of the Earth’s surface. Google Maps isn’t just a visual representation of the Earth, though — it links real-time traffic data with the simulation of the Earth to help you make better decisions about what route to take on your commute.
But digital counterparts have applications far beyond optimizing your commute. When it comes to customer experience, digital twins can help you anticipate and simulate customer needs and behavior.
Let’s dive into what digital twins are, discuss how organizations are developing digital twins of a customer and learn how digital models can shape how you’re interacting with customers — ultimately enabling you to make better decisions.
Haven’t Heard About Digital Twins? You Will
The concept of creating a digital replica of a physical object may sound far-fetched, but it’s no longer a futuristic dream. In the “2023 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies,” Gartner highlighted emerging AI technologies to enhance digital customer experiences as a technology expected to greatly impact business and society over the next two to 10 years — and one that will especially enable CIOs and IT leaders to deliver on the promise of digital transformation.
Crafting a Deeper Understanding
“Over time, it will be possible to use a deep understanding of the customer in a way that creates value for the consumer, the brand and the employees of the brand,” Chris Jones, chief product officer at Amperity, a customer data platform (CDP), said in a VentureBeat article of the possibilities of digital twins of the customer. “One of the things we are observing is the ability of these capabilities to deepen the human connection between brands and the customers they serve by empowering employees across the brand to truly see their customer and provide the most personalized experience possible.”
McKinsey research shows that 70% of C-suite technology executives at large enterprises are already exploring and investing in digital twins, and current estimates predict that the market for digital twins in Europe will be around €7 billion by 2025, with an annual growth rate of 30% to 45%.
In manufacturing, virtual replicas of a physical object or process that can be used to understand how it works in real life have become particularly interesting. Digital twins allow companies to have a complete digital footprint of their products from design and development through manufacturing, using data from computer-aided design (CAD) systems, product lifecycle management (PLM) systems, product data management (PDM) systems, inventory and supply chain data, service data and more.
In 3D visualization, we look at digital doppelgängers from the perspective of physical modeling, where virtual models of physical products enable customers to design and build better products, operate more sustainably and bring products to market faster — ultimately meeting customer needs more reliably and driving more revenue, engagement and loyalty.
“What’s important is that you link the digital twin with real data sources from the environment and are able to update the twin in real time,” says Anna Herlt on the McKinsey Talks Operations podcast. “One of the key elements you need to have is digital maturity. You need to have the supporting data infrastructures, such as PLM, PDM, and access to high-quality data from testing and from the real data environment, either in manufacturing or in service.”
Related Article: How Will Digital Twins of Customers Impact CX?
The Benefits of Tech Replicas of Customers
The idea for digital twins of the customer is very similar. Companies create a virtual representation of a customer, which is then synchronized with its physical representation using real-time data inputs from online and in-person interactions including purchase data, customer surveys, CRM data, social media data, and more.
Consistent common value threads of digital twins are their ability to increase productivity, optimize efficiencies and improve outcome in areas including:
- Improving customer service. Through digital twin technology, companies can test upgrades and new features while proactively troubleshooting before releasing them to the public to avoid any unwanted errors. These lessons learned can then be applied to the physical product or solution to proactively create troubleshooting articles and arm support agents with relevant information.
- Improving product design. Manufacturers can use data from in-service products to identify the most and least used features. That can inform future product development decisions, such as deleting rarely-used features or revising the user interface to make the features more accessible.
- Driving top-line growth. Virtual replicas can help marketers understand customer demographics, psychographics, buying processes and behaviors, targeting marketing campaigns more successfully, maximizing ad spends and investing in more effective marketing activities — helping generate sustained growth.
Just as a digital twin of an airplane can be used by engineers for predictive maintenance, a digital twin of a customer can be used by product management, customer experience and marketing teams to simulate and anticipate customer behaviors. For CX leaders, it can help improve loyalty by identifying friction points that fracture the customer experience.
Related Article: Will the Metaverse Revolutionize Marketing and Customer Experience?
The Future of Twin Technology and Customer Experience
Digital twins come complete with a customer’s personalities, needs, pain points and wants and can be used to accurately simulate the customer experience and provide context and predictions of future behaviors. But a digital twin is more than an AI-fueled customer persona. It’s a concept that builds on the work that CX leaders are already doing when they apply machine learning technologies to customer behavioral data. For example, Amazon is continually refining its product recommendations with constant tweaks to its algorithms, fueling 35% of customer purchases.
Going a Step Beyond Customer Journey Maps
Digital twins also go a step further than customer journey maps, which pinpoint all the intersections a customer has with a brand, including their pain points, or voice of customer initiatives, which aggregate the customer’s own words from social media posts, feedback, reviews, surveys, customer service tickets and more.
A Connected World
In today’s connected world, with Alexa, Google and Siri in our homes, our pockets and our cars, customer interactions are fueled by data. Combining transactional data with demographic data like family size, social media sentiment and usage data from internet of things (IoT) enabled devices like smart phones and connected appliances, digital twins can establish a reliable model of individual consumers, helping to predict not just timing and frequency of purchases but also support needs. This enables companies to provide effective, relevant and timely offers to customers, letting them know that their favorite protein bar is in-stock at three retailers conveniently located on their way home from work, or that it might be time for a service call if they are consistently adding more time to their oven timer.
McKinsey has seen organizations increase revenue by as much as 10% by developing digital twins of their customers. Tech replicas can help drive value, create new revenue streams and help answer strategic questions about customers and their needs. They help companies gain an even deeper understanding of their customers and deliver more personalized, anticipatory, and consistent service across all channels.
In short, digital twins bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds, enabling companies to provide a more relevant experience to customers to drive increased loyalty. It may seem like science fiction, but it’s here now.
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