Digital twinning is moving from mirroring buildings to organizations.
Thynkli co-founder and CEO Dana Kawas said her firm is adapting the concept of digital twinning to a company’s organizational structure rather than its physical projects and products.
“There’s a narrow vision in terms of implementing technology, which is plug-and-go, get software or a platform to improve a certain piece of the business. What happens with a lack of strategic change and adoption to support a transition is that those projects fail,” Kawas said.
Thynkli is focusing on heavy industries with complex business operations, she said, because the complexity of digital implementation can be difficult at that level.
Kawas said she decided to look at a digital-first organizational strategy after working as a consultant and dealing with traditional analog processes.
“A high percentage of the industry is doing manual work. As a consultant I would be brought in to do that work and they’d pay me to tell them how to improve the business process. You can’t do that without understanding the current business process, so I would do interviews, ask questions and use sticky notes to map something out in a visual,” she said.
“This is really archaic and it’s a lot of time, money and frustration because once the process changes, who’s going to update it? Now it’s back to being an obsolete documentation,” Kawas said.
“The digital twinning methodology Thynkli employs uses machine learning and process mining which means we connect to (client) data regardless of which system they have and grab the date whether its from a legacy system like Yardi or BIM. Then we’re able to map the ‘as-is’ process and you see it in a spaghetti-type format on your screen and then you’ll be able to optimize that,” she said.
Thynkli also allows users to visualize their organizational data and connect people at various levels of the organization together, Kawas added.
“You understand your process and now you’re going to connect people, so you’re creating accountability, roles and responsibilities for every step in the process,” she said. “People are making decisions for these steps and you know who’s doing what and how a decision in my area can affect you down the road.
“You end up building an ecosystem or a platform that connects your operation with all your systems and data through APIs and machine learning. We map out your business processes and then you can connect people’s roles and responsibilities,” Kawas said.
Industries such as oil and gas and construction are highly regulated, she added, with building codes, sustainability and green building to take into account, and the software also integrates necessary compliance, she said.
“If there’s any regulation or compliance change, you would link it and you would know exactly what process would be impacted by that change,” she added.
Managers and executives will use the tool, she said, but the “digital twin can be used by everyone in the organization. However, the reality of us building this tool is that it won’t be a one-shot implementation. We do an incremental approach where we build a digital twin of a process and say ‘what is your strategy? What are you trying to accomplish?’”
Thynkli then builds a single process, connects “people, process and data” and scales up to different units of the organization until the outcome is a digital twin of the entire company, Kawas said.
“The organization is sitting in software, it’s all real-time data and you see it ,” she added, “The end goal to having a digital twin of the organization is to enable decision-makers at all levels of your organization. Having alignment on decision-making is so valuable in that this is where you gain efficiencies, reduce costs and build resiliency.”
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kawas added, this type of organization becomes even more important.
“Business continuity is now beyond IT disaster recovery. It’s more about operational resiliency and I consider it a competitive advantage to have that resiliency. It means your organization can ramp up or slow down operations in a way that provides flexibility and quick reaction where you modify business processes, operations and navigate the situation you’re in,” Kawas said.
Her advice for any organization looking to map out their digital roadmap is to “think big but start small.”
“What’s the outcome you want to achieve? No matter what you need to know why you’re doing it and then take a small bite of your business, learn from that, scale and work on adoption,” Kawas said.