Digital twin technology has become integral to manufacturing and the Internet of Things over the past several years. It has helped companies create better products with more efficient manufacturing, bringing clarity to designers and improving an assembly plant’s level of productivity.
The importance of digital twins in retail manufacturing is clear, but there’s another domain where digital twins can make a significant difference: Monitoring and forecasting sales and revenues.
The combination of digital twin technology and artificial intelligence and other forecasting tools has created an exciting space for retail to grow and change. From better product design to improved manufacturing and streamlined internal operations, digital twins and AI are proving to be a powerful pair in retail.
Expanding the Digital Twin Concept
The concept and use of digital twins have come a long way since the technology was first developed. Beginning as a NASA tool to create models of space capsules, the technology soon expanded to digital simulations to see how an object, including manufactured products, would operate in physical form.
Since its inception, digital twin technology has sparked excitement, finding its way into the Internet of Things and manufacturing in industrial, technology and retail spaces. By simulating a physical object in a digital form, those in design and production can create prototypes with more accuracy than ever, analyzing and gathering feedback before physical production has even begun. This has created a marked change in how companies operate, from product development all the way through manufacturing and product performance on the market.
As digital twins are put to use in a variety of settings, it’s no wonder the concept is expanding. Retailers, for example, can make further use of digital twins with dashboards that provide real-time or near-real-time information to forecast sales volume and revenue. Forward-thinking retailers continue to find new use for digital twins, artificial intelligence and other forecasting tools, bringing an increased level of creativity and precision to the design process.
Digital twins provide a significant opportunity for companies to improve forecasting, which in turn offers the opportunity to explore creative designs and solutions. With even the smallest change in design, size or materials, digital twins give retailers the ability to predict manufacturing times, costs and potential revenue.
Information is power, allowing retailers to predict not just revenue but potential obstacles. That information then lends itself to creative problem solving to overcome challenges as they present themselves, freeing up mental space for employees to focus elsewhere.
Artificial Intelligence and Digital Twins
The combination of digital twins, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics can help retailers in a wide variety of areas, both internally and externally. The ability to change products without having to reconfigure physical objects provides more flexibility to make design alterations in a team setting, gathering and implementing internal feedback without having a complete rework.
Forecasting tools can analyze the success and areas of improvement for products already in market. They also give retailers the ability to explore different dimensions such as materials, customer feedback, regional sales, cost and time of production. This information gathered from dashboards allows them to play around with existing products in digital twin format, making them more cost effective, speeding up production and making changes that increase customer satisfaction.
Under this model of operation, the digital twin receives its information from various information systems such as online sales systems and CRMs. These pieces of data and resulting changes make an impact across an organization, in seemingly unexpected ways.
Digital twin technology alongside AI and other forecasting techniques allows experts to run scenarios using predictive analytics aimed at enhancing product performance. These analytics can then be by other departments such as sales to marketing, providing a true understanding of the products long before they see a physical object in front of them.
Teams can then hit the ground running, developing manufacturing, marketing and advertising plans much earlier in the product timeline. This saves time, money and resources, cutting through confusion and streamlining operations across the board.
Maziar Adl is CTO of Gocious