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Is there a need for Digital Triplets? Quadruplets? Siblings even?

How can we adapt to a world that was, that is, and will be? How can we adapt to a future that is unknown?
Nicolas WaernNicolas Waern
"The Building Whisperer"



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How can we adapt to a world that was, that is, and will be? How can we adapt to a future that is unknown? Can we make it known by utilizing the concept of Digital Twins, and go Beyond Buildings? Can we simulate the future, having done thousands of AI-driven simulations, and bring the solutions back to the now, knowing what the future will look like?

Knowing that the future is already here, only unevenly distributed. I have made it my mission to find the tools that can distribute the future to the ones that want it the most. Digital Twins are quite in the hype for now so thought I could stir up some noise even more with Digital Triplets.

What started off as a joke, soon became reality in a couple of conversations with partners and vendors last week. I talked to legends in the Power industry having written articles about Triplets a year ago exactly. It came up in discussions with industrial automation professionals regarding simulation capabilities. I mentioned 6G, 7G, or 8G and Digital Triplets in a webinar last week to make a point that we need to talk more about the jobs to be done, instead of the buzzword bingo right now. 

The need to adapt to existing ways of working was also discussed in a webinar [i] for Chalmers University and The Digital Twin City Centre, about Revenue Models and Business Models. The importance of understanding the concept, the situation, and the unique problems that should be solved cannot be emphasized enough, where existing companies are indeed built to die[ii].

Finding inspiration is not the challenge. That is just a google away. Finding what problems to solve, and how to solve them in their unique setting with culture, processes, people, existing systems, and political agendas can only be discovered by digging into the reality that exists. It is known that Digital Twins can accelerate digital transformation efforts. But a lot of the real use cases are yet to be discovered at scale.  But what are the main parts that Digital Twins are made up of?

"The Digital twin is made up of three parts: physical entities in the real world, virtual models of those entities, and the data that connects the two worlds.

- CIO applications

According to the article above that was shared on Linkedin [iii], CIO applications state that a Digital Twin is made up of a virtual model of what's being "twinned" and the data that connects them. Of what is being “twinned” and the data that connects them. What if there are hundreds of assets, spanning factories, weather, processes, people, and systems in a supply chain? And what about the context? What about the need for visualizations? And what about the need for simulations to be made? Maybe all these things are included and more because Digital Twins can bring real-time data together with the static and are gaining ground where PLM tools falter. The Digital Twin description above feels a bit thin.

So maybe there was some truth to Digital Triplets after all?

Out from a proprietary past and into an open, interoperable future

In one of the discussions, with one of the largest multinational power companies in Europe, we talked about the need for an "operational twin", AND a “simulation/sandbox twin”. They had tried to create a Digital Twin of one of their gas-turbine driven powerplants, but saw these challenges below (and more):

The jobs to be done here, seems to be to go from where they are today, out from a proprietary past and into an interoperable and scalable future. And having the ability to augment, and possibly re-invent existing ways of working in a transparent way.

All the challenges above can be solved through various of ways that exist right now. Where the technologies are finally here to make the future happen. But what was even more interesting was their rhetoric around Digital Twins. One of the things that they were after were Digital Representations of the physical world which they called the operational Digital Twin, that should always mirror the Real-World.


= Digital Twins.

Which I found to be very similar to what the article from CIO applications defined as Digital Twins. But, what they were after even more was a sandbox environment and the ability to run simulations on top of the Digital Twin to feed data back to the Digital Twin. This to change their reality without waiting for actual events to happen in the real world.

= Digital Triplets?

"The Digital twin is made up of three parts: physical entities in the real world, virtual models of those entities, and the data that connects the two worlds."-
CIO applications

Reading the quote above again, I cannot help but think if there is need for Digital Triplets? Or is it just a lack of understanding thus far, as to what capabilities Digital Twins have? And the road towards Triplets, will lead to siblings, cousins, and go beyond that of Triplets and Quadruplets and turn into a digital slippery slope? Most likely. So for now, let’s continue with Digital Twins, and some questions regarding what they are, and what they could be.

Is it possible to say that people should build the Digital Twin first, and then the physical counterpart will follow? Maybe it is just back from the future with Digital Twins, where the simulation side of things is added as one possible dimension of many capabilities of a Digital Twin initiative. But is it possible to get started on the Digital Twin Journey without having a physical asset? Is it more than possible and should even be recommended?

“Does the Digital Twin always need a physical counterpart?”


This is one of many topics that will be covered at Beyond Buildings.

Other questions for discussion:

-        Is there a need to exemplify the different capabilities Digital Twins can have in a simple way? Does it exist already?

-        Should the Digital Twin have the ability to run simulations on its own, or should 3rd party applications be able to work with the Digital Twin in an interoperable way?

-        Should the Digital Twin be able to work with existing systems, and bring their native capabilities together to adapt to the world that already exists?

-        Or should the Digital Twin platform on its own have all the capabilities necessary to bring everything together forever?

-        Should digital twins be able to work with any standard and how to work with AI-enablement at scale?

-        Do Digital Twins start to exist when they have the capabilities to work with model ingestion, and virtual sensors, and are something else entirely up until that point?

-        Do Digital Twins need to be accompanied with Virtual and possibly Visual Digital Twins? In order to capture the importance of the visual and the virtual part of the Digital Twin?

-        If a building has not one, but hundreds of interoperable digital twins of the assets, as well as their context, what happens with the Digital Twins if they lose their Physical counterparts?

-        Is this not where the true value lies in re-using intelligence and true separation of the boundaries of the real world?

-        Is it not the true value of the Digital Twin to exist in the Digital and Virtual Realm and to be able to re-use the intelligence gained for new projects, knowing what will happen beforehand?

-        And to use virtual models, tools, and AI-driven simulations to emulate reality to understand what the future will look like, based on simulations in an emulated reality?

If the new construction of a hospital can re-use the intelligence from a demolished hospital (and or a virtual hospital) and modify it so that a new one can be built, and modified 95% faster than before to match the reality where it will be built. Is that not the true purpose of having Digital Twins? Transcending Product Management Lifecycles and into true meta-verse Enablement? Where we can record reality, and truly transcend the shackles of having to do something in reality first, and only afterwards utilize digital tools and technologies?

-        How important is the visual component to bring people and systems together?
(More on that on the next episode at the
Beyond Buildings Podcast)

And do we need to wait for Digital Twin standards? Or should we get going with Digital Twin approaches that are interoperable, built on open source, and can work with any standard?

All I know is that we need to help companies where they are today and get them to where they need to be tomorrow. Most companies today are experiencing severe challenges in turning data into information with data made by humans. What will happen when data is being created thousands of times faster from machines?

That is the thing. Virtual Digital Twins are some of the best tools out there right now, in bringing people and systems together like nothing before it. And some of the platforms can start anywhere to scale anywhere. The visualization aspects are much more important than what people seem to think, and the ones that get to a digital operating model and business model will soon find themselves leaders of the pack, knowing that it is the fast that eat the slow.

Distributing Future ways of working, today.

Because that is the thing. The future is coming at us fast. Adapting to the future, based on the unique needs of companies where they are today, and where they need to be tomorrow is what is needed. It is not about stepping out of the comfort zone for people. It never was. It is about stepping into the comfort zone, describe what that is, in way that people, as well as systems can understand at scale. It is all about bringing people and systems together, utilizing the power of experts in various areas to innovate with the world that exists today. We cannot keep continuing to expect that people need to change when they do not want to.

Define the jobs to be done, stay in the comfort zone. And then invite people to innovate with the world people know best. Easy right?

But if you still need any help with questions regarding strategy, innovation, and figuring out how modern technologies can help you where you are today. Look no further. WINNIIO will always be by your side. Just reach out to me, Nicolas Waern, on Linkedin or check out my Podcast Beyond Buildings if you need any assistance.

Nicolas Waern

The future is already here, just unevenly distributed. And it’s my job to distribute future ways of working to the ones that want it the most today”.


Nicolas Waern is the CEO, Strategy & Innovation Leader, and a Digital Twin Evangelist at the consulting firm WINNIIO. He is a firm believer that the Real Estate Industry needs more of a lifecycle focus where we need to go Beyond Buildings and come back with an understanding what tools and technology we could use. And to solve the jobs to be done, together, with an open mindset.

Nicolas is working with leaders in several industries to understand how they can succeed in the age of AI. Predicting what the world will do in a week, a month, a year from now and to best utilize strategies and solutions that pass the test of time. He does this through a Digitalization- on Demand approach for anyone that needs to change before they have to.

Nicolas is a Podcast Creator & Newsletter Editor for Beyond Buildings
Thought Leader regarding Smart Buildings & Building Automation for AutomatedBuildings
Speaker and Influencer Event Streaming Platforms as the Holy Grail for Industry 4.0 Applications
Subject Matter Expert Real Estate Digitalization Proptech Digitalization Expert
Active Member of Digital Twin working groups Digital Twin Subject Matter Expert

[i]  Chalmers Digital Twin City Center Webinar about Smart City Business/Revenue Models

[ii]  Existing companies are built do die

[iii]  Discussion on Linkedin From Dmitrivolkmann.

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