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Digital twins: Manufacturing embraced them, Will banks follow suit?

- by Shivani Aggarwal and Irene Varghese

The little kid in you and me always wondered if a magic lamp could bring a Jin who could get us everything we wanted. Not just that, we primarily wanted a Jin to help in writing exams so that the results were always 100 percent accurate, and the list went on. The need for outstanding results and unending desires never gets over, instead it grows as we grow. Years later, in today's tech-savvy world, the Jin looks to be coming alive in the form of a twin! Yes, a twin that can simulate real-world conditions, people, and assets; and is aptly called the 'digital twin.'

Digital twins are virtual products which are replications of physical products, systems, and processes that are indistinguishable from their real counterparts. In simple terms, they are high-end connectors between physical and digital worlds. These digital twins give flexibility to users to make changes and figure out the impact without modifying the actual model. This, in turn, enhances the physical assets performance, eventually increasing the operational efficiency of the business.

Tapping into this potential opportunity, digital twins are being widely used in manufacturing. For instance, they are being widely used to detect assembly line malfunctions in the virtual world much before they occur in reality, condense product development time and costs profusely, and develop feedback loops of customers, thereby transforming the business to a great extent. Recently, General Electric was in the news for deploying digital twin technology in analyzing data of big machines such as aircraft engines, locomotives, and gas turbines. They are not only making headway in manufacturing, but also in other industries such as pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and so on.

The financial services industry, which has been a hotbed for technological innovations, should consider leveraging digital twins mainly for two reasons. Firstly, financial services industry is customer-oriented and relies highly on customer satisfaction. Secondly, the banking industry will be further transformed in the coming years with the increased adoption of beacons, smart watches, wearable's, connected cars, and other connected devices. So, a technology like digital twins will help banks in analyzing tons of data collected from various devices. It can help in deep analysis of customers, and study their behavior, desires, and demand; and accordingly offer products and services.

Specifically in the banking sector, the application of digital twins can be manifold - using them to better understand banking operations, get closer to real-world customers, and finally to renovate banking business as whole. In fact, banks can deploy digital twins of key clientele to monitor their comforts and inclinations based on their archived inputs, purchase records, historic usage patterns of products, and services. If banks embrace digital twins now, they will be able to benefit by understanding their customers better, enhancing their products, and in the end, identifying the best business stream, which would have a cutting edge over competitors.

Digital twins are one of the hottest trends for 2017, as predicted by top-rated analyst firms. It is believed that many companies would be investing heavily in these models within the next few years. Raw data is all around, while insightful data gets generated with digital twins around. If companies fail to leverage them, then they will be left behind in this tech-savvy world!

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