We looked at the role of Digital Twins in the workplace and how during COVID-19 they could be used to help us return to work quickly and safely.
We look at a particlar aspect of Digital Twins, being Business Intelligence and Dashboarding. We talk to the CEO of one of the fastest growing companies in the region providing world-leading whitelabelled dashboard solutions.
I have worked in software my whole career. I was fortunate to grow up in a family where my mother was at the forefront of Internet and the Cloud technology, when the cloud was called advanced infrastructure provisioning and the Internet was called the information superhighway. I was very much surrounded by computers and technology therefore it was obvious for me to move into this area after I finished my Business Degree. I am a saleswoman at heart, so I’ve always been in more commercial roles and I have sold lots of different software and technology in my career from HR software, to backup and recovery, to database platform and switches.
Panintelligence is a Data Analytics Software Developer based in the UK in Leeds. Their platform is embedded and white-labelled by software vendors, usually in the cloud, to enhance their product’s capabilities around Dashboarding, Reporting, Predicted Analytics. It acts as a seamless component that is embedded within platforms that can be switched on and enable customers with database sites.
Computing power and the ability to do more with less, has accelerated the digitalization and mobile revolution tremendously. The fact that items are being created faster and smaller has helped us to develop products like mobile phones and move infrastructure into hosted environments so that more people can get access to technologies. This has improved what we do and how we go about it, whether that is for a business or for ourselves personally.
We owe these changes to the hardware revolution as it made the way for the digital revolution to happen, and with that the mass adoption of internet technology. From this solid foundation we were able to create technologies that not only change how we work and how our industries work but change how we live. These technologies have raised the bar for society to improve living standards and better quality of life for everyone which is the biggest highlight of the last ten years.
The mass transformation of connected devices has really helped propel Panintelligence because it has enabled more people to participate in software that collects data.
Our business is built on data, and it’s not on our data it is other people’s data, and technology enables that collection. Whether its mobile phones, sensor technology or the Cloud, because more people have access to this technology a huge data explosion has happened. Whilst this creates a bigger problem for companies that have had been inundated with data that they don’t know how to use; it has also created a fantastic opportunity to drive value and change things.
The primary benefit for businesses that are collecting, and have lots of, data is that they know they can find key truths within their data that can signpost them to decisions which will help them to change key outcomes within their area of expertise whether it’s in a Hospital, Education or Business efficiency.
From the perspective of Panintelligence, more data enables us to signpost sectors through data insights. Whether it’s about what is happening today or tomorrow, it enables us to be confident that data is big enough to create predictions that matter and materialise.
So the big data movement, enabled by more connected devices, enabled by faster processing technologies, and the hardware evolution, has brought us to a place where things like Predictive Analytics and AI can actually happen because we have the volume of data that allows confidence and tells us something useful that we trust.
The insights we tend to be predicting vary massively as our software vendors work in a wide range of verticals. This ranges from insights that lend themselves to real societal change all the way to more practical elements around business productivity and efficiency:
We primarily provide predictive maintenance insights, i.e. whether a boiler needs to be fixed or maintained. This can be widely applied for other machine maintenance platforms.
We work with companies to develop loyalty platforms that predict the most successful loyalty intervention that will make somebody come back and spend money again.
This can centre around areas like footfall monitoring. In the last two weeks we have just launched a social distance monitoring platform that uses existing camera technology for footfall monitoring in stores to show how many people are in the store and look at whether or not they could be vulnerable based on facial recognition technology.
This is one of the most valuable insights we have provided as we have provided predictive analytics to the healthcare sector that highlights patients that are most likely not to attend an appointment which has in turn helped drive efficiencies and improve NHS productivity to make sure they’re using the capacity they have properly.
In education we have been predicting students that are most likely to drop out so we can put welfare interventions in place as well as interventions around mental health in education.
I see it as a way of creating a digital version of something that you can then apply lots of different variables to, to see what might happen, whether that’s an engine, a city, a device or even a workspace?
The latter is what I think is the most interesting thing about it within a COVID-19 context. I’m currently doing a full survey of the Panintelligence premises to work out how we reconfigure the office for people to be able to safely social distance and have a flow that ensures that we keep people safe and it’s times like this that I think how useful it would be to have a Digital Twin that could model scenarios of how people work and walk around the building to make sure we’re confident that certain decisions are going to work and there isn’t anything we haven’t overlooked. So, particularly for me, Digital Twins is about being able to present data in a way that models, predicts and forecasts how things might work if you change variables.
The Digital Twin concept is really exciting because it is all about modelling scenarios in a digital environment, which is kind of safe, that allows companies to have lots of outputs that can be analysed.
The ability to present scenarios, outputs, and digital environments in a way that people can understand, interact with, and share with others so that people can confidently make informed decisions on is crucial. You need to communicate to stakeholders quickly and in a simple, universal language, what the risk is and how far they can tolerate a risk or an output. The model helps create an output, the output needs to be understood, and that understanding needs to be communicated, and that’s what a dashboard works in conjunction with a Digital Twin.
Firstly, it would entirely depend on what my software vendor’s market was, and then I would describe it to them in a way that reflected the market they operated in.
A good example is social housing as there is so many aspects to it. I could explain that a Digital Twin of their Asset Register could help them look into the heart of their market and see what could be done different to reduce the cost of their assets or change them for the better.
In the world of social housing there’s also a lot of funding around for reducing the CO2 impact and there’s a lot of assets that could be invested in to do all sorts of different interventions to reduce CO2 outputs and improve the EPC rating. For a client focusing on this I would explain a Digital Twin as a way of digitizing and modelling all these potential interventions, such as solar panels, in order to review how likely each intervention would realistically have an impact and which one is worth investing in.
As a region one of our biggest strengths lies in Healthcare, that is well documented within NHS England and NHS Digital. Big software vendors like Emis and TPP are based here, as well as other educators that are key to the Healthcare market. This opens a lot of opportunities to change the healthcare ecosystem and digitising it across the board, whether that’s Digital Twins, BI or simply better systems and processes.
NHS is the largest employer in the country, and it is one of the biggest importers of goods from overseas. Consequently, there are lots of things that can be digitized and modelled within this space and created into a Digital Twin for their assets. Whether it is machines that are being used in health care, modelling diseases, there is absolutely lots of opportunities across healthcare.
Focusing on Leeds, we now have Tom Riordan heading up the track and trace for the whole of the country, and that strikes me as a real opportunity for taking a map of the city, or the region, and creating a Digital Twin of it that can act as a pilot to be replicated across the whole country.
There is a new program on Amazon called “Upload” that centres around a world where your brain gets uploaded into a virtual world where you can exist in the afterlife. Within that there is some incredibly “Back to the Future” type of scenario modelling of what the world might be like at this point in time and looking further than that.
This idea that we’re all completely comfortable in cars that drive us around and Boris bikes that turn up at your house and then take you to the train station, indicates a wonderful opportunity for the whole of society to be so comfortable with technology that it can just take over some of the tasks that we do on daily basis.
I look at my personal life and my professional life, I think there’s so much stuff I do which I just need to let go of and allow for the digital world take over and be OK with that. Therefore I’d like to think that the most craziest impact in the next 10 years allows us to become more comfortable with technology picking up the work for us and freeing society up to pursue, and do more, of what we like.
A replication of something that you can drive a model or data across.
However, if I put my sales hat on, I would flip it on its head and define it by the problem you are trying to solve rather than what it is. From that perspective I would say: Manage the risk of applying, or investing in, a change by digitally modelling a scenario through a Digital Twin.