The Autodesk Tandem team has just launched their Customer Research Program. This is the perfect way to engage with the Tandem team and let them know what features you might need from your future digital twin infrastructure. In particular, if you’re interested in seeing features from Project Dasher show up inside Tandem – via what I referred to in a recent post as “Dasher inside Tandem” – then this is your chance to be heard.
Related to this topic, I came across a funny meme recently on Twitter. I couldn’t find it again, so here’s my attempt at reproducing it:
(If someone can remember who posted the original, please let me know: I hate plagiarising without credit, but honestly I can’t remember who posted it and my web searches didn’t uncover it, either.)
It makes the point that people often say they want “digital twins”, but aren’t always fully clear on why they want them or what they want to do with them. This is at least partly (perhaps mainly?) due to vendors having wildly varying definitions of what a digital twin is. So it ends up being subjective: people read what they want to into the term.
For instance, I’ve seen the term digital twin used to describe glorified spreadsheets, simulation-based predictive systems, and many other varied types of system. All are justifiably digital twins – depending on your definition – but this diversity of offering can be confusing to potential customers (and even to technologists!).
The Digital Twin Consortium did a good job of defining the term, late least year:
A digital twin is a virtual representation of real-world entities and processes, synchronized at a specified frequency and fidelity.
- Digital twin systems transform business by accelerating holistic understanding, optimal decision-making, and effective action.
- Digital twins use real-time and historical data to represent the past and present and simulate predicted futures.
- Digital twins are motivated by outcomes, tailored to use cases, powered by integration, built on data, guided by domain knowledge, and implemented in IT/OT systems.
For the longest time we specifically avoided talking about Dasher as a digital twin. Mainly because there were aspects of what we felt a digital twin could/should do that we didn’t, particularly with respect to effecting change in the physical world via control systems but also the integration of predictive capabilities. We still prefer to call Dasher a “building debugger” (or perhaps now a “systems debugger”, as it’s also being used for bridges, etc., although frankly that’s probably too broad and confusing a term), as that relates very clearly to the intended use-case.
Here's a slide from an old presentation deck of ours that should give a sense for how we've always seen Dasher.
To some degree Autodesk Tandem also currently suffers from not fitting the above definition as it lacks the connection to real-time and historical data. That’s not unreasonable, though, in that the product is seen as being at an early stage on the maturity continuum described neatly last year by Verdantix.
Right now Tandem is a “descriptive” twin – which provides a live, editable version of your design and construction data, curated into an asset information model that’s tailored to the needs of owner/operators. The product team has the clear intention – it’s high up on the list of potential features on the product roadmap – for Tandem to become an “informative” twin, with access to operational and sensor data. At the next stage in the maturity progression – with a “predictive” twin – operational data is leveraged to deliver insights. “Comprehensive” twins harness the power of simulation to explore what-if scenarios, while “autonomous” twins can learn and act on behalf of users. To the right of that is Skynet (I’m kidding).
It remains to be seen where the right place is for Tandem to end up; each maturity level clearly requires a greater level of process maturity but also has the potential to deliver more business value. It's going to be an interesting journey, for sure.
Anyway, all this is to say that the specifics of what Tandem delivers as it continues upwards and to the right is very much open for discussion and steerage. From what I can tell the Tandem team is going about things the right way, and looking to deliver value – by addressing real-world use-cases – as they progress the offering: while the focus so far has been on helping with digital handover of buildings, integration of sensor data is high on the list they’re looking at now.
So… if you care about operational and sensor data being integrated into the Tandem platform – perhaps via your favourite Dasher features, hint-hint – then please do join the Tandem Customer Research Program today. The team will be hosting a series of live sessions over the remainder of the year for members of the research program to participate in and to have their voices heard.