KEY TAKE-AWAYS

  • How to lead digital change from the top

  • The fundamentals of effective change management

  • What it takes to secure digital twin buy-in at all levels 

  • How to let your team unleash the maximum potential of digital twins

Build your vision, then take small steps

Regardless of the technology or change you’re trying to implement, if the people that need to engage with that technology aren’t convinced of its value – both to them and the organisation – there’s a very strong possibility your project will fail.

That in itself presents a significant challenge. The first step to get your team on board with the change you’re planning is to show them your vision – paint a clear picture of the better, smarter ways of working that your new tools will enable.

But, if that vision is too broad, the sheer scale of change you’re illustrating can easily become overwhelming. That’s particularly relevant in water management, where in many cases small expert teams have been working the same way in the same roles for decades, becoming highly reluctant to change.

The key to success is building a long-term vision for implementing the digital twin concept, while clearly breaking down the roadmap to make that vision a reality. Demonstrate that there’s a journey that needs to happen before your vision is realised, and make each step in that journey feel manageable and value-adding. 

Developing your vision and roadmap

Both your overall vision and the roadmap you create to get there must be clearly defined and communicated. An abstract idea of them is not enough. 

In practice, your vision and roadmap are two very different concepts. But, there are a number of principles that should be followed when creating both, to ensure they deliver on their intended purpose and support a project that delivers the right results.

Principle #1: Remember that digital twins are a means to an end

When planning and scoping any technology project, it’s easy to forget that your end goal is to empower people – not just get the tech implemented and running. As projects progress, it’s all too easy for them to shift in focus and fail to deliver their original intended benefits.

Defining the intended user and process impacts of your digital twins will help keep your project focused, and ensure that when it’s done, it delivers exactly what you wanted it to at the beginning. 

Principle #2: Consider employee needs at every stage of the roadmap

Every step of your digital twin roadmap can represent a significant change for the people in your organisation. On paper these may look like small process tweaks, but they can quickly lead to team members feeling overwhelmed, lost and confused about their roles.

Making each step small is a great start. But, even with a steady, iterative roadmap in place, employees must be carefully guided through every change – ensuring they can adapt to each one fully before you introduce further changes to how they work. 

Principle #3: Keep architecture in focus as you develop

There are lots of different tools and platforms that can be used to develop digital twins – and the best are created using a variety of exciting and promising new technologies. But, it’s important to keep your technology footprint manageable.

If you don’t carefully plan what you want your technical architecture to look like at the end of the project, you can easily end up with an unmanageable patchwork of solutions, tools and technologies – limiting the long-term value your digital twins can deliver.

Redefine ‘answerable’

Digital twins enable you and your team to ask new questions about water management processes, model potential changes before they happen, and gain a deeper understanding of your operations and the conditions you’re exposed to than ever before.

But, digital twins can only answer the questions they’re asked. To get the most from them, your team must change the way they think – adopting an experimental mindset that’s always questioning the current state of operations and exploring how things could be improved.

Chances are, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of ‘what if’ questions that your team has learned not to ask, simply because in the past they haven’t been answerable. With digital twins in place, they must redefine what’s answerable, and dust off the important questions they’ve wanted to ask for decades.

Plan now. Reap the rewards for years.

At its core, implementing digital twins is all about effective planning. With a clear holistic vision of what you want to achieve in the long term, and a detailed roadmap of how you want to achieve it, there’s no reason why your digital twin projects shouldn’t be a success.

But, it’s important to keep your people and your architecture in mind at every stage of the process. By guiding your team through changes and keeping your new technologies manageable, you’ll give your organisation the best possible chance of seeing high, long-term ROI from its digital twins.

It’s a concept covered in detail in the whitepaper Digital Twins for Wastewater Infrastructure. It explores what water management teams must do to unlock the full value of digital twins – and the huge benefits of taking an iterative, well-planned approach to digital twin adoption.

Download the paper now and make sure that the first steps in your digital twin journey are ones that set you on the path to long-term success.

Digital Twins for Wastewater Infrastructure 

Discover the vital role digital twins will play in the future of wastewater management.