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Centre for Digital Built Britain

 

Following the success of the official launch of CDBB’s Digital Twin Hub, Samuel Chorlton, Chair of the DT Hub, considers the possible competencies, skills and cultural changes integral to the successful adoption of digital twins. 

The launch of the DT Hub marks a significant step in the journey towards a National Digital Twin and response from the wider digital twin community has been extremely encouraging – more than 70 new registrations to the online portal were recorded in the 24 hours following the launch. 

While an important step, the work of the DT Hub is part of an ongoing and collaborative process to identify goals and challenges, share insights and learning and shape outcomes as a core part of the evolution of the ecosystem of digital twins that will underpin a digital built Britain. Our first wave DT Hub members helped to identify and explore themes key to establishing the foundational requirements on which aligned digital twin adoption can grow: testing digital twin concepts and, more recently, considering the competencies, skills and cultural changes to help organisations be ready to optimise value from digital twins to enable growth at all scales. 

The DT Hub digital community works together to explore and better understand the complexities, challenges and opportunities for organisations adopting digital twins. The process of collaborating with a shared vision is of equal importance to our community as the outcomes; no one organisation has all the answers and the DT Hub supports members to lay foundations of best practice and develop agreement on shaping the standard for connecting built environment digital twins to realise whole-life value.  

Exploring competencies, skills and cultural changes requires understanding how digital twins will be used in organisations, who will be engaging with them and for what ends; not everybody will be interacting with digital twins in the same way or for the same purposes. Asking these questions will in turn help identify the roles and skills required to successfully adopt and secure full efficiencies and value at departmental and organisational level. Digital change is already happening across the built environment and each organisation will need to consider what will create the greatest value, where gaps lie, and what interventions are needed to enable people to engage productively with digital twins. 

Building capacity within our organisations and establishing line of sight to the destination is essential in establishing competencies, skills and changes integral to the successful adoption of digital twins. Enabling the people in our organisations to be part of digital transformation from the start may pay dividends as we develop the tools and the skills to engage with digital twins. Our current lockdown situation arising from the Covid-19 pandemic has required individuals and organisations to adjust; some organisations were poorly prepared while others have flourished. We should endeavour to learn from the changes and challenges experienced to build resilience and agility to respond to the greater challenges which lie ahead.

Establishing organisational objectives and aligning digital strategy is key to optimising digital twin value. While these will differ among organisations, there is opportunity to share common principles and framework to develop digital twins together, securing value at all scales and enabling the ambition of a National Digital Twin.  

The DT Hub is a place where conversations begin and develop. Our content is merely a starting point from which members can ask questions and provide perspectives; establish ideas that resonate and experiences worth sharing.  We will look further afield to secure lessons from other sectors, including aerospace and manufacturing.

The changes taking place will require skills, knowledge and experience not yet widespread within construction and built environment organisations. If the industry does not develop these from within, it will create opportunities for new entrants from other sectors, both for individuals and organisations. 

Value from digital twins is a certainty, but the journey to realising the prize brings uncertainties. This new landscape is unfamiliar and might lead to options and outcomes we have not yet considered – but what happens on this journey is driven by you.  

We have been thrilled by the incredible demand and interest in the DT Hub following the launch on March 31st.  To ensure members to get the most benefit out of the Hub we are currently growing the membership in phases, speaking with members to learn more about where they are on their digital journey before admitting them into the Hub. This has meant there has been a wait, taking six to eight weeks to process applications.

If you are still waiting, thank you for your patience, and we look forward to seeing you in the Hub very soon. In the meantime we are working hard to create public content and events, such as the DT Talks, where everyone can take part.