Congratulations! It's a digital twin — with a very large extended family

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It's a digital twin -- with a large extended family.

Recently, I was at a large family dinner when I began thinking about supply chain. There sat many generations of my family — fathers, sisters, nieces, nephews, brothers-in-law and more — all of whom were telling stories from the past and explaining what was upcoming. “Remember when we would spend Christmas Eve with our cousins?” my sister said. “I can’t wait for my 21st birthday in February! Who’s coming with me to Vegas?” my nephew was asking. Just like every other family, we were reminiscing and sharing experiences, both past and present.

As I was thinking about the vast amount of knowledge that was spread during family gatherings and how many other families share the same stories, it dawned on me not only how important these events are but also how the digital twin construct in supply chain is similar. The digital twin of your supply chain shouldn’t live in isolation and it should be limitless. Here are three key points on how you should think of your digital twin as you would your family during an event:

Your digital twin should connect the extended family

When I looked around the room during our dinner, it occurred to me that we all entered this family at some point in time whether it be through birth, marriage or friendship. Would it make sense for all of us to not interact, given our different origins? Your digital twin should be able to explain the differences not just between your plan and a proposed plan, but with any number of children, grand-children, great-grandchildren—all of them should be connected. There should be no limit to understanding differences between generations or cut offs for introducing another member to the digital extended family.

Your digital twin should be able to include ancestors

Just as I was listening to minor tidbits of stories and even medical histories of distant relatives, it dawned on me that it’s important for your digital twin to be able to have a record of the past. Every year I seem to learn about a distant relative that I may not have known – a funny story about how they used to be a pilot or even maybe how another passed away before I was even born. Sharing great memories, or even how something may not have ended well, is very important in families. Your supply chain digital twin should also be able to answer those questions. What production has changed between last week and this week? What demand has changed between last month and this month? All of these types of questions should be handled within your digital platform.

Your digital twin should be able to get real time answers to questions

My nephew was asking, “How much are tickets to Las Vegas” and when the result was too expensive, he was able to ask a follow up question, “What if we left on Sunday instead to get a lower airfare cost? What does that do to the hotel cost?” All of this was done on smartphones, and he got instant feedback. Your digital supply chain should also be able to ask any sort of questions and get instant feedback. What does this forecast change at a product family level do to the customer service rate? What if this supplier went down as a result of a hurricane? Your digital supply chain should be able to get full re-plans on volume and financial KPIs to help you understand trade-offs.

And with that, I now am reminded I need to book a ticket to Las Vegas to celebrate my nephew’s birthday!


- February 25, 2020 at 10:49am
Great analogy...
Dominic Thomas
- May 08, 2020 at 9:26am
Great context Tom.

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