Why do you need a Digital Twin?

5 min. Read

The FANG companies are winning the hearts of the customer, big time. All because they’re providing them with the best customer experience compared to other brands they interact with.


In the Great Competitive Paradox story, we mentioned the concept of the Digital Twin.  We described how the FANG companies create a digital profile that represents part of the real customer. They use this profile in order to engage in a more individual way, creating a highly personalized customer experience that in turn leads to a magnetic, sticky attraction to their brand. The FANG companies have set the bar for personalized customer experience, leaving marketers in a constant race to keep up with customer expectations and needs.

Why do you need a digital twin?

To meet customer demands’ and expectations; and because we know the key lies in us successfully connecting with a customer at an individual level. There’s this concept of “twin telepathy” where twins not only share the genetic make-up, but some have also reported knowing what the other is thinking. Taking that theory into consideration, it’s safe to assume that if you have a digital copy of your consumer, you would be able to predict, infer and know them inside out – just like how twins have a “sixth sense” of one another.

Today, the Marketing world relies heavily on metrics. Every interaction with the customer theoretically can and should be measured to create a 360 degree profile of the end customer. The problem is that often the ‘profile’ that is built is not exactly an accurate representation of the customer. Why not? Because the customer profile information is usually aggregated or has details missing, resulting in poor segmentations and inaccurate information of the end customer.

The FANG companies have been praised for great customer experiences, and the key lies in their ability to create a digital twin of their customers, allowing them to process customer information and behaviors in near real-time.

Forbes (2018) describes a digital twin as a representation of a process, produce or service. In our world, a digital twin is an evolving digital profile of a customer shaped by their past and current behavior. Based on cumulative and near real-time data from different sources, these measurements create an individual customer profile with important insights to optimize customer experience.

The need for a digital twin to represent your customers enables you to bridge the gap between the physical and digital world. With a digital twin, you’re able to know about all your customers in near real-time. Data can be gathered, consolidated and analyzed against other contextual data (e.g. CRM data, billing data, network data) simultaneously to optimize business response time.

Without going into too much detail, here’s a simplified view of how a digital twin is created. 

The “physical world”, in this case, your CRM, billing and network data, are given sensory attributes and included in mathematical models that simulate the “physical world” in a digital space. These models then receive input from the sensors gathering data to construct a digital twin, gathering data from a physical world counterpart. Simulating the physical world in real-time, the twin is used to offer insights, allowing you to predict, know and act on actions that are being performed in real-time. Like a reflex reaction in our physical body, the digital twin can act as a pathway that controls this.  According to Forrester (2017), Telcos should want this, so they can present their customers with solutions to problems that they probably aren’t even aware of yet, increasing their chances of getting chosen as the customer’s brand of choice.

In theory, if you can create a digital twin just as the FANG companies do, you should be able to create a seamless and personalized customer experience just like them. However, the process of creating a digital twin isn’t as simple as assigning sensory attributes and automatically you have a simulation of the physical customer in front of you. These models need to be built by specialists; data scientists who will need ample time to test, wrangle and finally productionise the model to make sure your digital twin is the correct representation of the consumer. But how many of these data scientists will you need?

Whilst we look at the FANG companies as the ultimate bar to reach, even they get it wrong sometimes. How many times have you been targeted with ads of items that you’ve previously bought on Amazon? Or seen an ad on your Instagram account that is completely unrelated to you? Why?

“Standard data fed into machines were only 50% accurate, which means information driving marketing decision equally imprecise” (Forbes, 2018)

We’re seeing that a lot of marketing decisions are inaccurate because of the data that is being fed to them. It’s no use surfacing insights with the wrong data or not having enough data to begin with. Just like playing Jenga, the strategy is to have a solid foundation at the base so it doesn’t fall and crumble, but if you’re surfacing insights with little to no information, chances of your building crumbling down to pieces are highly likely. If you’re wondering what kind of information you may be missing to build a solid foundation to your building blocks, check out our guide about the things you need to know about your customers, to achieve hyper-personalisation.

This is the foundation for your digital twin, which is why you will need a better way of consolidating all your customer data, added with other data machines to get the right insights for better personalisation. This exercise can be a long one as described in McKinsey’s article of the 5 key building blocks to build a successful digital and analytics DNA within Telcos. Though a long process, this seems like it’s something that Telcos will need to endure to take back wallet share from the FANG companies, and win the hearts of the customer.

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