What is Digital Twin in IoT?

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategist

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a massive concept. For most companies, it’s easier to contextualize it against the framework of their facilities. Smart buildings include sensors, beacons, and hubs—all of which capture data and facilitate automation. There’s also the software and processes that connect these data streams to action. And while most of this is easy to contextualize, where many companies get lost is with the introduction of digital twins.

What is digital twin in IoT? In simplest terms, it’s the place where all the data from IoT devices comes together. In an age of de-siloed workplace data, the digital twin is where data from across the workplace flows freely together. It gives companies and accurate, relevant, realistic picture of their facilities, through the eyes of IoT data streams.

What is digital twin technology?

Digital twins are a digital representation of the physical workplace and everything in it. What makes them useful is their dynamism, thanks to the IoT. The best way to explain the digital twin is akin to a data lake.

Picture a motion sensor in a conference room. When someone triggers the sensor and it sends a signal, where does that signal go? For companies with a digital twin, it connects to the corresponding part of the building on the digital model. If that motion sensor detects movement, it triggers the I/O signal, which appears as “occupied” on the digital twin.

But that’s only one half of the digital twin’s usefulness.

Now, consider the activity-facing aspect of that data. If Malik, Roberta, and Miriam need to book space, they’ll log into the building’s space reservation system. That system ties into the digital twin as well—only instead of pushing data to the twin, it pulls data from it. The room with the active motion sensor shows as occupied in the digital twin, which means the booking software won’t show it as an option for the group.

Digital twins are an intermediary that connects the many inputs of workplace data to the many applications companies have for it. It goes beyond desk booking, too. Digital twins and the data they de-silo are useful for everything from asset maintenance to space optimization.

How digital twins simplifies IoT

The role of a digital twin in simplifying the IoT is invaluable for companies—especially as they build out their network of data-producing connected devices. The more data streams there are, the more insights about the workplace there are. The only problem is that all these streams need to point somewhere to be accessible. That destination is increasingly becoming a digital twin.

Digital twins act as both a repository for data and a place to contextualize it. Because connected data maps to the same digital destination as its physical counterpart, there’s inherent order and structure in a twin. And, because everything points to the same place (the twin), it’s easy to integrate software, apps, and processes to the same repository to deploy that data. Instead of multiple sources of data, digital twins are a source of truth: a true representation of de-siloed workplace data.

Many sources feed into a digital twin. Many sources pull from it. At the center of everything is one, complete repository for data. There’s no better way to simplify the increasingly more complex nature of the office IoT.

The role of digital twin software

If the digital twin manages the ebb and flow of workplace data, who manages the digital twin? That task falls to facility managers, asset managers, and other facility-focused professionals. To get a handle on digital twins and their exponential capabilities, companies need to invest in high-quality digital twin software and the training that enables utilization of it.

Digital twin software makes accessing and integrating systems with the twin easier. On the data collection side, it establishes the protocol for accepting IoT sensor data and contextualizes that trigger. On the data access side, it makes data freely available to flow into connected apps, programs, and processes. In the middle, when it comes to the de-siloed data itself, digital twin software needs to provide information modeling personnel with a 1,000-foot view of facilities and everything happening in them—in real-time, if possible.

The unequivocal role of digital twin software is to bridge the gap between form and function, intention and execution. It collects data from the workplace and makes it accessible for data-driven decision-making across the spectrum of facilities management.

Digital twins anchor the IoT

With the IoT growing larger and more complex for businesses, digital twins are only growing more important. They’re the anchor for sensors and beacons. They’re the repository for de-siloed data. They’re the backbone for workplace management systems. Without digital twins, the IoT involves a lot more networking between points of data origin and points of data use. Just like your workplace brings the company together, digital twins centralize all its data.

Keep reading: Digital Twins: A Revolution in Workplace Management

Blog Workplace Thought Leadership

Managing Assets in the Modern Workplace 

By Nick Stefanidakis
General Manager, Archibus

Look around your office, school, factory, or hospital. What do you see? Desks, chairs, computers, machinery, building systems, office equipment, supplies. All the things that make a business, educational institution, or healthcare facility run. Without them, there would be no products, services, classes, or emergency care.

Everything that occupies space is an asset. Though often taken for granted as part of a “normal” workday, each asset must be monitored, maintained, repaired, upgraded or replaced on a specific schedule. A robust asset management plan is an essential part of your broader workplace or space management strategy.

Asset Management Defined

Assets are defined as anything that brings value to an organization and are generally grouped into three categories:

  • Facility: Mechanical, HVAC, conveyance, elevators, lighting, plumbing,, landscaping,  etc.
  • Personnel: Badges, personal protective equipment, communication devices, vehicles, etc.
  • IT/Office: Desktop computers, laptops, printers, copiers, software licenses, etc.

The main goal of asset management is to get the greatest amount of value out of every asset while reducing the overall lifecycle cost of each item. Such focus can reap big rewards. First National of Nebraska Inc., the largest, privately owned U.S. banking company, showed a $120,000 annual gain in operating efficiencies via better asset and facility management.

A good asset management plan helps you plan for the future and make data-driven decisions. By accounting for factors such as replacement, repair costs, resale value, criticality, life expectancies, policies and procedures, efficiencies, and workload, it’s much easier to make informed decisions that can save time and money.

The Benefits of Asset Management

Effective asset management can impact an entire organization. Knowing what assets you have, where they are located and used, their condition and current value provides insights on required maintenance plans, repair costs, and budgets.

For example, understanding how much your organization’s computers cost, how old they are, how long they are expected to last, their repair and upgrade histories, and associated downtime costs when they aren’t working, it’s much easier to do a cost/benefit analysis to determine whether to repair or replace the equipment.

Asset management planning helps:

  • Improve ROI by providing a common operating picture that aligns assets to an organization’s objectives
  • Plan what-if scenarios to optimize enterprise asset investments
  • Empower asset management teams to accomplish their goals with coordinated end-to-end resourcing
  • Optimize capital and other asset investments through integrated life cycle management for planning, acquisition, utilization, repurposing, and decommissioning/disposal
  • Enable staff to quickly inventory assets with mobile apps

Asset Management Plan Elements 

Creating an effective management plan is all in the details. Computer updates are different than furniture replacement or HVAC maintenance. Your asset management plan should cover five essential steps:

  1. Take inventory: The asset inventory should include equipment inside and outside your building. At the same time, gather as much information about the assets as possible: primary user(s), location, manufacturer information, serial numbers, warranties, condition, service histories, etc.
  2. Determine costs: Each asset has costs for its entire life cycle, not just what you spent on them. Budget for overall lifespan for each asset, maintenance, upgrades, and disposal.
  3. Set service levels: Do laptops need annual security upgrades? How often should the printer be cleaned? Clearly state the unique needs of each asset, then ensure the defined service level meets the needs of the primary users: your employees.
  4. Think proactively: Staying ahead of problems will save money in the long run. Base service levels on keeping assets in prime condition until it is time to replace them.
  5. Plan for the future: Look down the road for times where asset improvements will be needed. Then, set aside budget to meet those needs.

Asset Management During a Crisis 

Proactive planning shines the most during a crisis. COVID-19 shut entire economies down for weeks on end. Though office doors, showrooms, manufacturing floors, and schools may have been shuttered, maintenance and upkeep of the assets within them did not pause. Once employees and students migrate back to work and school, they expect computers, air conditioning, lighting, and other elements to still be operational. That is where an asset management plan is key. Knowing what needs to be done allows for faster decision-making regardless of a crisis.

Some assets require regular maintenance regardless of social or economic disruptions. But a crisis like COVID-19 may alter how and when service is done.

Here are a few things to consider if you are forced to modify your asset management plan:

  • Use: Are your assets used more or less during a crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic? Does this affect typical wear and asset life cycles?
  • Locations: If the number of employees working remotely has changed, do you have a plan to keep track of equipment locations?
  • Equipment purchase/sale: Have your real estate plans changed along with the number of employees using the building? Do you have a plan to manage your assets if you relocate or sell quickly?
  • Maintenance: During an emergency, which equipment is most important to maintain on a regular basis? Are there some which are less essential?

Think Ahead, But Be Flexible 

You can’t anticipate every contingency or emergency, but it’s important to remain flexible with your asset management plan. As COVID-19 or other crises change the way workplaces operate, businesses and schools must adapt their space management plans to meet each challenge.

An Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) is a powerful solution that helps you make adjustments when changes must be made quickly and on a large scale. Archibus Asset Management provides an integrated view of all assets, including properties, buildings, land, structures, equipment, and furniture.

Keep Reading: How to use an IWMS for asset management


Leveraging Hoteling Software into a More Efficient Workplace

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategist

While it hasn’t closed the door completely on the open office floor plan, COVID-19 has certainly changed the way it’s managed. Over the course of an arduous year, we’ve evolved from free-assign workspaces to hoteling concepts—for the better. Hoteling is the next evolution of free-assign in open office environments. It gives employees the choice and variety of workspace they deserve, while affording managers the oversight and control they need to keep the workplace organized.

Hoteling software has been a key driver in the agility many companies harnessed to shift workplace structure during the pandemic. The ability to orchestrate, oversee, and even optimize hoteling concepts has been instrumental in the back to work strategies of many companies. Even beyond that, it’s opened the door to more efficient workplace utilization in the future.

The key benefits of hoteling software

Hoteling software both enables and supports the hoteling concept. While it’s possible to create a hoteling system without software, it’s simply not practical. Likewise, software offers the scalability to execute hoteling in real time. This creates a continuum of efficient workspace utilization. There’s always a consistent ebb and flow of occupied and unoccupied desks, and employees searching for or using them.

The key benefits of hoteling software are simple enough—but together, they comprise a highly efficient and nuanced system that makes this real-time desking strategy possible:

  • See open or occupied workstations in real-time
  • Book desks in real-time or reserve a future time slot
  • Review utilization, occupancy, or vacancy metrics
  • Identify utilization trends, such as by date, time, or person
  • Integrate with booking inputs to make the workplace more accessible

There are numerous functions that make hoteling software important—both on the surface and behind the scenes.

For employees, it removes the barriers to workspace selection. They can quickly search, identify, book, and use space throughout the workplace, conducive to their agenda at the time.

For space managers, the inputs and data from a hoteling system lead to insights and opportunities. They can identify when, where, how, and why employees use spaces, then use this data to create a more employee-friendly landscape of workstations.

Both sides of the software add up to a more efficient workplace. Employees get the spaces they need to be productive, and space managers reduce the number of barriers standing between employees and that productivity.

Hoteling software solutions aren’t alike

The more robust the hoteling system, the more capabilities and benefits it offers. This is to say that not all hoteling software is created equal. A basic framework for booking desks might be helpful in expanding workspace horizons to employees—but if it doesn’t offer trend or utilization reports, it’s less useful than software that does.

The same goes for features and integrations. Broad interconnectivity between software and processes makes hoteling more efficient for companies and employees. The ability to reserve a space through Slack using a simple “/reserve” command is worlds easier than logging into a web portal to do the same thing. It’s another barrier removed. This is also why companies need to invest in software with versatile features:

  • The ability to search by desk type or room occupancy
  • The ability to book now or reserve space in the future
  • Software with directory integrations, to locate coworkers
  • The ability to delineate groups and control reservation types
  • Platforms that offer information about specific hotel seats

Hoteling software needs to support the hoteling infrastructure, as well as the needs of the people using it. Look for software that removes barriers to booking, makes it easy for employees to get what they need, and supports facility managers with back-end integrations and information.

Hoteling in a post-COVID-19 workplace

The right hoteling software unlocks a world of opportunity for companies—especially in a post-COVID-19 work environment. To understand why, remember the many groups now present within the workplace:

  • Remote workers who rarely, if ever, come into the office
  • On-site workers who’ve resumed a traditional schedule
  • Staggered shift workers, meant to avoid overoccupancy
  • Visitors slowly easing back into in-person business

Supporting these different groups (and their subgroups) means having a desking system that supports their work styles. Moreover, it means supporting a degree of uncertainty. The number of seats many companies have no longer equals the number of employees they have. Hoteling brings order to this juggling act and helps companies manage demand for seating on a given day, or even within a given hour.

The flexibility of hoteling and the support of hoteling software puts companies in control of their workplace—and it does so in an efficient way. It completes the balancing act of different work groups, workstation needs, and desk availability. In doing so, it unlocks efficiency in workplaces that, before COVID-19, might’ve had trouble pivoting to swings in demand.

The next phase of the evolving office

Hoteling has proven itself not only a pivot concept for COVID-19, but a viable strategy for offices moving forward. As flex work and agile habits cement themselves as the future of work, hoteling is the framework that best supports them. Companies with hoteling software will find themselves better-able to adapt the office to the needs of employees and make sure everyone has a seat—no matter how they work.

It’s vital to remember that hoteling software in and of itself doesn’t guarantee success. It should support a well-thought-out hoteling strategy and the willingness of workplace managers to make hoteling the new standard for workspace utilization. Hoteling has the power to create a more efficient workplace; hoteling software is the means of monitoring and proving this efficiency—and continuing to adapt to changing employee needs.

Keep Reading: A Quick Guide to Office Hoteling Best Practices


The Purpose of Digital Twins in Construction

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist

Many businesses these days are building digital twins of their facilities, to better monitor and manage everything from space to assets. What they might not realize is that a digital twin already exists. Digital twins in construction are becoming prevalent in the development and construction phases of a building, because they show the project on a dynamic plane. It speaks to the essential nature of digital building information throughout the life cycle of a property: from its earliest build stages to its continued evolution as a workplace.

The term “digital twin” can have different context depending on how it’s used. In facility management, digital twins help with space allocation and asset management. During construction, they serve an entirely different purpose altogether: one that stays true to the design of the building.


What is a digital twin in construction?

Digital twins are virtual creations of a building. Unlike Building Information Modeling (BIM) diagrams, which show its many systems and subsystems, digital twins show space. Where BIM focuses on how the building’s constructed, digital twins focus on how people will use the space. Tradespeople and builders typically rely on BIM during the design-build construction process.

Digital twins come into play as the construction project nears culmination—as digital systems come online. Where BIM manages the dynamic systems that go into a large building project, digital twins serve as the foundation for its assets and utilization. When a 20’ x 16’ space becomes a conference room with full AV capabilities, the digital twin becomes the framework to manage and optimize it.

Why is digital twin important in construction?

The purpose of digital twins in construction is to bridge the gap between form and function. On paper, in a blueprint, a space is a series of measurements. During construction, it’s part of a broader structure. When it comes time to designate purpose for that space, planners need foresight. Who will use it? What will they use it for? What assets will live there? The digital twin catalogs this information.

Because a digital twin continues to be useful after the construction process, it’s also a bridge from the design to the management of a building. For example, a smart building will include robust connected tech as part of the construction phase. Those systems link to the digital twin, which allows space managers to oversee them as part of the tenant’s tech stack. Further connectivity with Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) turns the digital twin into a source of truth for space governance and asset management.

Examples of digital twin construction

The roles of digital twin construction are many. It’s an asset management tool. A safety planning tool. A space optimization tool. A tool to improve employee experience. Because it’s linked to spaces, assets, and the people who use them, a digital twin realizes the concepts put into a building’s design and makes them real. Here’s a look at some examples:

  • “What if” analysis of safety systems and emergency action plans
  • Asset performance optimization through use monitoring
  • Reduction of construction and operating costs during renovations
  • Productivity and collaboration improvements through space delegation

Digital twins possess the context from construction and the practicality demanded by workplace management systems to ensure form meets function. This is especially important in dynamic workplaces, where demands for space are different than the original concepts of the building. Through a digital twin, space managers can take the parameters of building design and adapt them to the context of space demands. It’s the final, integral phase of building construction.

CRE needs to embrace digital twins

The clear and obvious benefits of BIM in construction have led to a widespread rise in reliance on this technology for complex building projects. Now, facility management is realizing these same benefits in digital twins. Like construction teams need a holistic view of mission-critical systems to streamline the build, facility managers need similar insights to optimize workplace utilization.

The gap from BIM to a digital twin isn’t a large one. Both are vital to the design and execution of a building. They represent the duality of commercial buildings: their shape and structure, as well as their function and purpose. They’re both essential tools in the age of smart building design, maintenance, and management.

The good news for many facility managers is that a digital twin of their building may already exist somewhere. Whether they get it from the developer, the construction management firm, or create it themselves, it’s becoming more important to lean on a digital twin for physical space governance.

Keep Reading: What is BIM in Facilities Management?

demo spaceiq


Where to Take a Real Estate Portfolio Management Course 

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist

Knowledge is power, especially for professions in industries going through change. Right now, corporate real estate is a prime example. The COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t kind to corporate real estate. Many companies are reevaluating the way they manage their portfolio of properties. It’s a good time for corporate real estate professionals new and experienced alike to take a remedial real estate portfolio management course.

Short of going back to college to audit a few classes, many professionals aren’t always sure of where to get the formal education they need to stay on-trend in their profession. Thankfully, there are many great opportunities to learn from accredited bodies and reputable organizations. Often, many corporate real estate professionals are already members of an organization that offers such opportunities.

What is portfolio management in real estate?

Real estate portfolio management is the oversight and management of a company’s real estate holdings. It’s a concept prevalent in companies that both own and lease real estate across multiple buildings—in a portfolio. The goal is to maintain a clear picture of each property as a cost center and a revenue stream, and to understand their effect on the success of the company.

For example, XYZ Company might own two office buildings and lease 40,000 square feet of space across five other properties. The goal of portfolio management is to visualize these spaces in terms of metrics. What is their cost of operation? What revenue do they account for? More importantly: is their cost justified?

The job of a commercial real estate portfolio manager is to maximize the return on investment of the properties in a portfolio. Often, it means making financial decisions about whether to lease, buy, improve, divest, or maintain real estate holdings.

Where to take courses and learn

Industry governance organizations are the best source for continuing education or professional development. In corporate real estate, that means organizations like the Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA), the National Property Managers Association (NPMA), and the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). These organizations are on the cutting edge of industry. They offer everything from trend insights, to data and analysis, to resources for practicing professionals. Above all, they’re a source for education.

IREM in particular is an authority for those who seek real estate portfolio management skills. The organization offers accreditations such as a Certified Property Manager (CPM) and Accredited Commercial Manager (ACoM). These designations contribute to a larger career in portfolio management.

For those who prefer the institutional track, many universities offer courses and programs specific to commercial real estate. Typically, these are certificate programs with a focus on real estate asset management or commercial real estate investment.

Get certified for real estate portfolio management

Certification distinguishes professionals, especially in portfolio management. Companies want to know the person they’re entrusting their portfolio with understands the full spectrum of asset management. As a result, most professional development programs teach fundamentals, as well as macro concepts. Some examples include:

Programs like these range from granular focus on topics like real estate accounting, to broader concepts on the whole of asset management. They’re useful for property professionals who are moving into a management position, as well as those moving laterally from areas like finance or operations management.

Certification from any of these programs signals proficiency in the fundamentals of real estate portfolio management. It’s a signal to companies that a person understands the role of CRE assets in the broader context of the company.

Portfolio vs. asset management

There’s often a question of portfolio management vs. real estate asset management. In truth, it’s largely semantic. Commercial real estate is an asset, and managers oversee multiple assets within a portfolio. Portfolio management is the collective management of a company’s total real estate assets. Asset management is usually singular, in reference to one specific building.

Prioritize ongoing education

An industry shift isn’t the only reason to take continuing education courses for corporate real estate. The landscape of commercial real estate management is one that’s always in flux, which means professionals need to keep their knowledge current.

With the hybrid workplace, remote work, and distributed teams all solidifying themselves as mainstays in corporate real estate policy, portfolio changes seem inevitable. Managers who take a real estate portfolio management course that discusses these trends will be better-equipped to deal with them.

Keep Reading: What is Real Estate Asset Management?


The Pros and Cons of Hybrid Workplaces

By Devon Maresco
Content Strategy Specialist

In the same way open offices and coworking did before it, the concept of hybrid workplaces has changed how people work. Just like these past revolutionary work concepts, it’s important we take the time to assess the pros and cons of hybrid workplaces. As they gain momentum companies and their employees need to understand the benefits, drawbacks, opportunities, and pitfalls associated with this new form of work.

high performing workplace tips

A recap of hybrid workspaces

A hybrid workplace consists of both in-house employees and remote workers who work together as a distributed team. The hybrid workspace can take many forms as it pertains to a physical space. For example, many businesses adopted a hoteling model to accommodate an unknown daily capacity of in-house employees. Other companies evolved into more agile work environments that allow in-house workers to more easily adapt different workspaces based on their needs.

The advantages and disadvantages of the hybrid work model come from not only the structure of the workplace itself, but in how remote and on-site employees collaborate. While these solutions can vary across companies, the fundamentals of a hybrid model remain the same. Let’s look at the pros and cons.

The positives powering hybrid work

As you might expect from a new work model that’s quickly defined the professional landscape, there’s a lot to love about hybrid work. The benefits of hybrid work are many, for both employees and employers alike.

For employees, the biggest benefit of hybrid work is flexibility. Whether they work in-house, from home, or split their time between the two, a hybrid workplace supports them. It’s meant to bridge all gaps between different work styles, so a person can accomplish their job regardless of setting. This is especially important for companies scheduling on rolling shifts.

This seamless working experience goes all the way down to the workspace level. Hybrid work demands workspaces as flexible as the concept. Hotel desks, hot desks, breakout spaces, and the like are all essential in a supportive hybrid workplace. More than keeping the concept functional, they further promote employees to work in the fashion that best fits their needs.

From an employer standpoint, hybrid work offers powerful optimization opportunities. For example, ratio desking allows companies to operate with fewer desks than total employees, without depriving people of the space they need. Likewise, a dramatic shift to remote work and force portfolio consolidation, which can free up significant cash flow otherwise tied up in overhead.

These examples add up to some key, specific benefits that make hybrid workplaces a long-term prospect for today’s dynamic workforce:

  • Offers the best of both on-site and off-site accessibility for employees
  • Improves flexibility, agility, and optionality of the workplace
  • More effective use and utilization of spaces and workstations
  • Saved workplace and facility costs through more efficient use of space
  • Improved employee experience, which can influence and improve culture
  • Access to a broader talent pool when hiring or expanding

Negatives to beware of in hybrid workplaces

There are still a few kinks in the hybrid model that companies need to work through. It’s a proven, reliable solution to distributed teams and workforces, but there are some key drawbacks that can cause complications if not accounted for.

The biggest is lack of oversight. With some working remotely and those in-office employees flitting between different areas and workstations, companies give up a traditional sense of control. This is okay, so long as there’s a guiding hand to help employees develop good habits and understand new expectations. Social-emotional competency is vital for management, and good systems for communication are imperative.

Distractions are also something to be aware of. Employees used to the traditional work model of one desk and one task could find themselves both easily distracted and/or unsure of how to stay on-task. Companies can support these individuals with thoughtful workspace design and encourage employees to adapt their habits, rather than abandon them.

Finally, there need to be systems for bridging in-house to remote in all senses of the concept. Employee-to-employee communication. Access to , files, and technologies. The connection needs to be robust. Outside of employee preference, there can’t be any factors that make working in-house or remote any better than the alternative. Companies need to be mindful as they level the playing field, while simultaneously raising it.

Again, these examples add up to some clear-cut pitfalls. The good news is, many of them are avoidable with thoughtful design and management of hybrid workplaces:

  • More difficult to communicate in real-time, especially between distributed teams
  • Access to technology and applications may differ from office to home
  • Employees may find it difficult to adapt or develop new habits
  • Employees may feel alienated if not supported in their choice of work style
  • Hybrid requires more processes of control to allow for freedoms in work

Why the hybrid model is here to stay

Simply put: because the benefits of the hybrid workplace outweigh the potential negatives. That and the fact that, for some employees, there’s no going back to a centralized workplace. Companies might’ve adopted a hybrid work model out of necessity due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s one that’s going to far outlast it as the new way to accommodate everyone unique work styles and preferences.

Keep Reading: Hybrid Workplaces are the Future of Work

demo spaceiq


How to Use Digital Twin Software

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategist

Workplace and building management have been the center for an explosion of technology recently. One of the fastest-growing segments is digital twin software. Companies have discovered the benefits of a digital workplace representation, and are continuing to realize the opportunities digital twins offer. That said, there’s a steep learning curve when it comes to information modeling, and digital twin software is no different.

For businesses to make the most of their investment in digital twins, they need a firm grasp of the software. This means not only learning how to use it, but also how to integrate it into everything from processes to other applications. With a fundamental understanding of how to use digital twin software, facility managers can focus on deploying it with better efficiency and effectiveness.

What is digital twin software?

Let’s start with the basics. Digital twin software is the bridge between data from the many connected devices in your office’s IoT and software and processes that use them. If the digital twin is a date model representation of your building, the software that’s used to govern it contextualizes all this data into facility-specific insights.

As a basic example, let’s say you use a hoteling system for your workstations. While hoteling software might know how many seats there are or the rules for booking a space, it’s drawing data from the digital twin to contextualize that interaction. It doesn’t just know there are three 10-person conference rooms—it knows which floor they’re on and whether they’re occupied right now based on data it pulls from the digital twin.

Digital twin software takes all the data from a smart building and puts it into a place where people, software, and processes can access it.

What is digital twin software used for?

The hoteling example above is one example of how digital twin software works. It’s designed to facilitate smarter action and oversight, no matter what shape they take:

  • Optimization: What process or system can you improve to streamline the workplace?
  • Improvement: What positive change can you make to something that’s deficient?
  • Maintenance: What type of upkeep do you need to maintain efficient facilities?
  • Innovation: What new opportunities can you explore to improve the workplace?
  • Expansion: How can you grow and expand your facilities and their capabilities?

These improvements come from the three pillars of digital twin functionality: model, simulate, and manage. Every optimization, improvement, maintenance, and building oversight task run through a digital twin comes backed by data and insights that make it a smart one. Instead of relying on static data, digital twins allow decision-making and facilities management to be as real-time as the facilities themselves.

Investigate digital twin solutions

What many businesses need to realize about digital twin software is that it’s not often a prepackaged, out-of-the-box solution. Digital twins vary depending on the company, integrations, and IoT, which often means building it out from a foundational piece of software. For some, that’s as simple as connecting a few dots; for others, it means routing thousands of data streams into a comprehensive model and layering integrations to tap into those insights.

Deploying the best version of a digital twin means building one that meets the complexities of your facilities. Companies without IoT sensors might simply use digital twins for asset management, using manual input data. Conversely, companies with extremely intelligent buildings will program hundreds (or thousands) of automations into the system to control and capitalize on free-flowing data. This is why it’s so important to learn how to use the digital twin software you’re investing in. The degree of capability often equates to the degree of customization.

Invest in information modeling training

To get the most out of digital twin software, companies need to follow a few key steps:

  • Investigate the options and choose software appropriate to your scale
  • Designate a person or people to oversee the setup and deployment of the twin
  • Invest in training and education for using the digital twin
  • Hire or train data analysts and information modeling experts to capitalize on data

The digital twin doesn’t just need to paint a clear picture of facilities—it needs a human component that understands how to access and capitalize on these insights.

Think of a digital twin like a beautiful sports car. If you’re going to pay the money for one, you need to know as much as possible about proper upkeep, maintenance, and capabilities. If you spend thousands on a sports car with manual transmission and you only know how to drive automatic, it’s going to sit there looking pretty (but unused) until you learn. A digital twin is the same way.

Maximize the benefits of digital twin software

Knowledge is power. Companies that take the time to investigate digital twin software, make the proper investments, and learn how to use it will find stronger ROI in it. The ability to model, simulate, and manage real-world changes in a digital space is invaluable—but it only comes with mastery of digital twin software. Learn the fundamentals and understand the tools. Then, channel them into better governance of assets, people, and facilities.

Keep Reading: Digital Twins: A Revolution in Workplace Management


The Makeup of a Digital Twin Framework

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator

Digital twins are growing in popularity as businesses digitize facility and asset management. Like most up-and-coming technologies, there’s a learning curve. The best way to get a digital twin up and running—and to use it effectively—is to understand the components of a digital twin framework. What, exactly, does it entail?

Like most workplace technologies, digital twins operate on a scale. They’re applicable for companies of all sizes, but their frameworks become more complex as they encompass more parts of the business’ ecosystem. With that in mind, let’s take a look at all the variables and factors that can theoretically comprise a digital twin framework. First, a quick recap.

What is a digital twin model?

Digital Twins: A Revolution in Workplace Management

  • Represent the workplace and its assets in a digital space.
  • Use the digital framework to run “what if” workplace scenarios.
  • Take data from the digital twin to optimize the physical workplace

For example, a space manager might look at the digital twin to model a new workplace desking concept. Then, they’ll simulate that concept to understand how it affect the workplace. If it’s a smart change, they might deploy it; if not, they can continue testing. That’s the power of smarter workplace management.

The bottom line on digital twin models is that they’re a digital framework for quantifying the building and everything in it. When you’re able to turn the tangible office into digital data points, you’re able to explore new data-driven decisions about how to improve it.

How does digital twin work?

In its most basic sense, it’s a digital floor plan. It shows facility managers all the spaces in a building and the features that comprise them. With the help of IoT sensors and other inputs, that model can come to life with automations, which feed into other workplace data management systems.

For example, a motion sensor in a conference room can trigger the digital twin to show that room as “occupied.” The desk booking system that draws information from the digital twin will then show the room as occupied, to prevent anyone from reserving it at that moment. This simple example represents limitless workplace integrations, where the digital twin serves as the repository for real-time data about the building, people, and assets.

Speaking of these things, let’s look at what can comprise the framework for a digital twin.

The framework for digital twins

There are tangible and intangible parts to every digital twin: physical devices that generate virtual data and software that integrates with the twin. Here’s a look at the many elements in the framework of a digital twin.

Information input

These are the systems that feed data into the digital twin.

  • IoT sensors: Translate real-world actions into digital data points. These can include always-on sensors, action-triggered sensors, threshold sensors, and more.
  • Beacons: Hubs for sensor data and collection points for agile data. They paint a real-time picture of dynamic events throughout the workplace.
  • Checkpoints: These can include access control or desk check-in kiosks. They record events in time at specific points in space.
  • People: Facility managers and maintenance teams can interact directly with digital twins to input manual data and import records.

Information extraction

These are the systems that access the digital twin for data.

  • Workplace software. Software like IWMS, CAFM, CMMS, and EAM integrate with digital twins to pull specific data they contextualize for decision-makers.
  • Machine learning allows facility managers to set up trigger using digital twin data as catalysts for specific actions, such as generating a work report.
  • Vendor portals. Companies with outsourced services can provide limited, read-only access to digital twin data via portals, to inform better service.
  • Reporting systems. Software that probes the digital twin for specific or historical information that it uses to generate insights about specific facility utilization.

The digital twin rests at the center of this push-pull data relationship. It’s a CAD representation of the building that contextualizes the information generated within it. Keep in mind that not every digital twin includes these components. Some are more robust than others, and the more complex the twin, the more data sources and integrations it’s likely to have.

Put the pieces together in a custom framework

Digital twins are unique because workplaces are unique. No two companies will have the same digital twin architecture because their assets, processes, and facilities differ. The beauty of a digital twin is that it’s a mirror to the physical workspace. As the business grows and changes, so does its digital counterpart. Today, your twin might be small, with only a few spaces and assets tracked. Tomorrow, it could be a thriving data ecosystem.

Companies that understand the digital twin framework will find themselves realizing the benefits of a digital twin more easily. When you understand the modeling capabilities and the facets of a twin, it becomes easier to model, simulate, and manage the real workplace.

Keep reading: Digital Twins – A Revolution in Workplace Management


Digital Twin Services: Modeling, Simulation, and Management

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator

As companies plan their IT budgets and consider investments into the expanding realm of smart buildings, there’s a new line item cropping up on balance sheets: digital twin services. Companies that have embraced digital twins and Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software are paying for the insights that come with them. But is this a good investment?

Often, the answer is yes. Digital twins unlock a wealth of opportunities for better facility oversight—namely through modeling, simulation, and management. Paying for digital twin services means paying for insights that help stakeholders think before they act and make mindful decisions about facilities after they understand the context of those decisions.

Here’s a look at what encompasses digital twin services and why this expenditure is one more and more businesses will bear in a future where buildings are only getting more complex.

What is digital twins?

A digital twin is a virtual representation of spaces and assets that comprise a building. It’s designed to be a mirror for the physical workplace. Depending on how it’s used, a digital twin can be a sandbox for scenario planning, a system of record, or a way to glean insights about space. The twin represents a collection of real-world data about spaces and assets, contextualized.

Often, digital twins connect to Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS), Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software, and Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS). These systems take the de-siloed workplace data from a digital twin and use it to drive decision-making about everything from maintenance to space utilization.

What are digital twins used for?

As companies start to investigate the benefits of digital twin services, it bears understanding what those services are. Specifically, it’s important to understand how digital data insights culminate in a better physical workplace. That means looking at the three main digital twin service functions: modeling, simulation, and management.

Digital twins for modeling

In its most basic practical sense, a digital twin is a model. It’s the digital manifestation of a physical workplace. As such, it provides context for space application, utilization, and dynamics. Digital twins offer comprehensive modeling capabilities that allow not just physical space insights, but also mapping for assets and personnel. Modeling allows space and facility managers to see exactly what space is available to them within the context of a broader whole.

Beyond space and assets, digital twins have the ability to recreate the many variables of an environment (with the right sensors). What’s the temperature on the third floor right now? Does the building on Main Street have power right now? Do the pressure sensors in the fifth-floor conference room indicate that it’s occupied? Digital twins model real-time environments. They’re not just a digital map of a building—they’re a living, breathing representation of it.

Digital twins for simulation

With a real-time representation of the building, simulation becomes possible. Digital twins offer a way to test scenarios and “what if” situations without any real-life disruption. This capability is even more powerful with input from IWMS and EAM software.

If you move the photocopier from Room 204 to Room 220, will it be accessible to more people? What’s the emergency exit path for Carol (who sits on the third floor) in the event of a fire? If you turn all the conference rooms in the fourth floor into hoteling stations, how many desks will you net? All these questions and more are the product of modeling. Rather than execute change in real life and get stuck with the consequence if it’s not ideal, digital twins provide insight.

The more data fed into a digital twin and the more it produces for integrated systems, the more powerful your simulation capabilities become. Data is power, and digital twins centralize it.

Digital twins for management

The final digital twin service to consider is management. This can mean space management or asset management, or even process management. The digital twin becomes a way to plan and simulate changes, then deploy them and manage the results. Data begets change, begets more data, begets more change. At the center of it all is a digital twin: a system of record and a sandbox for management of crucial systems.

Here again, connection to IWMS, CMMS, or other workplace management software is important. They provide context and reporting for decision-making, and ultimately fuel better management.

Rising demand for digital twin services

The modeling, simulation, and management capabilities offered by digital twins are becoming more and more valuable with each passing year. As businesses juggle new work tech, hybrid work styles, CRE challenges, and changing workplace demands, digital twins are instrumental in informed decision-making. They’re an investment more businesses are making for a good reason: they’re crucial in orchestrating and overseeing the next generation of evolving workplaces and smart buildings.

Keep reading: What is a Digital Twin vs. BIM?