Improve customer engagement and loyalty with digital twins


Although our business process services view of the world tends to be focused on point-in-time transactions like the card swipe, there is an opportunity to learn from manufacturing organizations that are benefiting from the use of “digital twins” of real-world equipment as a way to sustain customer engagement.

Manufacturers of equipment such as turbines have been embracing the digital twin concept to create virtual representations of the machines they deliver. The digital twin is not a static representation, but rather an evolving digital profile that is enhanced by historical, current and projected behaviors of the physical object that creates new value.

Gartner has included digital twin in its annual list of Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for the past three years, and it’s interesting to compare how Gartner’s point of view has evolved in this short time:

2017: A digital twin is a dynamic software model. Organizations will use digital twins for equipment service, manufacturing process planning and the operation of factories.

2019: A digital twin is a digital representation. The focus today is on digital twins in the IoT, including the application of advanced big data analytics and AI to drive new business opportunities.

Industrial product companies have been creating digital twins of products such as wind turbines, automobiles, aircraft, delivery vehicles, large-scale refrigerators and industrial ovens. The digital twins of these assets monitor and measure everything from operating performance to temperatures, heat generation and wear and tear. By mining the real-time data of their assets and applying machine learning techniques, suppliers can work with customers to predict required maintenance, avoid unplanned downtimes and plan for profitable enhancements.

While our BPS view is more focused on transactions like the card swipe or the invoice, and less oriented to the customer life cycle, we can build on industrial product success by identifying ways transaction-based systems can contribute to, and benefit from, the digital twin of our customers.

Shifting the mindset from single point transactions to sustained customer engagement is where the digital twin opportunity lies. In retail for example, the customer buying process begins long before the card swipe and ends well after the transaction clears the bank.

We already have quite a digital footprint that offers a view into our purchase journey – a journey that starts well before we set foot into a physical store or visit an online retailer.  We have personal profiles and purchase histories with grocery stores, travel agencies, rideshare services and fitness trackers. We use connected IoT devices and have services like Google, Alexa and Siri in our homes, cars and wherever we go.

And new customer journeys start every day for consumers. Consider your own behaviors and near future needs. How is your supply of K-cups for your Keurig machine? How often do you add time to your microwave’s programmed cook times because your meal isn’t quite warm enough?  Will you sit down today to start planning a vacation to a warmer destination during the winter months?

Even with this short list of ordinary consumer behaviors, a digital twin could initiate numerous predictable outcomes. Combining transactional data, such as the quantity and frequency of K-cup purchases with insights from non-transactional knowledge such as family size, work location and vacation history, allows the creation of a reliable model of an individual and to understand the point at which they are likely approaching their own personal reorder point for products or services.

Leveraging insights gained from product consumption and how connected devices are being used present new opportunities for retailers. For example:

  • Regularly adding 30 seconds after microwaving dinner could flag the need for a higher wattage model, or a timely offer for a service call to check the appliance.
  • A vacation to a warm climate is an opportunity to proactively offer location appropriate clothing.
  • Travel insight, combined with an uptick in fitness tracker data, may indicate a new fitness regime to prepare for an adventure vacation, indicating many purchase motivations for that individual.
  • Finally, insight into K-cup use provides the ideal time to present the customer with availability information of their favorite K-cup flavors at locations conveniently located along their commute route.
  • The end of the purchase journey is often concluded by a social media post and the next purchase journey begins.

A sustained customer relationship is accomplished by delivering relevant solutions for the consumer when they are appropriate. Bombardment of adverts and offers will be perceived as a nuisance. By applying digital twin concepts we can predictively offer consumer solutions — not as they enter a store with their minds set and shopping lists in hand — but rather when they will be most receptive to offers based on their unique interests.

Business systems that enable this level of customer engagement will drive deeper value connections and increased loyalty.

Ed-Hackworth-headshotEd Hackworth is a Solution Architect in DXC Technology’s Business Process Services group specializing in financial services. He brings over 30 years of industry and solution leadership experience in BPS services including Cards & Payments, Healthcare, Order and Payment Processing, Print and Digitization Services, ePayment Services and Consumer Credit Application Processing.

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