What is Digital Twin Technology? How can it help us plan future contingency scenarios?

This post was originally published in Spanish at Leequid “Gemelos digitales para tiempos distópicos

In this article we try to shed some light on what is a Digital Twin (DT) and how this technology could be applied in the context of the new coronavirus, currently designated as COVID-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO).

What is Digital Twin Technology?

Roughly explained, a Digital Twin (DT) is a technology that creates a digital representation of a real asset (physical product, system or service), that is, they are an exact digital replica of something that exists in the “real” world. This technology allows us to discover, through computer simulation, ways to improve our operations, designs and test products before investing in them and avoiding possible disruptions in the supply chain. This translates into greater efficiency through the exploration of hypothetical scenarios.

The idea that we would like you to stick with is that, in this virtual environment, we are able to “experience the future” applying it today in a real environment. DT allows us to develop and test an asset faster and more economically than it is possible in real life.

How can this technology help us fight the COVID-19?

From the beginning of the pandemic, the WHO and various Governments have adopted measures related to “big data and analytics” in their strategy to face this situation. The data obtained from these techniques can be used to create reliable simulations. In this sense, we believe that DT can help in several aspects. Firstly, by measuring and predicting its spread; secondly, by controlling the infection and thirdly, by healing the patients.

How to predict its spread?

Predictive models can be built from historical data on people’s movement patterns, from real data on COVID-19’s ability to transmit from person to person, and making assumptions about unknown relative factors. The model is updated as it is fed with new information, connects the data in relation to the information we ask for, and makes predictions.

Recently, a large number of Startup-ups based in big data and analytics, have emerged. They use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to develop systems that navigate data in order to map and prevent diseases. Such is the case of BlueDot that predicted the SARS pandemic and that alerted a possible coronavirus outbreak in December 2019.

These technologies, in addition to saving time and resources, provide professionals with relevant information so that they know where to invest efforts, how to manage health services, which routes to control at airports, which events to cancel, etc.

How to control the infection?

DT can help enhance the use of hospitals by predicting specific scenarios that help organize patients, visitors and health professionals flows, as well as to evaluate the impact of different designs and models of specific wings within the hospitals such as waiting areas or ER’s. DT can also be used to perform operational stress tests in a specific department or throughout the entire hospital.

We could simulate, for example, how the massive increase of patient arrivals in ER’s would affect the hospital and therefore be able to better optimize resources (health personnel, space and materials), configure viable scenarios in an environment that changes at a dizzying pace, and help make smarter decisions.

How could patients be cured through this technology?

DT allows us to create avatars (high resolution models of individual patients) on which we can apply thousands of medications to find the optimal one without the patient being in danger.

For this, we need large amounts of information that can be obtained through portable digital devices, electronic devices, images, electronic medical records, etc. 

However, this technology is not just about managing and analyzing data. It is a transformative approach to creating a complex computing architecture that connects different parts of an entire system, be it an individual patient and their body systems, or the systems of care within the healthcare ecosystem. The goal is to extract actionable ideas that enable better decision-making and, ultimately, better results for patients.


Digital Twin Technology is a practical and scalable solution to specific problems, but will it require the promotion of national initiatives. According to the latest report “Spain Digital Nation: A vision of the state of digitization in Spain” written by the Spanish Association of Digital Economy (Adigital): “in the current context, the only way to maintain competitive advantages and move up the global value chains, lies in the ability to design and develop innovative products and processes, a necessary environment for this being a favorable environment, with strong involvement of both the public and private sectors.”

Digital Twins were valued at $ 3.8 billion in 2019 and are expected to reach a global value of $ 35.8 billion in 2025. In this regard, Gartner predicts that by 2021 half of all large companies will use this technology to some degree and that this will improve its effectiveness by approximately 10%. 

From a productive and economic point of view, any company that understands the benefits of this technology, should already be studying how to integrate it into its processes.


A new consulting contract

One of the issues that we have debated the most these months in Recúbica\ has been how we wanted to name what we were going to do: agency, studio, consultancy or boutique. The decision is not trivial, since the nature of the company, represented by its denomination, places a specific type of service and culture in people’s heads, which conditions expectations regarding the type of work and its value.

The truth is that for some years I have been detecting a growing rejection for the word “consulting”, even in the largest companies, which in theory are the natural customer of this sector. I do not want to go into an exhaustive analysis of the reasons why I think we have come to this, but I will try to summarize them in a simplified way: consulting has ceased to provide relevant value to organizations.

At another time I will comment on the importance of the word “relevant” in Recúbica, but I think it is quite appropriate to question the real value consulting  offers to current organizations. These have evolved and matured, and cover, within the organization,  much of the knowledge that was usually requested to external collaborators.

This has a key direct implication: the consultant’s “deliverable” has changed. The client does not expect to receive a solution but rather a facilitation to find it for itself through the definition of the appropriate questions and the co-creation. It is evident that in this model the value creation must be different and so will be its measurement. This of course includes a redefinition of the economic case of the projects, both in terms of price and of success indicators.

In the 80s and 90s the objective in any organization was to standardize, identify, incorporate and follow their sectors’ best practices. This led to the definition of standard processes in the company’s most important areas: financial management, purchases, human resources or sales were defined through standardized tasks and roles. Each sector also had its own processes, marked by laws and best practices: banking, insurance, health, travel and even the new telecommunications sector observed how all organizations converged towards similar structures and dynamics. Efficiency and predictability were the end goal.

Predictability today is an unrealizable utopia. It is no longer easy to predict anything with certainty beyond a few months, so the analysis of our possible futures has now become even more important than it already was. Organizations can’t ignore how their context will evolve in a more distant future than that contained within their traditional two or three-year strategic plans. We must look beyond what is known (2–3 years ahead) to be able to identify trends and opportunities with which to create the future of organizations.

Regarding the objective of efficiency, in today’s organizations this factor is not enough to guarantee its future sustainability. Not only economically, since this will also depend on elements such as the quality of the company’s customer’s relationship, its employee’s happiness, its environmental and social relationship as well as many other factors over which it is not easy to have control. Working in these areas takes us out of the “ISO standards” and leads us fully into creative processes, user experience, service design, etc.

One of the implications of all of the above is how to generate the value provided to the customer. We must assume that it will no longer depend only on our services, but that we must incorporate an ecosystem’s knowledge and value: specialized startups with disruptive products, specialized studies in specific sectors or skills, data providers, public bodies, etc. Companies must therefore be able to collaborate and do so not only efficiently but generating a value which otherwise would be impossible to generate separately. Suppliers are often partners. This should not be alien to the consulting sector as it represents one of the more pressing needs they have. Current consultants must be able to cooperate on projects with other companies in order to generate value for their clients.

Finally, we cannot forget transparency and honesty. On many occasions when the consultant’s work has not been adequately justified, less transparent explanations and models have been used. However, clients (often ex-consultants) know the system well enough to question and demand more and more of it.

All of the above requires a new consulting contract, in which everyone’s expectations and demands are reviewed and in which new assessments, evaluations and work systems are defined. As a consequence, the consulting business model itself is under review and cannot be separated from the efforts we are asking organizations to make: lighter, more customer-focused, more agile.

At Recúbica\ we advocate for a new, more transparent and lighter contract, closer to the reality of each organization and that, at the same time, incorporates a new vision of the business and its strategy. We need to commit to the methodologies and transformations we are asking our clients. And now is the time to do it.


The birth of Recúbica\

This article is the translation of the original “El nacimiento de Recúbica\

When setting up a company (something I have done several times over the past 20 years), it is always difficult to say what the actual date of birth is. We usually use the legal constitution date to celebrate anniversaries, but the truth is that it is only one more milestone in a process that goes back months (and even years).

Today I’m inaugurating this space to talk about Recúbica\, the new company that I have created, together with Marcos Morales and César Covarrubias, and in which we have been working during the past months.

It was legally constituted only a few weeks ago, but Recúbica\ can be considered both a newborn company and quite an experienced organization. We wanted to add our more than 60 years of joint experience to rethink the way in which organizations consider their strategy

Our vision is based on the idea that current consulting is not able to respond to the challenges that most organizations are facing nowadays: a liquid modern world, with shorter cycles and a reality that is no longer able to differentiate between digital and physical. A multi-speed society, in which to visualize the possible futures that await us becomes indispensable to design relevant strategies.

Precisely, the word “relevant” has been one of the key elements in Recúbica\’s vision: we believe that relevant strategies are needed for the business, for organizations, for their employees and for society, not only the one we have today, especially the one that is yet to come.

We need, in short, strategies that help us travel the path to more relevant and sustainable futures.

We need relevant strategies that adapt to organizations that we are making more and are more agile, because there is no point in changing the operational methodologies if the way in which the strategy is proposed does not change.

We need relevant strategies capable of changing cultures and of introducing innovation in the DNA of the entire organization, strategies with a real impact in the transformation of companies.

We need to reinvent the way in which organizations, from the smallest to the largest, relate to each other, because only together will they be able to face their future challenges

We need to reinvent the way in which organizations relate to society and to people, because their sustainability will depend on these relationships being honest and conscious.

We need, in short, strategies that help us travel the path to more relevant and sustainable futures.

From Recúbica\ we want to fill this gap, so that we can help our clients to define their strategies, both business, new products or services, digital channels and, of course, their innovation strategy.

Therefore, this introduction also serves as an invitation to share ideas and explore new ground. This presentation of Recúbica\ is more emotional than formal; soon we will start to share our vision and methodology in a more organized way. We firmly believe that reinventing ourselves is everyone’s business, and the road ahead will be written together.

For now we’re beginning little by little through different channels: now our website is just a landing, and our social networks are still empty (LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram), but soon you will start reading and getting to know us better. Anyone in eager to know more, can contact us directly, and we will be happy to tell you in detail what we do.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you from my heart for the help of all the people who have directly or indirectly made it possible for this day to come.

See you along the way,