In brief

In brief

  • Most companies are missing out 35-65% of value and not realizing a total return on their digital twin investments.
  • They view their investments too narrowly and focus on standalone digital twins for single functions, e.g. operations or engineering.
  • Companies must instead reimagine their digital twin capabilities with a fully integrated digital thread solution.
  • Thinking "thread-first" unlocks significantly more value by standardizing approaches and toolsets while avoiding data and solution overlaps.


Digital twins and digital threads help companies make better use of their process, equipment and product data. They deliver a veritable step-change in engineering, manufacturing, operations and more, and can boost sustainability. But most companies are struggling to realize a total return on their digital twin and thread investments—missing out on up to 65% of possible value.

Too narrow a view: Digital twin challenges

The problem here is most companies use standalone digital twins for a single function, for example an operations twin, an engineering twin or a management twin. They also tend to focus on the front-end experience when they should pursue a comprehensive strategy for data integration and sharing.

Some of the challenges that come from this narrow view include: Duplicated infrastructure and isolated, untimely data; a lack of enterprise optimization in favor of functional optimization; and missed revenue opportunities from not leveraging data in ways that enable customers.

To overcome these challenges, companies must push for a broader vision with a "thread-first" perspective.

Thinking bigger: Digital thread vs digital twin

A "Digital Thread," is the "stream" of data that flows through the entire product development lifecycle. They help companies look beyond narrow, function-specific definitions and include more data sources. And they power companies to pursue much bigger objectives around company-wide cost and risk reduction, efficiency and flexibility increases and sustainability.

A digital thread strategy:

Takes advantage of all current twin concepts and expands beyond to use all data available to the company.

Factors in new technologies and development techniques.

Leverages cloud infrastructure to create and scale an enterprise-wide digital thread and twin that realizes the full value potential.

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Weaving your digital thread together

Through our Industry X and Applied Intelligence practices, we developed MyDigitalThread, a powerful solution that accelerates the creation of fully integrated threads. Cloud-enabled and technology-agnostic, MyDigitalThread quickly accelerates value realization for digital twins—from years to weeks in some cases. It connects all types of digital twins with flexible, API-driven interactions across three layers: User Experience Layer; Data Services Layer; and Work Process Layer.

It’s time for thread-first thinking

Too many companies are missing out on the full value potential of their digital twins. To realize the potential 65% value they’re losing, they must avoid single purpose and standalone digital twins and focus instead on a fully functional thread. This thread will be the foundation which will support the company’s digital twin aspirations and growth now and in the future.

Surf the wave to a "thread-first future." Get in touch to learn more.

Digital threads are important because their solutions can make much better use of a company’s existing process, equipment, and product data. Digital threads deliver a veritable step-change in engineering, manufacturing, operations, and beyond—a step-change that could significantly increase efficiency and flexibility while minimizing costs and risks. They’ve even been shown to boost business’ overall sustainability.

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is a technology-enabled way of managing products through the stages of their life cycles, from concept through retirement. PLM can manage the standard parts, assemblies, component designs, complete template designs and final full designs of constructed assets.

Digital Threads have proven difficult to fund sufficiently because the benefits are distributed among many different departments, and thus, are difficult to capture or document. It can also be challenging to share ownership of the Digital Thread across business and IT. Nearly one-third of high-tech companies say that connecting a fragmented software vendor landscape is a top challenge with a digital thread approach.

A digital thread concept utilizes a stream of data that flows through a product’s entire lifecycle—from ideation to requirements through design, manufacturing, and service while enabling a wide variety of benefits: simulation, testing, analytics, optimization capabilities, and many others. Together with digital twins, digital threads promise to deliver a veritable step-change in engineering, manufacturing, and operations.

John Warlick

Principal Director – Digital Product Development


Richard Godziela

Associate Director – Digital Solution Architecture-Innovation


Daniela Mitterbuchner

Senior Principal – Industry X, Engineering and R&D Digitization, Offering Development

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