03 Oct 2023
by Kevin Reeves

Digital twins - human machine teaming

Guest Blog by Kevin Reeves, Managing Director at KJR Digital Ltd

Hi folks, firstly a huge thanks to the team at techUK for inviting me to write a blog for the Digital Twin campaign week, a pleasure and a privilege as always.

I hope that you are all keeping safe and well, still enjoying the last of the (slightly) warm weather.

I am deep diving into the world of digital twins again as part of ongoing research with the intent of overcoming adoption barriers.

Over the last few months I have been horizon scanning, looking at recent articles, papers etc and trying to unpick where gaps exist where KJR Digital can add value, and when thinking back to my past career activities, it hit me square on the chin……..  Are we forgetting the most important element of a digital twin….. The user!

Now I am as guilty as the next digital twin enthusiast, however when talking about digital twins the discussion is often about data, integration architectures, governance and all the mechanics required to develop a digital twin, very rarely (if ever) have I seen presentations or discussions about how we as mere humans will interact with digital twins and more importantly, for what purpose!

Having scoured academic papers on the subject of human machine teaming other researchers have also noted a lack of focus on the human element of digital twins, with little guidance on how to address cultural adoption.

The last digital construction report showed that only 14% of workers in industry have worked on a project incorporating digital twins, indeed widespread adoption seems some way off.  We must ask why given all the hype and market analysts painting a strong picture, Gartner for example noted in their emerging technology report in Feb 2022 that "the digital twin market will cross the chasm in 2026 to reach $183 billion in revenue by 2031".

Whilst most market analysis hints at other sector adopting digital twins faster, such as manufacturing and aerospace, the ambition in the built environment is certainly there. Having personally worked on over 20 different digital twin projects over the last 5 years, the majority of clients I know have a digital twin vision and strategy. The challenge seems to be moving from proof of concept to scale across very diverse enterprises.

Built environment owner / operators are complex and sophisticated organisations, with technology estates often representing hundreds of millions of pounds in terms of investment. Digital Twins provide an opportunity to integrate these complex landscapes which is difficult from a technical perspective, more importantly it is difficult from a cultural perspective, which can quickly hamper adoption.

Thankfully this is not a new challenge, there are many frameworks and standards that focus on the user, embedding user centric methodologies. Agile for example is built around user centric design, however these frameworks fall short of deep diving into human machine teaming and the myriad of considerations.

Our research at KJR Digital highlights a need to develop a framework that puts People First when it comes to digital twin development, with that in mind we are developing an open-source framework and sharing the outputs on linkedin.

The framework is primarily based on the ISO9241 suite of standards, which is quite eye opening in terms of what to consider in human machine teaming…….. Much of it seems so obvious, yet rarely a consideration in technical development. We have also aligned the framework to The Open Group Architectural Framework (TOGAF) so that it is 'implementable' in an enterprise context.

And here it is, the very start of a framework that will be developed over the coming months, published as an open-source approach to putting people first in digital twins: 


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We will test this in real world applications and continue to evolve the framework over time, which we hope will be a collaborative exercise. Importantly we will start to measure the impact of the framework, considering metrics which can help assess user adoption.

If you want to learn more or get involved, please do get in touch.

Catch up soon folks, take care.



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Kevin Reeves

Kevin Reeves

Managing Director, KJR Digital Ltd

Kevin is an experienced technologist and senior leader across UK economic infrastructure. As managing director at KJR Digital, Kevin supports clients to accelerate digital transformation across energy, water, transport and defence sectors.

Within industry Kevin is a digital lead within the Construction Leadership Council, supporting the acceleration of digital transformation across the built environment, working across Government, industry and academia. KJR Digital Ltd

As an honorary research fellow at Warwick Manufacturing Group, Kevin supports leading research in the field of trusted data sharing, to ensure the UK maintains its position as a globally leading centre of excellence in cyber security.

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