9 Reasons why digital twins are important for real estate owners

We are at the beginning of the Digital Twin mega-trend. Gartner predicts (see trend 4) that by 2021, half of the major industrial companies will be using Digital Twins for better research and development results. By continuing to accelerate the adaptation of new technologies in the real estate sector, real estate owners can make a leap and also belong to these large industrial companies.

The purpose of this blog is to help real estate owners (and other organizations in the ecosystem) to understand the importance of Digital Twin and the opportunities it offers for these organizations, its users/ customers and society.

Vertical value chain and fixed mindset

The real estate sector lacks one single source of truth of real estate properties. The vertical value chain is divided into silos including the generated data.  As described in the previous blog ‘Digital Twin offers enormous opportunities for life cycle real estate’, this fragmentation leads to many unnecessary costs, does not put the user first and is insufficiently sustainable. Striving for perfection in the silos, reproducing what we already know and only want to meet the (project) demand of the customer and/or client creates a fixed mindset. If we want to make a leap and contribute to a better world for now and future generations, we need to reinvent real estate. Betting on Digital Twin is one of the possibilities.


Digital Twin will evolve from concept to reality for almost everything: everyone, every service and every network. A Digital Twin is a dynamic digital representation of a physical (real estate) asset, which enables the company to better understand, predict and find new revenue from the performance of this asset, allowing the company to improve its performance in the marketplace. a Digital Twin – consisting of a 3D BIM model, Internet of Things and data analytics – changes real-time as the status of the physical asset changes. The Digital Twin connects all the physical data entry and digital model processes that are useful to an organization so that all users can perform their activities. As such, Digital Twin offers huge opportunities for real estate companies and to improve people’s lives.


Why does a real estate owner want a virtual representation of the physical property portfolio? What makes these Digital Twins so important? Below are 9 reasons why a Digital Twin is so important to real estate owners:

1.  Speeds up decision-making

Digital Twin (system-level tool) is a powerful real-time mastermind to drive innovation and performance. By using Cloud solutions, operational activities can be seen within seconds. In addition, a Digital Twin can also provide advice based on historical data and can be used as a benchmark for the total property portfolio. These insights allow for faster and better decision making.

2.  Increase user satisfaction

In essence, customers play a key role in influencing the strategies and decisions in any company. A Digital Twin can help to stimulate the services offered directly to customers, such as measuring ups on a customer’s Digital Twin as part of the customer experience. The individualized demand will be canalized into the digital value network. Hence a drastic change will take place: exploitation will evolve towards mass customization and individualization, ultimately increasing user satisfaction.

3.  Improves design

By starting with the development of user concepts – using MBSE (model-based Systems Engineering) – the basis for a cross-functional design is laid. Requirements (specifications and performance) can be defined and verified and validated. Once the property is in operation, the needs of the users can be understood even better. Components are improved and (new) services are developed to improve the user experience. It is also possible to run simulations (e.g. what-if) if you want to change the layout during operation or if a part is built on. The simulations provide multiple solution directions that can be looked at in more detail (and which can eventually be advised by the Digital Twin).

4.  Ensures more efficient processes

Service is where the Internet of Things (IoT) offers the greatest insight. A Digital Twin enables users (e.g. facility and maintenance) to explore countless possibilities, so that they can make a recommendation with a higher level of trust about the life span of the object or reliability of an asset. Through the insights generated by the IoT of the assets, service and maintenance processes can be optimized. A Digital Twin ensures more effective and efficient processes and therefore saves costs. Together, IoT data match the Digital Twin for an organization to understand more about how a property is used by users. Ultimately, the Digital Twin is the key to improving the product over time based on insight into actual usage.

5.  Optimizes physical use

A Digital Twin ensures optimization of the physical property. Because there is a source, it is possible to gain insights at three levels of activities: descriptive (what has happened), predictive (what is going to happen) and prescriptive (what is going to happen). If you combine your user patterns with Machine Learning (ML), it becomes possible to make a cost-effective maintenance plan (more remote, fewer actions, reduction of for example energy and material costs, efficient use of labour). The Digital Twin makes it possible to define predictive maintenance strategies: repair it before it breaks!

6.  Contributes positively to sustainability

The Digital Twin facilitates, among other things, the design, manufacturing and operation process. During these processes, choices must be made that influence sustainability (ecological, social and economic). Also making material choices – generative design in combination with a material footprint – during the entire life cycle contribute to sustainability. The Digital Twin with all its assets forms a raw materials passport and forms the basis for the circular economy. More efficient (construction) logistics reduces CO2 emissions. If you link your personal user data (of course in accordance with legislation and ethics) with the Digital Twin, interventions are also possible to promote the personal health of users. The (early) discovery of shortcomings in sustainability performance by simulating results ultimately yields a lot of social value.

7.  Stimulates innovation

In some cases, a Digital Twin can act as a playground (through simulations) before activities are performed in the physical world. This means that property owners can build a property or scenario and perform test simulations to identify areas for improvement, anticipate errors and in some cases provide insight that a service is not being marketed. A Digital Twin can also be linked to external datasets (e.g. Public Transport), creating new services and a more complete user experience. The Digital Twin facilitates holistic thinking, to enable groundbreaking thinking and open innovation.

8.  Improves communication

The Digital Twin as one single source of truth provides a total overview, real-time information, and transparency. Digitized design data, (building) technical data (material usage, performance of installations), Internet-of-Things (real-time sensor and machine data), and other valuable data sources are connected in the Digital Twin and thus provide added value. Due to the high speed with which calculations can be made, deviations can be communicated faster, which contributes to safety, durability, user experiences, etcetera. The Digital Twin is also easily accessible as a communication medium for all users in the ecosystem, which also facilitates co-creation and wisdom of the crowd.

9.  Transforms the mindset

By using Digital Twin(s), the traditional tenants-mindset will transform into a customer-mindset. By dealing with the property in a holistic way, we get one we go from a production mindset to a service mindset. This mindset – where user experience and social value are central – creates a new dimension in hospitality.

From product innovation and user-oriented design to end-to-end process, productivity, services and business optimization where smart hospitality is central.

Although real estate is static and robust, the life cycle is dynamic. The possibilities that agile bits offer ensure that the asset(s) get a new dimension – Digital Twin – that offers enormous opportunities. They go beyond the current status of the asset, enabling companies to achieve a whole new range of ROI-driven objectives, such as adaptive diagnostics, conditional maintenance, and predictive errors. With the huge extra technology stimulus in the Internet of Things, Digital Twins’ potential is no longer just a concept, but a disruptive driver of innovation and is more affordable than ever.


Making agreements for the life cycle of the object requires extra attention because the philosophy of ‘One single source for truth‘ is guaranteed, including data integrity and security. Digital Twin requires a PropTech Mindset. A mindset that thinks and acts horizontally and exponentially instead of vertically (in silos) and linear. Through this mindset, we also make a switch from value chain to value network. Ultimately, it’s all about the use and associated performance. The As-a-Service business model offers a solid basis across the board.

In short, the results of a Digital Twin provide enormous cost savings, create sustainable impact and improve customer satisfaction. Ultimately, the Digital Twin is the key to the continuous improvement of the physical property and the user experience. What is stopping you as a real estate owner from taking this step with Digital Twin? What do you need to take this step? Don’t wait, stay ahead. Start with a Proof of Concept (PoC) to better understand the value of the technology for your company. Be a PropTech Frontier of the built environment.


Menno Lammers

Founder – PropTechNL

Founding Board Member – PropTech House, the European Network