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The Digital Twin – Birth of an Integrated System in the Digital Age

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Today we live in a time where new technologies are developing rapidly. Digitalization and automation are finding their way into various industrial sectors, especially in the area of Industry 4.0. As in previous digitalization efforts in the manufacturing sector, it can be observed that the discourse is strongly concentrated on technological themes, neglecting the overall integration of technologies into the organization. In this paper, we conduct a literature review on the concept of a digital twin, i.e. a simulation-oriented closed loop system consisting of physical and digital components. We map the identified themes to the elements of a socio-technical system to show which issues in the discourse are underrepresented from a managerial point of view in order to provide indications for a more holistic discourse.
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The Digital Twin – Birth of an Integrated System in the Digital Age
Hendrik Wache
Chemnitz University of Technology
hendrik.wache@wirtschaft.tu-chemnitz.de
Barbara Dinter
Chemnitz University of Technology
barbara.dinter@wirtschaft.tu-chemnitz.de
Abstract
Today we live in a time where new technologies are
developing rapidly. Digitalization and automation are
finding their way into various industrial sectors,
especially in the area of Industry 4.0. As in previous
digitalization efforts in the manufacturing sector, it can
be observed that the discourse is strongly concentrated
on technological themes, neglecting the overall
integration of technologies into the organization. In
this paper, we conduct a literature review on the
concept of a digital twin, i.e. a simulation-oriented
closed loop system consisting of physical and digital
components. We map the identified themes to the
elements of a socio-technical system to show which
issues in the discourse are underrepresented from a
managerial point of view in order to provide
indications for a more holistic discourse.
1. Introduction
The megatrend of digitalization covers many areas
of today's life such as production, which is of particular
economic importance. In this context, the topic of the
fourth industrial revolution, known as Industry 4.0
(I4.0) or smart manufacturing, has continued to
develop in recent years. The vision of I4.0 is an
internet of things and services, where resources,
information, objects, and people are linked for value
creation [21]. I4.0 is based on so-called cyber-physical
systems (CPS), which consist of a physical and a
virtual part. The physical systems include actuators and
sensors collecting data and transmitting them over a
network. The virtual counterparts of the physical
systems map the physical parts, monitor them, and use
their data to control the actuators of the physical
component [3], creating a closed-loop circuit. In this
increasingly complex work environment, Digital Twins
(DT) are often discussed. They also implement the
mentioned closed-loop approach [3], but focus on the
simulation of different scenarios.
DT contain various kinds of data, such as product
specifications and designs, production process models,
operational performance data, and other knowledge
representations [46]. Thus, through this consolidation
of heterogeneous data, a DT can be considered as a
multi-dimensional and multi-layered cognitive artifact.
A cognitive artifact is a human-made object, which
contains externalized knowledge or memories to help
accomplish a task [37]. Thereby, it does not change the
human abilities but changes the task of the human from
remembering to ‘loading’ information into the mind
instead [37]. Cognitive artifacts can take on different
forms such as structural models, flowcharts, work
schedules, and also memorized procedures [9]. The DT
as a cognitive artifact in the manufacturing field
thereby covers multiple dimensions such as product
development, production, and maintenance as well as
different layers like static models, dynamic processes,
and performance measurements [48]. It aids humans
with the cognitive processing of huge amounts of
information and therefore impacts the routines of the
organization it exists within. Cognitive artifacts have a
significant influence on organizational work, they have
to be placed in the center of organizational routines in
order to be able to understand the mutual relationships
of routines and artifacts [9].
In organizational research, much work has been
contributed about the human agency and its effects on
organizational routines in recent years [17]. Human
agency, especially at the management level, is
important to successfully manage a company in the
digital age. However, in the current I4.0 discourse, the
exact opposite can be noticed: The focus lies on the
artifacts in a merely technical sense. The DT itself is in
the center of the discourse, but not its effects on the
organization and the human work. Consequently, the
impact on organizational routines is neglected. A
synthesis of both, artifacts and human agency would be
beneficial in order to achieve a balanced conception of
new artifacts in organizations [9]. Surveys from
practice have shown that a lack of understanding of
new technologies results in organizational inertia and
that familiar technologies such as simple ERP reports
or statistics are preferred to more advanced analytic
methods [15]. Therefore, it is very important that
digital innovations such as DT are comprehensively
examined for organizations. In order to guarantee this,
Proceedings of the 53rd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences | 2020
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URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10125/64413
978-0-9981331-3-3
(CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
the intersection of the cognitive artifact DT with
management fields should be discussed. We believe
that viewing the DT through a socio-technical lens is a
suitable approach. Prior research has indicated that the
socio-technical features of I4.0, as well as the socio-
technical impact of I4.0, require further exploration
[10]. This also applies to the DT as an approach for
realizing the vision of I4.0 [48]. We would like to
address this research gap by means of a less technically
and more holistically focused DT discussion. As a
result, DT can be designed and implemented taking
into account relevant factors and stakeholder groups in
order to achieve added value in future organizational
routines and to better transform existing routines.
Therefore, our research question is: Which
managerial fields arise in the context of DT in
manufacturing from a socio-technical perspective? The
examination of the DT from such a perspective
broadens the view on the rarely discussed managerial
fields as well as the intensively discussed technical
themes. To this end we conducted an inductive
literature review on DT. We categorized the themes of
the discourse on DT using elements of the work system
theory (WST). WST aims at providing a perspective
for understanding socio-technical systems in
organizations [5]. We then derived complementary
management fields to the technical fields, which can be
used to show different perspectives on the DT.
The remainder of the paper at hand is structured as
follows: First, the foundations of DT are introduced
and a short presentation of the WST is given, before
the research approach is described. Subsequently, the
current research discourse about DT is structured
according to the WST and related managerial fields are
revealed. Finally, a discussion and conclusions are
drawn.
2. Foundations
2.1. Digital Twins
“A Digital Twin is an integrated multiphysics,
multiscale, probabilistic simulation of a […] system
that uses the best available physical models, sensor
updates, […] history, etc., to mirror the life of its
corresponding […] twin.” [12:7]. The original purpose
of DT was to determine the condition and behavior of
an aircraft by mirroring it digitally on the basis of
mathematical models, historical, and current data.
Since 2012, the concept of a DT has also been
discussed in other industries. The application of the
concept has been extended from product lifecycle
management (PLM) to the manufacturing domain in
2014 [14]. Since then, the number of scientific
publications on the topic has increased massively in
each successive year [48]. While initially three
essential elements (a physical component, a virtual
component, and a connection between the two) were
identified [14], later five conceptual components were
proposed [48]. As such, a DT consists of a physical
entity, a virtual entity, a service system, the data, and
the connection between them, all parts being equally
important. Only a bidirectional data exchange between
the virtual and physical objects allows the concept of a
DT [27]. Thus, according to this understanding,
besides the original three parts, data constitute a central
component of a DT, since these are necessary for the
creation of new knowledge. Thereby we conclude that
on an abstract level, a DT can be seen as a cognitive
artifact for the manufacturing context in I4.0. The
concept of DT has grown to a virtual-physical concept,
which is related to CPS and to the latest definition of a
human-enabling interface to the technologies of I4.0.
On this basis, we conclude that DT are a
comprehensive management vehicle for CPS, which
explicitly takes human interaction into account.
Thereby the DT can be characterized as a socio-
technical system.
2.2. Work System Theory
The WST constitutes a systematic approach to
examine the different facets of an information system
(IS). It is considered as a theory that focuses on the
understanding of IT-reliant systems in organizations,
also called work systems. Work systems can be
understood as socio-technical systems where humans
perform business processes by using resources like
information and technology to create products or
services [5]. The application of the WST can be
achieved with the corresponding method called work
system method. This system analysis method aims at
understanding and analyzing work systems in business
at any level of detail appropriate to its purpose. It
contains the work system framework (WSF) that
differentiates between the following elements in a
work system: Processes and activities, participants,
information, technologies, customers, and
products/services[5]. Processes and activities in a work
system provide products or services to its customers.
Persons, who perform the activities in the process are
called participants. Information are all informational
entities, which are used and created within a work
system and are consequently used by processes and
activities. Technology includes the hard- and software
that is used during the process. The products and
services of a work system may be information,
physical objects, or actions. The recipient of the
products or services is the customer, who can also be
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involved in the value creation process. In addition,
there are three elements, which create a context for the
work system itself: environment, infrastructure, and
strategy. Environment refers to the external factors that
can affect a work system and affect its effectiveness
and efficiency, like for example stakeholders or
policies. Infrastructure is the term for resources that are
used by one or more work systems but are managed
outside the work system. Strategies refer to different
levels of strategy ranging from enterprise over
department to work system strategy, which should be
supported by the work system. The paper at hand uses
the WSF as a lens through which the concept of a DT
is examined to gather an understanding of the different
aspects of DT that constitute a holistic IS.
3. Research Approach
First, a structured inductive literature review [52] of
the DT literature was conducted. The terms "Digital
Twin" and "Digital Shadow" were searched in the title,
abstract, and keywords. No time period was excluded
for the review. Since this paper deals with the DT in
the IS context, the first database to be searched was
AIS eLibrary, which provided only a single (1) paper.
This underlines the need to discuss this important
concept of I4.0 in the IS domain. Subsequently, the
databases ScienceDirect (66), IEEE Xplore (110), and
Scopus (132) were searched (retrieval date 19.05.19).
After removing duplicates and discarding papers that
deal with the topic of DT outside the manufacturing
domain, the corpus could be reduced from 309 to 198
papers. A look at the conferences and journals of the
papers reveals a thematic focus in the domains of
production, manufacturing, and engineering, but also
computer and material science, as well as physics, and
math.
To portray the current discourse on DT, a tool-
supported review procedure was chosen, using
Leximancer, a computer-assisted qualitative data
analysis tool. It is suitable to provide a broad overview
of main themes of the analyzed data [8]. An automatic
instead of a manual coding procedure allows for the
unbiased inclusion of all parts of the discourse [18] and
thus provides a resource-efficient way to capture the
current state of the scientific discussion with similar
results to time-consuming manual coding [33].
Nevertheless, human sensemaking needs to take place
to guarantee robust results. As a second step, the
identified themes were deductively mapped to the
elements of the WSF. After this mapping, we checked
the papers that were assigned to the respective theme
by Leximancer (hereinafter referred to as subcorpus) to
identify to which extent the aspects of the
corresponding WSF element were covered in the
subcorpus. Analyzing a socio-technical system like the
DT through the WSF as a lens outlines the basic
aspects of this work system for a better understanding
[6]. Furthermore, the WSF is suitable to depict the
operational meaning of new digital technologies like
the DT and can help with identifying related challenges
[34]. Therefore, we conclude that this kind of mapping
allows for the identification of currently scarcely
discussed topic fields.
4. Discussion of the DT as a Work System
In this section, we present our results of the two-
step approach as described above. Table 1 contains
WSF Elements and the themes identified by applying
Leximancer to the papers of the literature review. This
mapping shows which themes contain concepts that
correspond to the definition of WSF elements. This
procedure yielded managerial fields that appear to only
be discussed subliminally or occasionally. As
anticipated, the themes identified by Leximancer
suggest a rather technical discourse on DT. In the
following we discuss the WSF elements and associated
themes as well as the emerging managerial fields.
Table 1: DT & managerial fields
WSF
Elements
Leximancer
Themes
Managerial Fields
Processes &
Activities
Process Product Lifecycle
Management
Customers &
Participants Work
Human Resource
Management, Work
Organization
Information Data Data Governance;
Knowledge Management
Technology
System;
Robot &
Tool
Enterprise Architecture
Management; Asset &
Configuration
Management
Products &
Services
Product;
Model
IT Service Management;
Product
Service Systems
Strategy - Digital Transformation
Management
Environment Energy Sustainability
Management
Infrastructure Network Infrastructure
Management
4.1. Processes and Activities
The WSF element “processes and activities”
matches most closely with the theme of process. In the
corresponding subcorpus, we found multiple papers
discussing single aspects along the value creation
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process. Using the WSF as a lens, phases like planning,
development, production, and optimization can be seen
as connected activities within a process. For example,
DT can be regarded as information vehicles along the
whole lifecycle of a product [40]. This leads to the
related managerial concept of PLM, which manages
the products of a company from the idea up until the
disposal [44]. Similar to the task of a product data
management system, the DT acts as a central data hub
for product information [44]. However, the
functionality of DT exceeds the functionality of
classical PLM systems by providing a bi-directional
information flow between physical and virtual
components. Hereby not only the observance of a
product in the product lifecycle, but also automatic
interventions and control mechanisms are enabled [47].
On the other hand, PLM also includes stakeholder
perspectives and guarantees access to needed product
information in various organizational routines [44],
while the human interaction with a DT remains
conceptually vague. Big advantages of the DT in the
context of PLM are the digital continuity and higher-
level functionalities like product simulations [35]. This
leads to the optimization of organizational routines as
well as to the removal of product lifecycle phases such
as prototyping, which is then performed virtually. DT
allow for a broad application range, from design
through manufacturing and utilization to the disposal,
covering the whole lifecycle [29]. Thus, managers have
to consider the lifecycle phases a DT is supposed to
support and by whom and how it can be used and
interacted with.
4.2. Customers and Participants
The WSF elements “customer” and “participant” do
not have a clear analog theme in the discussion about
DT. Using the WSF element as a lens reveals the
neglected aspect of a human actor. Some papers in the
discourse consider the role of humans as a mere
assistant to a machine in case of set-up or maintenance
[13], while other authors controversially see the
machine as an assistant to the human operators [26].
Working with DT changes the required skills and
capabilities of the workers. Such a change can be
addressed by training and education, which falls under
the aspect of human resource management.
Good operational performance of a company and
the coordination of the selected manufacturing strategy
with human resource activities are strongly linked [54].
The introduction of a new technology such as
computer integrated manufacturing is accompanied by
a change in the skill requirements of employees. For
example, deskilling of operators with a simultaneous
upskilling of supervisors could be linked with the
introduction of computer integrated manufacturing
approaches [2]. The same will presumably apply to the
introduction of a DT, which will be accompanied by
extensive routine changes due to the big functional
scope of a DT. For example, the aspect of monitoring
operational data by numerous sensors could lead to a
shift of the monitoring task from the machine itself to
the desk. In addition, automatic data retrieval allows
more freedom for decision making processes and faster
decision-making. These changes in routines should be
considered on the human resource management side.
Furthermore, the general aspect of work
organization and working conditions of workers need
to be considered. The advancing digitalization impacts
the design of factories, since a high degree of
autonomy and automation means that previous
approaches to workplaces in production have to be
revised, e.g. dangerous zones where machines move
freely need to be considered [43]. The research on DT
is an extension of current research in this area,
previously called virtual factory. In addition to the
planning/modelling of a factory [19], DT can extend
the concept of the virtual factory by simulations and
actual control and intervention capabilities through the
bidirectional linkage of the actual and virtual factory.
In recent years, work organization has been linked, for
example, to topics such as lean production, where there
a strong emphasis on optimization efforts exists [38].
In addition to traditional topics of work organization
such as automation and optimization, risk management
at the workplace is becoming relevant again in I4.0
when people work together with moving robotic
components in large, complex systems [43].
In this context, it has to be considered that the DT
can act autonomously, resulting in a higher risk in the
work environment, i.e. artificial intelligence (AI)
making decisions instead of a human being. On the
other hand, intelligent systems can also use protective
mechanisms that function better than human reactions
by using simulation scenarios. It must, therefore, be
clarified how the work organization deals with DT, e.g.
with interventions and decisions of AI in the workplace
of humans, and how the risk can be managed.
4.3. Information
The WSF element “information” plays a special
role in the context of IS. Information is generated in a
work system and is also used to create value. In the
theme data, we identified the concepts of sensor data,
real-time data, and big data and the related tasks of
data acquisition, collection, and analysis [39]. The use
of information created by sensors in the context of DT
is demonstrated in an application-driven and problem-
solving manner, but managerial fields are rarely
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discussed. In the context of IS, it goes without saying,
that procedures and methods of data governance need
to be applied in order to ensure appropriate data
quality. In contrast, the aspect of data governance is
discussed in just one single paper of the corpus [42].
We suggest the managerial theme of data governance,
to allow a high data quality, availability, and
trustworthiness, which is seen as a challenge in the
context of DT [42].
Data governance is a rights system at the
organizational level that controls the decision-making
process for the asset data [23]. It contains five decision
domains: Data principles, data quality, metadata, data
access, and data lifecycle [23]. A DT in the
manufacturing domain can offer various sources of
data due to its potentially high number of sensors. The
decision domains of metadata and data life cycle are
positively impacted by DT because of its integrated
and transparent data creation and storage mechanisms
as well as the possibility to generate metadata
accordingly. However, it poses challenges for the
domain of data quality due to the high heterogeneity of
data sources like sensors [48]. Since the DT unites data
from various sources and business areas, matters such
as data ownership, data access management, and rights
control can become complicated and might lead to
conflicts on an organizational level. From our point of
view, it is less a matter of clarifying which new fields
are added to data governance but how the existing
fields are changed by DT or how to pay attention to
them.
Another important aspect in the context of DT is
knowledge management. On an organizational level, it
deals with the administration of organizational
knowledge for the benefit of companies, e.g. to achieve
competitive advantages and to increase the ability to
innovate [4]. An important function is the reduction of
cognitive loads on people when dealing with large
amounts of knowledge [4]. IS that promote inter-group
knowledge exchange, and provide fast knowledge
access as well as just in time learning, have an enabling
role in knowledge management [4]. The DT with its
central knowledge collection with regard to product,
process, and master data [49] in specialized knowledge
bases [28] also represents a central IS for knowledge
management. This again shows that DT are
conceptually close to PLM systems that are used today.
In the area of knowledge management, DT could be
regarded as a system that has a varying scope of
knowledge. Depending on which data sources are used
for a DT, the depicted knowledge area can be very
extensive (cf. Smart Factories). With smaller DT, e.g.
in the area of manufacturing, one would not expect
knowledge about classic organizational processes such
as human resource management. With wide-ranging
DT solutions, on the other hand, the scope can be
substantial, possibly including these processes as well.
In general, similar issues as with other knowledge-
based systems can be expected with DT. For example,
the extraction of domain knowledge from experts is
very complex, as is the conversion of domain
knowledge into machine-readable information. These
issues are already being discussed in various areas,
such as mass customization [11].
We conclude that in the context of organizational
knowledge management, traditional systems must be
distinguished from novel systems such as DT regarding
data ownerships and integration options in knowledge
management routines. In addition, in I4.0 systems
increasingly make decisions autonomously, apply
knowledge, and thus change their role from enablers to
active participants in value creation [57].
4.4. Technology
The WSF element “technology” stands for the
hard- and software in a work system and covers
numerous themes of the DT discussion. Following this
understanding, the themes system, robot, and tool were
assigned to the element technology. The systems
discussed in DT literature are focused on data and are
used in the manufacturing process of products [e.g.
57]. A DT is not independent of other already existing
IS of a company. Instead, we found enterprise systems
such as enterprise resource planning systems or
manufacturing execution systems mentioned as data
suppliers for the DT [48]. The design of the
cooperation and especially the data flows and
integration between the software and hardware systems
is therefore of particular importance, making the field
of enterprise architecture management a focal topic.
Enterprise architecture incorporates all principles,
methods, and models used to design and implement the
organizational structure, processes, and information
technology (IT) infrastructure [20]. Enterprise
architecture management includes, among other things,
controlling the introduction and operation of IS [20].
With newly emerging systems like DT in the age of
I4.0, care must be taken to use these well-known and
established fields such as enterprise architecture
management. It has to be examined how the novel
systems and the existing ones are to be integrated
within the organization, possibly using an agile
approach to enterprise architecture management due to
the high interconnectedness of the involved
components.
As the discourse on DT illustrates, robots and tools
are seen as hardware parts that constitute the physical
part of the CPS [48]. Monitoring the numerous hard-
and software assets to get real-time information about
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their position and state becomes increasingly important
[31]. Configurable machines should be able to organize
themselves and find an ad-hoc solution for an optimal
production process. For such an autonomous mode of
operation, the modularization of processes and
machines is crucial. The basis for this modularization
is a fundamental compatibility of the various
components. Therefore, we see the area of (IT) asset
and configuration management as a fundamental
management field for DT. It addresses the
administration of large heterogeneous IT
infrastructures to observe where assets are located and
which status or configuration they are in [25]. Such
basic IT infrastructure management tasks must be
provided reliably and automatically as the basis for
complex manufacturing systems. This also applies to
DT, where asset and configuration management now
has to deal with extensive CPS. If the underlying IT
services fail, e.g. in the network area, companies are at
risk of losing the basis for the more sophisticated I4.0
IT services and systems. Organizations must, therefore,
ensure that the underlying basic services have a very
high level of reliability and availability in order to be
able to use systems such as DT productively.
4.5. Products and Services
The WSF element “products or services” deals with
the actual result of the work system. The absence of a
verbalization of the added value that a DT should
provide is noticeable. We believe that the themes of
product and model most closely match an actual result
that represents the added value of the DT. Analytics
and simulation appeared to be the most important
aspects identified by analyzing the themes product and
model (data, knowledge, and simulation models). In
respect to services, which a DT performs, the
simulation of different scenarios in production is
spoken of first and foremost. In this context,
simulations based on real process data can be used to
optimize a production line [45]. Application cases from
product health management, such as the monitoring of
current runtime data and parameters, as well as
predictive maintenance, are also discussed. Based on
our findings we suggest considering the central output
of DT as IT services, e.g. an analytics service or a
simulation service. For this reason, we consider the
area of IT service management as the fundamental
management field responsible for the value delivery of
a DT covering the ‘how’ to provide a product or
service. IT service management is a key activity to
ensure, for example, the services of smart products
(based on DT) from planning through operation and
phasing out [1], which implies that a DT itself needs
PLM for its own services.
For the 'what is provided', it can be seen that DT,
with its cyber-physical implementation, are very close
to the concept of product-service systems. Product
service systems can be regarded as a combination of
tangible products and intangible services to satisfy the
requirements of a user and are often discussed in the
context of reducing environmental impact [7]. This
leads us to conclude that DT can support servitization,
but it is open whether the physical part of DT remains
the property of the producer or passes into the
ownership of the consumer. However, it is important
that not only the producer or owner manages the
physical part as an asset [7], but that the DT can also
manage itself independently in the sense of an
autonomous system. Supporting [56], we suggest that
DT should be regarded as important enablers for the
design of new smart product-service systems in
organizations.
4.6. Strategy, Environment, and Infrastructure
The WSF element “strategy” provides a context to
a work system. Even if the strategies of enterprise,
department, and work system do not necessarily have
to be formalized, they should be aligned [5]. We have
been able to find topics related to strategies, such as the
changing role of the human factor in the factory as well
as the change in current technologies, which leads to
the transformation of the business [50]. We identified
the aspect of the recurring pattern of transformation in
the DT discourse. From this, we conclude that digital
transformation management is a strategic management
field that is closely linked to the introduction of DT.
Digital transformation describes the change process
triggered by the use of new technologies in the
organization [30]. It needs to be considered that this
can entail changes up to the level of the business model
when a DT is introduced. Thus, we believe the
organizational transformation caused by DT needs to
be actively managed.
The WSF element “environment” is concerned with
the external factors of a work system, which can
influence its efficiency and effectiveness. The theme of
energy was found in DT literature in regards to
processes, mainly in the form of energy consumption
as a type of data to be collected during the production
process [55]. Using the WSF element as a lens, we
could identify the concept of sustainability, which is
described in the context of the positive impacts of DT
such as a reduction of time, costs, and resource
consumption [53]. The proximity of DT to product-
service systems and PLM underlines the link between
DT and the topic of organizational sustainability. We
conclude that from an environmental perspective
sustainability management is an important field to
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consider. In this context, the circular economy is being
discussed, a concept that aims to preserve the value of
products and resources as long as possible in the
economy in order to minimize waste generation [24].
Typical DT services to address this task are, for
example, predictive maintenance which can lead to
machines remaining usable for longer and continuous
monitoring to reduce waste. The DT can support long-
lasting design and reconfigurability through its
simulation capabilities. We believe organizations
should consider modern systems such as DT as a
means to shrink or close resource loops and thus
support the ideas of the circular economy.
The third WSF element outside of a specific work
system is “infrastructure”. The theme network can be
assigned to this element. An important step for the
development of DT is securing the communication
between the individual system components, which is
guaranteed by a network connection. The
communication between the individual elements can
take place on different levels in increasing context size:
on a lower level from machine to machine over
communication on factory-level up to cross-factory or
even cross-value creation partner-level [48]. By
analyzing the subcorpus through the WSF element
lens, it became clear, that the managerial field to
manage this theme is indeed infrastructure
management, as the communication infrastructure is a
vital part of the DT [3]. This again supports enterprise
architecture management as an important topic as well
as IT service management. If one considers the
lifecycle approach of DT from design over production
to usage, it becomes clear that this infrastructure
management spans multiple companies. At the
organizational level, this means that mechanisms and
agreements must be found in order to operate DT in
value creation networks.
5. Discussion
In this section, two exemplary themes are used to
illustrate how the under-discussed managerial fields in
the DT discourse can be elaborated on. It is noticeable
that the topic strategy in connection with DT is only
scarcely addressed. No paper which argues decisively
for a comprehensive strategy for DT was found in the
corpus. However, there are already first approaches for
maturity models [41], which examine the I4.0
readiness of enterprises and contain a strategy
dimension. Yet, it was found that the strategy
dimension was the least developed one of an examined
company. The authors attribute this to a missing I4.0
roadmap, which indicates the necessity of designing
strategies in the DT and I4.0 area. The WST
emphasizes the alignment of strategies of a work
system with strategies at surrounding hierarchical
levels [5] to ensure effectiveness and efficiency. The
topic of aligning different strategies, in general, has
been addressed [16] and the well-known approach of
the strategic alignment model (SAM) has been
developed. A dominance on the side of the IT domain
can currently be observed in the DT discourse. If one
follows the logic of the SAM, it is a possible first step
for companies striving for I4.0 to formulate a clear IT
strategy, on the basis of which a business strategy can
be derived, in order to adapt the business processes
accordingly. Thereby the DT can successfully be
integrated into the organizational routines. An optimal
alignment between the different strategies and a
correspondingly high probability of success in the
implementation of I4.0 could be achieved through this
approach. Another possibility is a hybrid approach
called digital business strategy [51], which pursues a
balanced fusion of business and IT strategies due to the
increasing importance of IT technologies. It might be a
promising way to introduce the DT in a way that the
triggered transformation even leads to new business
models. Therefore, we propose that from the point of
view of IS research, a stronger focus should be placed
on discussing technical phenomena such as DT in a
managerial and strategic context.
Another important concept that was severely
underrepresented in the literature review is that of a
human actor. It could be verified that the human factor
appears only as a minor note in the discourse. The
human being is an essential factor in a holistic IS or
socio-technical system. Even though in the context of
DT and I4.0 there is a huge focus on automation and
autonomous acting CPS, a factory still requires humans
to work with the machines or at least to maintain them.
In this area, there are different approaches regarding
the connection between humans and machines. For
example a DT framework to model the human-machine
collaboration was developed [32]. The DT in the
framework includes the human as an integral part of
the human-robot hybrid work environment, which
needs to ensure, that no harm is caused to the human
part in the shared workstation. A different take on
human integration in the I4.0 concept is presented by
[22]. A so-called social factory connects human
workers, machines, and data into a system resembling
a social network. In order to enable human workers to
engage with the machines using natural language,
chatbots are employed to give recommendations or to
initiate appropriate actions. As these papers indicate,
research regarding the human factor in the context of
I4.0 exists, but we argue that the discussion about this
important aspect needs to be intensified.
Page 5458
It should be noted that DT can be seen as a
cognitive artifact that can influence organizational
routines. In order to design cognitive artifacts in such a
way that the human agency is promoted, the design
decisions must be at least partially human-centric. Our
appeal is, therefore, to open up two lines of research.
On the one hand, how DT are to be integrated into the
organization and how they change it, and on the other
hand, which design principles need to be considered
for such systems. One question arises in the context of
the DT discourse: Does the human being and the
organization have to be adapted in order to be able to
use CPS or do the systems have to be designed
organization- and human-centric? Arguably one of the
reasons that computer-integrated-manufacturing, an
early approach to digitalize the production process,
failed, is the strong focus on technology and the
disregard of implications on organization and human
workers [36]. It should be prevented that the upcoming
fourth industrial revolution is impeded or even fails
because of the same misconception.
6. Conclusion
This paper aims to answer the research question
which managerial fields might arise in the context of
DT as socio-technical systems. For this purpose, a
literature review was conducted which examined the
DT discourse from the perspective of the WSF in order
to derive managerial fields. Based on this, we could
show, what the understanding of these managerial
fields is. Furthermore, we showed, how DT can be
used in these fields and which factors have to be
considered. Our work has implications for practice and
research. For practice, the paper provides information
on which management fields can be affected if a DT is
introduced. The paper provides first hints on how a DT
can be used in the organization. For research, it could
be shown that DT can be classified as cognitive
artifacts, which allows the investigation of the effects
its introduction has on organizational routines.
Nevertheless, the present paper is subject to some
limitations. The focus of the literature review was very
strict and the managerial fields are still not
comprehensive.
Numerous questions arise for future research. We
believe that a research agenda can be derived along the
WSF, which we would summarize as follows:
Which changes in PLM result from the use of DT,
in particular from the use of simulations?
Which design paradigm, technology or human-
centered, should be followed for the development
of DT?
How autonomous should DT be and how to deal
with the risk factor in the context of artificial
intelligence in manufacturing?
Which challenges arise for classical data
governance in the age of I4.0?
What roles do DT play in organizational
knowledge management - enabler for humans or
active participants?
How can DT be integrated into existing enterprise
architectures and to what extent do they change
it?
How can DT be conceptualized as the basis for
product-service systems?
To what extent do DT change business models
and how big is the transformative character in
relation to the organizational strategy?
What effects do DT have on organizational
processes, routines, and human work?
What role do DT play for sustainability
management?
Do company boundaries represent obstacles for
DT use, or can a DT be a cross-organizational
platform?
We believe that we were able to contribute to
practice and research by providing companies with
initial managerial fields and by highlighting several
research gaps in the DT discourse.
7. Acknowledgements
The research in this paper was supported by a grant
from the German Ministry for Research and Education
(BMBF), project name: Co-TWIN, nr: 02P17D146.
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