News and Insights

Telling a story that doesn’t yet exist

February 26, 2020

Storytelling is essential to what we do as communicators. But how do you begin to tell the story of an evolving technology just as you begin to grasp its implications? Take quantum computing. From medicine to aviation, research universities and companies across industries are already exploring uses for this technology and it’s more likely than not that our clients are, too. Therefore, it’s vital that as communicators, we begin thinking about this technology now in order to understand how we can begin to tell the story.  

At its most basic level, quantum computing is a completely new way of calculating data. It uses quantum physics to create new and better types of calculations that would take classical or, “regular,” computers hundreds of years to accomplish. Think of the difference like this: like a classical computer, the human body can only do one movement at a time, such as either walk or stand still—it cannot do both. However, if the human body were a quantum computer, it could do the equivalent of both walk and run at the same time. While quantum computers will outperform classical computers, they will not replace them. Rather, they will provide an additional tool for creating new discoveries such as predicting weather patterns in a way that helps prevent climate change, or helping pharmacists create better medications.

For most of our clients, quantum computing is a story that cannot yet be told because the technology is not widely used. However, just because it isn’t mainstream doesn’t mean that it won’t be, and sooner than we think. Gartner projects that, “by 2023, 20 percent of organizations will be budgeting for quantum computing projects,” to say nothing of the efforts by nation-states such as China and Russia in developing their own capabilities. Furthermore, corporations such as IBM are already putting massive resources towards developing their capabilities through corporate and university partnerships and others, such as Delta are exploring ways the technology could benefit their business.

Just as data analytics has impacted how we serve clients, understanding the capacity of this technology will give us a leg-up as communicators.  It’s time for us to seek out partnerships with scientific and academic institutions so that PR practitioners can understand this technology and, in turn, inform our audiences of the value that such understanding will bring. Quantum computing, and technology as a whole, is leading the PR industry in a direction that requires interdisciplinary skill sets and insights into more industries than ever before. It’s only through gaining a deeper understanding of complex technologies like this that we can tell these stories in a way that help us keep pace as we hurtle towards our rapidly changing reality.