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The quantum countdown: are we ready for the next big thing?

By Alex Miarli:

The word “quantum” often leads to images of sci-fi theories and futuristic technologies that have yet to be invented. Yet, it’s a technology that’s been silently weaving itself into the fabric of our daily lives for years.


There’s no doubt about it, quantum will be the ‘next big thing’. From the magnetic fields found in MRI scanners to the gravity sensors that precisely map everything below ground level, it’ll revolutionise industries like healthcare, finance, cybersecurity and logistics overnight. Quantum is no longer a distant future, but a rapidly approaching present.


But if it’s the ‘next big thing’, with elements on the brink of transitioning into commercial applications, why do so few businesses care about quantum? And more so, why isn’t the media more interested in it?


Tick-tock goes the innovation clock

One of the most common questions that many quantum industry experts get is essentially, “How soon is the quantum revolution?” And this is why so few are interested.


The timeline is part of the problem. People want their pain points solved today, not in five or ten years, as is the case with quantum. Moreover, the news cycle is driven by real stories that are immediate or happening there and then. This is something that quantum technologies can’t deliver on right now.


However, it’s important to understand that while computing, sensing and communications applications all use quantum science, they’re different technologies with different applications and, therefore, have different timelines.


Quantum sensing, for example, boasts applications nearing commercial deployment, ready to revolutionise fields like biomedical research, construction and imaging. In contrast, quantum computing, capable of outperforming traditional computers, still needs a few more years, with some early predictions as soon as the next three to five years.


The other part of the problem is arguably the most common question: “what even is quantum?”


Quantum struggles with a veil of complexity, its jargon-laden language creating a wall that can even alienate industry professionals. Terms like “superposition” and “quantum entanglement” sound more like lines from the latest Marvel movies rather than the building blocks of the next technological leap. Journalists who don’t specialise in the topic put it in the ‘too hard’ pile and think their readers won’t be ready for it. They’re interested in readily digestible narratives, not a PhD thesis.


So, what can be done?

The face of a clock
The clock is ticking...

The communication challenge

Just like Generative AI became everything, everywhere, all at once, the potential for a quantum “big bang” looms on the not-so-distant horizon. Thankfully, there are ways to keep interests piqued until it arrives. But the industry must first overcome its biggest challenge: communication.


Messaging has been the quantum industry’s biggest PR hurdle, where it often focuses solely on the ‘how’ rather than the ‘why.’ Experts can get bogged down trying to explain the inner mechanics of the technology when really it should be addressing the target audience’s challenges. If it fails to connect with the audience’s pain points, any message will become irrelevant, no matter how revolutionary it may be.


There’s a chasm between the potential and the perception of quantum technology.

The quantum solution

The industry must start by demystifying quantum. And that begins with dissecting the applications. Most people still don’t realise the different applications of quantum, as the focus in the media is mostly on encryption and quantum computing.


Yet, other applications already have existing or near-term applications of quantum that are reshaping industries. Take the likes of GPS sensor technology, materials science or early-stage drug discovery. Its impact is tangible and immediate. That’s where the focus should be, helping quantum to be a “now” issue.


Yet to make it more digestible, there’s a need to translate the complex science into clear, relatable narratives that address the pain points of its target audience. So, instead of saying, “We sell quantum technology,” say, “We understand your problem and have a way to solve it.” Then tell a story about how.


That also means ditching the jargon.


Instead of phrases like “quantum entanglement,” talk about “unhackable communication.” When discussing the intricacies of “quantum superposition,” instead refocus it into “unlocking the potential of every molecule.” Paint a picture that everyone can understand and then explain how it improves lives, rather than explain what quantum does. That’s what resonates. Further illustrate this with real-world case studies to show how companies are already using the technology to solve specific problems.


All this helps to give quantum technology a story that interests potential business partners as well as the media, while also making it a “now” issue.


Getting ready for the quantum revolution

Just like AI redefined many industries and reshaped our lives, quantum technology is poised to rewrite the rules of every industry. However, unlocking quantum’s power hinges not on the technology itself, but on effectively communicating its potential.


By embracing clarity, simplicity and storytelling, can we then bridge the gap and ensure the media – as well as businesses – are not just aware of the coming quantum revolution, but are actively prepared to capitalise on it.


Yes, it’ll take time to change perceptions and it won’t happen overnight, which is why this challenge of demystifying quantum must begin now; it already has the perfect partner in PR. In a similar fashion, PR efforts also require consistency and a dedication to simple, impactful communication. It’s time to stop waiting for the ‘next big thing’ and start preparing for it today.


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