It’s New Year’s Eve 2030. You’re doing a last-minute shop but it’s far less stressful than it was a decade ago. Your home assistant already knows what you need. If you did venture out, your local store will have everything ready the moment you walk in without the need to book click and collect.
If that sounds fanciful, huge changes to our lives are coming sooner than you might think, driven by quantum computing. The race to develop the quickest technology is getting serious. Hot on the heels of Google’s announcement that it can complete calculations far quicker than supercomputers, comes the claim from Chinese scientists that their quantum machines can do the sums 100 trillion times faster.
The theory goes that if these computers can be built at scale, they could alter physics beyond the current limits of our understanding. So what does this mind-boggling development mean for readers of Decision Marketing?
I believe we’re about to witness the transformation of data. In fact, it won’t just change; it will disappear before our eyes.
Don’t worry, I’m not talking about the destruction of the entire data industry. On the contrary, I believe it will become part of the fabric of everyday life, working silently under the radar to the extent we’ll barely think about it.
Today, up to three-quarters of UK consumers distrust data collection by brands, search engines and social media platforms. It’s still a hot topic of debate. Very soon, however, exchanging data for slicker lifestyles and better offers will become so commonplace – driven by a new acceptance underpinned by quantum computing – that those figures will surely shrink to nothing.
Thanks to the Internet of Things, Alexa – or whatever the leading home assistant platform is in a decade’s time – will know what you’re running short of and deliver it without you having to ask. No one will bat an eyelid.
Future consumers will each have a data “fingerprint”; their data DNA will be part of a larger, unseen global force that powers everything from healthcare to haircare. Opting out won’t be an option, because anyone who does will end up among the “data dispossessed”.
Of course, this will all bring upheaval to the wider marketing industry. No longer will there be a need for prospect lists; advertising will automatically find the right consumers through powerful computing, artificial intelligence and machine learning. As communications fragment, computers will devise and deliver creative around your latest whim just as soon as you want something.
You might wonder how the governments of tomorrow will regulate quantum computing given they are only just beginning to challenge big tech that has been around for decades.
It’s also worth remembering that any technology revolution comes with potential disaster in the shape of bad actors. If there are quantum computers generating infinite data, others will soon be created for the sole purpose of high-value cybercrime.
But that’s for the future. For now, let’s try to get our heads around the sheer power of quantum computing that is coming our way, and prepare for the invisible power of data that will seamlessly transform the way we live.
Bill Portlock is managing director of Metrix Data Science