Bringing Tech Stories Back Down To Earth

Oh, the irony!  The same explosive acceleration of technical innovation that we sometimes disparage as the newspaper’s executioner simultaneously drives the demand for more sources of more information on the latest developments in the technology world.  Every hour of every day witnesses groundbreaking technical advancements, and someone needs to do the dirty job of informing the public.  I’ll save the debate on print media and journalism for another post, but I find it interesting that the media – including traditional print and broadcast outlets, blogs and social media – must somehow keep up with the world of technology’s rapid and exponential expansion as the media landscape changes at a somewhat slower pace.

What does this mean for PR and IT companies?  The faster technology evolves, the more stories there are to tell, and the shorter amount of time those stories remain relevant.  We’re suffering from an abundance of innovation right now.

Take cloud computing, for example.  The jury’s still out on whether cloud computing makes sense for companies and whether we’ll see widespread adoption.  In fact, there’s still plenty of debate on how cloud computing should even be defined.  There’s no doubt, though, that cloud computing is a hot topic these days; it seems everyone is talking about the phenomenon.  Much of the conversation on cloud computing focuses on general adoption issues, the giants in the market (e.g. Google, Amazon) or trends substantiated by multiple smaller players.  There are certainly plenty of stories about product launches and startups breaking new ground, but these seem to have only ephemeral impact and presence. 

I started thinking about the challenge of voicing a cloud computing story recently when reading a few analyst reports on adoption rates, industry growth predictions, and ROI.  Both Gartner and McKinsey recently advocated differentiating between asset value (the value of owning hardware or software) and value-in-use (the value of IT’s impact on how a company operates).  I think we can apply this duality to storytelling as well.  The giants of cloud computing dominate conversations not only because of their size and clout, but because they’re driving both technological and business process innovation. 

Companies are doing new things in the cloud every day, and that makes innovation in that area increasingly less unique. It’s hard to compete with the big guys, and as storytellers, we need to be mindful that the pace of change affects the staying power of our stories. 

Contributed by Catharine Morgan. Follow her at @c_morgan