Prepare your business for the new era of quantum computing

The majority of UK business leaders (81%) expect quantum computing to disrupt the industry by 2030, according to research by EY. That’s a bold claim for an unproven technology. The UK, however, is betting that the near future will see the practical application of quantum computing across a wide range of industries.

Last year also saw the creation of the National Quantum Computing Center (NQCC). Commenting on EY’s research when it was published, Dr Simon Plant, Deputy Director of Innovation at NQCC, said: “Quantum computing is expected to significantly speed up the time to solve certain tasks, by solving computational problems that are currently unsolvable using conventional digital technologies. As a result, the pace of development is accelerating, and the question is how and when – not if – quantum computing can address industry-relevant use cases.

Triggering Quantum Disruption

We first need to quantify the claim that quantum computing will be disruptive and set it in the context of business processes. The pharmaceutical, financial and automotive sectors, for example, are likely to be early adopters. Moving away from traditional computer architectures could revolutionize the development of new drugs, for example by drastically reducing the typical ten-year development cycle and reducing the average cost by $2 billion to bring a new drug to market.

The quantum advantage, however, is fast approaching for all businesses, according to Accenture Technology UK and Ireland managing director Maynard Williams. “The power that this new generation of machines will create will begin to make these fundamental challenges achievable, with quantum at the pinnacle of next-gen problem solving. The greatest watershed moment for computing will be when quantum computers solve problems that were considered literally unsolvable – making the impossible possible.

The key to exploiting quantum computers will be to put them in context and to use these machines alongside binary computers. Conventional computers do indeed have their place in the IT landscape so that all businesses, regardless of size, can take full advantage of the next wave of technology.

“I hope the detailed quantum strategy will have a strong focus on industry skills in addition to research and development,” said Richard Hopkins, Distinguished Engineer and Fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology. from IBM. His company is one of many striving for quantum supremacy alongside D-Wave and Google. “There is a lot of value the UK could derive from being the first to apply quantum computing to real-world industrial problems, but it will require us to invest in the associated skills.

The business case for quantum

The popularity behind the adoption potential of quantum commuting is vast, as revealed by research from Fujitsu and the Tecknowlodgy Group, which takes a close look at how quantum computing could be applied in a diverse business landscape. The study found that 81% of business leaders across all industries, including manufacturing, life sciences, retail, transportation and utilities, said optimizing business processes could help them meet the challenges of digital transformation. It will also allow these companies to remain competitive in a rapidly changing market.

It is telling that there has been a profound shift in the discourse of quantum computing, with the conversation shifting from theory to how to apply the technology in practice. Now that the worst of COVID-19 is over, businesses also need to be more agile and innovate quickly, which includes figuring out how to adopt emerging and once gimmicky technologies like quantum computing. Business leaders now see this new frontier of computing as a tool in their arsenal to drive innovation, including BASF and Volkswagen, which are already using quantum algorithms within their companies.

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In March this year, HSBC detailed plans to join the IBM Quantum Accelerator program, which would give the bank access to the company’s 127-qubit processor known as Eagle. “This technology has the potential to transform the way we run the banking sectors by addressing challenges that conventional computers may never be able to solve on their own,” commented HSBC Bank plc and HSBC Europe CEO Colin Bell. , during the announcement. .

Maynard Williams of Accenture also advises companies to begin their strategic planning to shape their quantum future. “The fastest action business leaders can take in quantum readiness is to start assessing how these technologies will shape their business operations,” he says. “This will allow them to identify their knowledge and operational gaps, and begin to fill them. before it is too late.

In search of a quantum advantage

The cost of investment has, until today, positioned quantum computing almost exclusively in the realm of the enterprise. However, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups will also want to tap into its potential. Is the quantum door closed to them?

Access to technology has always shaped business cases. What we’re seeing in the market right now are major cloud service providers developing quantum-as-a-service (QaaS) platforms that deliver the highest level of computing capability to the widest possible audience. IBM has offered its quantum computers through the cloud for some time, such as AWS offering rival quantum cloud service Braket and Microsoft offering Pasqal machines through Azure.

Digital Annealer, produced by Fujitsu, is another quantum-inspired technology architecture designed to help companies solve complex combinatorial challenges beyond the capabilities of today’s computers. Although not an actual deployment of quantum computing, this technology points the way to the quantum future that many companies can see as they develop over the next decade.

In some sectors where there are many small businesses – including financial services and fintech in particular – quantum computing is seen as a potential business differentiator, and certainly a technology that could provide business benefits. Despite advances in recent years, practical applications of quantum computing in the real world won’t arrive until 2030, according to McKinsey. Until then, quantum-inspired algorithms will continue to be developed and deployed in conjunction with high-performance computing (HPC) models.

Do all companies have a quantum future? “Given the difference in nature of this technology, organizations may wish to ‘call a friend’ to help them develop their quantum strategy and begin their initial investigations,” said Scott Buchholz of Deloitte, National Director of Research. on emerging technologies and CTO for government and utilities. recount Computer professional. “Done with the right partner, this approach will save time and speed up the learning process.”

Jan Beitner, principal data scientist at Boston Consulting Group, also advises companies to take practical steps today: “Companies should start by looking at their value chain and identifying the use cases that are most relevant to them. From there, they need to quantify them and, with expert support, determine when computers can respond.From this starting point, businesses can then build a roadmap to prepare for application. and the integration of quantum as its potential is unleashed by advances in technology.

As companies seek to redesign their digital transformation roadmaps in the wake of COVID-19, quantum computing should be a component of that journey. As development continues, we are not far from a breakthrough that will see quantum computers perhaps not enter the mainstream per se, but become a transformative technology available to all businesses. The key is to have a clear deployment strategy and defined business cases for exploiting the unique properties of quantum computing.

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