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Are Corporates Ready for Quantum?

The GTA Quantum team asks Are Corporates Ready for Quantum?

In our previous article, ‘Quantum is Now’, we explored that quantum introduces a radically different computing paradigm which offers us the opportunity to build a better and smarter world for future generations to come. Quantum is moving at a great pace with 1,000 qubit quantum devices projected to be available over the next 12 months [1].

As a direct result, business leaders are under increasing pressure to respond. If we are to harness the full power of this technology, corporates must move to understand it and begin to incorporate this technology into their strategies.

Quantum-powered workflows have the potential to radically revolutionise enterprise processes – making them faster, more efficient and performant [2]. Quantum could save corporates significant costs in high-performance computing resources and data centre operations, while lowering their energy consumption profile. McKinsey estimates the potential value for these industries could lie between $300 billion and $700 billion [3]. Today, enterprises are starting to see the prospect of business value from quantum computing, with some early movers working alongside research partners to develop early use cases and application areas [3]. EY recently stated that as many as 48% of business executives believe quantum will play a significant role in their industry by 2025 [4].

However, many corporates are not yet exploring quantum where they could be. Different industries are in different states of readiness – pharmaceutical, financial, and automotive industries remain some of those furthest ahead in their understanding of quantum, in comparison to healthcare, manufacturing and agriculture.

In an ESG IT spending survey, a mere 11% of organisations indicated they were actively piloting quantum technologies, 17% said they were actively testing and 24% of organisations have begun research but remain years away from production applications [5]. During a recent IBM CEO study, 89% of over 3,000 C-suite executives did not cite quantum computing as a key enabler towards delivering business success over the next few years [2]. This raises questions around whether slow adoption is due to a lack of education or a lack of funding.

So how could corporates actively prepare for the digital transformation brought by quantum?

  1. Mindset: A shift in mindset is key – corporates should not feel intimidated by this often misunderstood technology or be afraid of the term ‘quantum’. Instead they must see it as an exciting opportunity to improve their business efficiencies and returns i.e. through more accurate models for simulation, forecasting and optimisation [2].
  2. Spend: Corporates must commit to spending capital in this stage of research and development, by allocating budgets for conducting proof of technology, concept and prototyping quantum-based solutions. They should feel more comfortable spending money and failing – this is necessary for the purpose of analysing, determining and prioritising the numerous potential application areas that may benefit from quantum.
  3. Timing is key: Corporates must start early to avoid disappointment and cannot simply ‘wait and see’. Corporates have a responsibility to be organisationally ready for when quantum becomes a commercial opportunity. These organisations must prepare the technological revolution and should not bide their time until the hardware reaches a state of commercial viability. In the case where businesses risk decryption of public encryption methods for sensitive data, which comes with great security threats, action must be taken today [6]. There already exists a number of ways that corporates can prepare for the security threats that quantum imposes on the industry today. In fact, recently the GSMA, IBM and Vodafone have formed a post-quantum TelCo network taskforce. This is significant, as part of their main responsibilities is to define a roadmap towards security for the TelCo industry in a post-quantum era [7]. This is indicative of the moves being made by other industries to prepare for the impact of quantum at this stage in technological advancement.
  4. Understanding impact: Corporates must better understand quantum and what it means for their organisations. For example, they must understand how business models can be reshaped, how workflows will be impacted, how digital transformation will be accelerated, etc. They should perform an assessment on the impact of quantum to map potentially quantum-advantaged solutions to business issues or processes. They must also work collaboratively with each other to uncover the benefits of this technology for the wider industry.
  5. Digital transformation: Incorporating quantum into digital transformation roadmaps will assist in determining which legacy systems will be impacted by quantum. Quantum maturity roadmaps informed by competitor benchmarks and intelligence have been made available by industry leaders [1].
  6. Nurture talent and skills: Corporates play an important role in nurturing the talent and skills needed to harness the power of quantum. They must attract and foster a quantum-fluent talent pipeline and also invest in the development of quantum skills. These experts will in turn be able to educate other stakeholders about the potential for quantum which will be essential to making informed business decisions.
  7. Establish ethics and governance: Corporates play an important role in establishing ethics in design, deployment and management of quantum systems, as well as proactively establishing quantum governance systems. We must carefully consider the safety implications of such a powerful technology and prepare for the identifiable threats including decryption of sensitive data currently protected by vulnerable public encryption methods [6].
  8. Collaborate: Finally, corporates must unite and collaborate with each other, governments and research organisations to build a unified, stronger quantum ecosystem. Not only must these parties collaborate within Europe, but they must collaborate on a global level in order to achieve individual success.

Accelerating the quantum transformation of corporates is not easy, but necessary. Corporates who do not keep up with this paradigm shift in computation risk falling significantly behind their competitors.



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