Progressive seeks industry edge with high-tech Quantum

By | 3 minute read | February 28, 2019

The science and technology world has been abuzz about quantum computers for years, which promise to solve problems beyond what classical computers ever could. The first industry applications are now being explored and it is expected that within five years quantum computing will be mainstream.

Companies like Progressive Insurance are already taking action to learn how quantum computing can be used within their organization to improve business models. At a recent IBM Q Consulting workshop at the Thomas J Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY, held in November 2018, the insurance provider explored which quantum opportunities could benefit their business model, go-to-market strategy, and the broader insurance industry.

Progressive Insurance Chief Architect Mark Thomas noted: “It’s easy to be a fast follower with some technologies, but quantum computing is different. The steep learning curve and potential for the powerful technology to grow extremely rapidly make it important to get started early. Quantum computing is a very different paradigm from the classical computing models we are familiar with today. We are excited about its potential to help us provide for our customers’ evolving needs.”

He continued, “While quantum is still more theoretical than a source of working solutions today, we want to ensure that we have the right talent and expertise in place when the time comes to take advantage of its potential business benefits.”

Quantum computing appears set to transform a number of industries. For instance, it could allow scientists to improve molecular modelling in order to discover new drugs. It could also enhance machine-learning methods that are already applied cross-industry.

Given quantum computing’s steep learning curve, it creates an incredible opportunity for those companies already investigating the technology now. A fast-follower approach is unlikely to be effective. Even if catching up were possible for specific use cases, it would likely be associated with higher costs and require more tactical actions related to buying in-house expertise, procuring access to the necessary infrastructure, funding advantageous partnerships, or acquiring a company with the necessary capabilities.

In an age of astonishing inventions and the inevitable evolution of quantum computing, it seems probable that this technology will be both a leading challenge while also a key technology enabler facing business leaders for the foreseeable future. Leaders across every industry have a huge opportunity to be a disrupter by being proactive when it comes to understanding and embracing this new technology.

Startups and partnerships between researches and technology providers will soon offer real-world capabilities suited to the business world. And although it varies widely, early market forecasts estimate the opportunity to be as much as $30 billion. The organizations that onboard sooner with quantum will position themselves stronger for industry leadership. Similar to emerging technologies of the last 10+ years in cloud, blockchain, and personalized ecommerce digital sites, it was the pioneers that were rewarded with innovative operating models and the ability to create first-of-kind products and experiences.

Given quantum’s potential for radical industry transformation, leading enterprises should consider acting now. The IBM Institute of Business Value report “Coming Soon to Your Business –Quantum Computing” offers five strategies to help prepare for this paradigm-shifting technology.

1. Quantum Champions: Designate leading professionals to understand the potential impact on your industry, how your competitors are responding, and how your business could benefit.
2. Use Cases: Distinguish specific areas where quantum could propel your organization ahead of the competition.
3. Problem Solving: Experiment with how quantum computing could solve your business problems and interface with your existing tools.
4. Roadmap: Identify viable next steps with the purpose of finding problems that could create formidable competitive barriers and sustainable business advantage.
5. Future Planning: Embrace flexibility since quantum computing is rapidly evolving by seeking out technologies and development toolkits that are becoming the industry standard.

Also, during the workshop, Rose Heathcote, Dustin Shammo, and Don Hummer Jr. from IBM’s Global Markets and Global Business Services Insurance Industry took note of the disruptive power of quantum computing and saw the potential to leverage its massive computing power to solve some of the most complex challenges that exist today and are not currently possible with classical computing.