February 22, 2018 | Written by: Terry Hickey
Categorized: Institute for Business Value
The business world is approaching a transitional moment. In the coming years, quantum computers for commercial use will be able to perform complex calculations that outpace even the most robust standard computers. The difference is in the processing — quantum computers can handle certain calculations faster than their conventional counterparts. Quantum has the potential to reinvent business, science, and government, revealing better answers in areas like chemistry, machine learning and more.
A new report I authored for the IBM Institute for Business Value explores the benefits quantum computing could bring to businesses. Quantum may open the way for breathtaking efficiency in business processes that span everything from basic logistics to complex decision-making. And it may be able to solve some of today’s known problems faster and provide new tools for solving future problems.
Quantum at work
Consider a logistics problem that involves 50 items, such as a travel itinerary with 50 cities or a shift work schedule for 50 people. Humans have typically made these types of decisions using intuition or prior experience. Calculating the most cost-effective sequence could take years on a powerful supercomputer, and even then, the answer would be an approximation.
A quantum computer could potentially solve for the best solution in minutes. Discovering the best answer, instead of an estimated answer, would raise client satisfaction. Optimal approaches could provide customers with more precise services and potentially help the company stay an industry leader.
Prepare for quantum now
Now is the time for business leaders to prepare for the quantum era. Here are some recommended first steps:
- Engage now, especially if your organization is involved in chemistry, optimization or machine learning.
- Assign a quantum champion who can attend conferences and workshops, and assess competing approaches to quantum computing.
- Evaluate which areas of your business may benefit from, or be disrupted by, quantum computing, and which approach may work best for you.
- Acquire the right team. Quantum computing is different from conventional computing, right down to replacing the “bit,” the base unit of information. People who are open to new problem-solving approaches should be at the top of your list. Consider those in advanced analytics.
- Experiment with a real quantum computer. Quantum processors are available in the IBM Cloud. Explore the tutorials and simulators and program your own algorithms.
As essential as conventional computing is, it has limits. Quantum computing augments your current environment but represents a radical new paradigm that may contribute to your solution suite. Organizations that seek to be in the forefront of this transformational shift will seize competitive leadership. Will you take the leap?
To learn more, read the full report.