Many companies are keeping a close eye on quantum computing because it is quickly becoming a reality. Access to quantum computing will significantly improve their business processes' effectiveness and efficiency, and many look forward to its significant benefits.
The truth is that there are billions of dollars being poured into quantum technology research and development by governments and companies on a global scale, headed by Google, Microsoft, and Intel, who seek to lead the way.
Our responsibility as entrepreneurs and executives is to educate ourselves on the reality of these machines and the potential consequences they could have, as it's not all good news.
We should educate ourselves in the best possible way about this new reality if we want to use this emerging technology to our advantage and positively impact our organizations in the long term.
Let's see what quantum computing is and how we can get used to the idea of a reality using quantum computers.
Quantum Mechanics: What Is It?
From a general standpoint, quantum mechanics studies tiny things. It aims to explain the behavior of atoms and molecules in a way that redefines our understanding to this date.
Researchers are finding ways to manipulate quantum behaviors, which will help advance the quantum field and develop new applications. So, much attention is being given to quantum physics right now, and I think it will drive how we do things in the future.
Quantum technology is changing the world as we know it. However, quantum sensors, quantum computers, and quantum security are still new technologies emerging in recent years and already showing us their incredible potential.
Quantum computers can perform high-speed and accurate molecular simulations, making them a vital tool for accelerating the discovery of new materials — including new drugs, solar panels, and polymers.
These machines will likely achieve the so-called "quantum advantage" within a few years, meaning they can perform a specific, practical task better than traditional computers.
Quantum Computing vs. Classical Computing
Quantum computing is a new and emerging field in the world of technology. It extends classical computing but with a different approach to solving problems.
Its conception dates back to the 1980s, but it is only in recent years that we have realized its great potential if only it could be further developed and implemented in our daily lives.
Quantum computing is a form of computing that has the potential to solve problems that modern computers cannot. Quantum computing uses Qubits instead of Bits, which can be in multiple states simultaneously. This so-called superposition state means the qubit exists simultaneously in both 1 and 0 states, which is different from a conventional computer that uses transistors, which can only be 1 or 0.
The main advantage of quantum computing is the ability to work with data in different dimensions at once. This feature allows quantum computers to perform many calculations simultaneously and increase their processing power exponentially, solving complex problems that are impossible on classical computers. As more qubits are linked, a quantum computer's power increases significantly.
How Will Quantum Computing Help Us?
We mainly need quantum computers to solve complex problems that we cannot solve with a classical computer. The first problem is optimization, which is when you want to find the best solution from many possible answers. The more possibilities you have, the more difficult it will be to find the most optimal solution for a problem, which is a task perfect for quantum computers.
The second problem is a simulation when you want to understand how something works without physical access to it, and you want to mimic reality. This can become especially useful for complex digital twins when you want to simulate, for example, the complex behavior of planet Earth using a digital twin or analyzing weather patterns.
Quantum computers are the new frontier in data processing. They will be able to solve currently unsolvable problems and make considerable strides in research in many fields. In the future, we might see quantum computers used in medicine, genomics, chemistry, physics, and many more. However, they can also have detrimental effects on society as a sufficiently powerful quantum computer will be able to break all existing data encryption, which is why we need post-quantum encryption rather sooner than later.
How Quantum Computers Work
The concept may be difficult to understand at first, but qubits can carry out large amounts of calculations simultaneously (even more than a traditional computer can do), which can significantly speed up the entire process of solving an issue. It means that quantum computing is much faster than regular computing when it comes to certain particularly challenging problems. To put this in perspective, in 2021, researchers from the quantum computing company D-Wave showed how a quantum computer could solve a decades-old problem three million times faster than a normal computer.
It is not only limited to the speed with which these computers operate but also encompasses more complex operations that they can handle more efficiently than a traditional computer. For example, it can calculate factors that traditional computers cannot. Quantum computing can calculate the elements of a 500-digit number in ways that conventional computers cannot.
Calculating numbers above 500 digits is challenging and time-consuming for a traditional computer to process. On the other hand, advances in factoring large numbers of 500 digits is a much faster process, improving the performance of quantum computers.
The result is faster decision-making processes within organizations as they produce more accurate results in less time, according to Peter Shor, MIT professor of applied mathematics and inventor of the renowned Shor's Algorithm.
Shor’s work has been essential in the world of quantum computing. For example, he proved in 1994 through this algorithm that the integer factorization problem can be efficiently solved on a quantum computer, fostering important advances in this field for years to come.
How Will Quantum Computing Change the World?
In the biopharmaceuticals industry, quantum computing has the potential to revolutionize molecular research and development as well as provide value downstream in production.
New drugs, for example, cost an average of $2 billion and take more than ten years to reach the market after discovery. Quantum computing could make drug discovery, drug design, and toxicity testing more efficient by reducing the reliance on trial and error and finding and combining entire new molecules by analyzing vast amounts of data.
Getting products to suitable patients more quickly and efficiently would be easier. In other words, it would improve the lives of many more patients. This milestone could be possible in the field of precision medicine, which aims to transform how it diagnoses, treats, and prevents diseases. Over the past few years, we have witnessed the development of an increasing number of personalized medicine-related devices or apps.
With the combination of quantum technology, bioinformatics, edge computing, and AI, it would be possible to think of a future where personalized medicine is a reality.
Using quantum simulation, experts can study groups of molecules, proteins, and chemicals at once, which could take thousands of years for a typical computer to do, making it possible to develop drugs faster and cheaper.
The scientists of the pharmaceutical company Roche hope that quantum simulations will speed up the development of drugs and vaccines to protect against illnesses such as Covid-19, influenza, and cancer, and perhaps even find the cure for Alzheimer's disease.
Moreover, quantum simulations could replace lab experiments, reduce research costs, and reduce animal and human testing, as they could obtain much more assertive and effective results faster for whatever purpose.
In addition, quantum computing could also benefit the industry's production, logistics, and supply chains. Thanks to optimizing logistics strategies, which can be developed as quantum computers capture and analyze more data. Such a sophisticated system could offer organizations variables, scenarios, and alternatives to optimize their processes.
Quantum computing could also benefit Chemical companies in production, R&D, and supply chain operations, for example, by improving the designs of catalysts. A catalyst is a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without being used up in the process. In other words, they provide just enough fuel to get reactions happening sooner and make them more efficient.
Catalyst can be generated or found by calculating and analyzing the properties of materials in a much more magnified and realistic way, analyzing at the atomic and subatomic levels what chemical interactions occur with the material in question. In addition, the power of quantum computers allows faster and many more chemical interactions than is usually known to occur simultaneously.
The development of new and improved catalysts could make it possible to reduce energy usage during production processes. These new catalysts might help us reduce our dependence on petrochemicals and use sustainable substances as feedstock. In addition, developing these catalysts could make carbon harmless while unlocking new possibilities.
Quantum computers are also opening the door to a whole new world of possibilities in finance — from deeper analytics to faster trading. Many large institutions use quantum computing to improve trade, transactions, and data speed.
Banks such as JPMorgan Chase have been experimenting with quantum technology to see if they can use it in their business. For example, JPMorgan Chase partnered with other world-renowned companies such as Samsung with IBM to become part of its "Q Network."
By being part of this network, these companies have access to IBM's 20 qubit computers that the company has produced in recent years.
This partnership aims to demonstrate the potential and effective way quantum computers can work in business through developing applications attesting to a commercial advantage because they run on quantum instead of traditional computers that use silicon-based chips.
These apps could improve potential areas, including financial modeling and risk analysis in the finance industry. For banks, it would mean reduced costs and faster transactions, benefiting both the bank and its customers.
So far, these experiments are in an initial phase, while more banks worldwide are joining the IBM initiative mentioned above, and quantum computers prove to bring the expected results in the coming years.
3 Business Benefits of Quantum Computing
Quantum computing has nearly limitless business potential. For example, it can help companies find new ways to innovate and create new products, similar to how it can help find new catalysts or molecules. In addition, this technology can help companies improve their supply chains and develop better customer service strategies.
Johannes Oberreuter, a Data Scientist and quantum computing expert, explains how quantum computing allows business problems to be presented in a structured way, similar to a wish list, containing all the complexities. A so-called objective function encodes all of them, which solves them in a structured manner.
When we know the origin of our businesses' obstacles or problems, we can define better strategies and action plans to eradicate them and thus improve their performance. For this reason, quantum computers can be a beneficial asset that allows us to enhance our business.
It is a new field that has the potential to change the world. So let's see how your business could benefit from it.
You might identify more marketing and sales opportunities if you could analyze data more quickly and accurately from a great number of datasets.
As a result, you could adjust your marketing and sales strategy by identifying specific market trends and predicting your business's future.
One of the main benefits of quantum computers is the remarkable capacity to process data and provide business owners with the best solutions for their company's success.
A study from 2021 revealed that 21% of companies surveyed affirmed revenue increasing as one of the main benefits that quantum computers could offer.
The data from this study showed that all industries highly value quantum computing for its ability to solve large-scale optimization problems. For example, optimizing logistics, supply chains, and scheduling are some ways this technology can help companies find better ways to manage resources and improve their bottom line.
Continuing with the above idea, data analytics from quantum computers could allow you to run more effective ad campaigns. It would feed you information on strategies that are working better and avoid those with fewer results.
Quantum computers work to optimize processes, products, services, etc., and they allow us to make much more appropriate decisions to spend less on operating expenses, personnel, administrative software, etc.
In other words, quantum computers give us systematized, accurate and helpful information that allows us to cover more processes and identify what works and doesn't in our business.
In this way, companies would need to invest less in production and distribution costs, for instance, and can better use the profits obtained thanks to them.
The use of quantum computing to solve production inefficiencies has long been a subject of debate because many people don't understand how they work. Others are still skeptical of its true potential and what it promises, as it sounds too good to be true.
A real-life example of using quantum computing in your daily business operations could be to identify how inefficient your production, delivery of products, or even your staff scheduling is from your available data.
Such is the case of the Wyoming-based company SavantX, which uses the Canadian company D-Wave Systems' services to more efficiently arrange shipping containers for better integration with incoming trucks and trains.
With the help of D-Wave, SavantX began using their Hyper Optimization Nodal Efficiency (HONE) technology to optimize port projects such as the Pier 300 container terminal at the Port of Los Angeles. Optimizations that would not have been possible without the use of quantum computing.
Spending Less on Infrastructure
Many people are skeptical, but quantum computers may also help you save money on physical infrastructure.
Say you work in transportation— quantum computers can analyze historical data quickly and accurately to help plan your route for the best results. For example, adding more routes or creating more deliveries at certain times of the day could save you money, and don't forget to factor in driver hours.
Currently, you can get these data through predictive and prescriptive analytics. However, the potential ability of a quantum computer to develop a framing that allows a machine to understand reality and how things work to offer solutions adapted to your needs may happen soon.
How Can Quantum Computers Help Me Do This?
It's easy. Its operation is so sophisticated and valuable that it will allow you to effectively study and analyze your customers' consumption patterns and traffic trends as you practice the logistics you have been implementing. Through quantum computers, we could obtain a more specific and personalized solution to adapt, solve, or create actions that help us tackle current issues or bottlenecks and benefit us in the long term.
The result would be a detailed analysis of what is happening, which will allow you to plan a better strategy or operations plan to optimize your business and make it more profitable.
Soon, quantum computers will significantly impact organizations worldwide, changing technology in ways we haven't yet fully grasped. It's time for companies to take a close look at what they can do to embrace this new technology and ensure their workforce is ready for what's coming down the pipeline.
Quantum computing is a computational technology that exploits the quantum mechanical properties of matter to perform calculations. They are different from conventional digital computers in that they use quantum bits or qubits, which can represent both a zero and a one simultaneously.
The power of quantum computing is that it can solve problems that would take longer than the universe's lifespan for a classical computer to solve. Therefore, it will be able to process issues in a concise amount of time, making for faster and more accurate results.
Quantum computing has many potential uses, such as quantum engineering, cryptography, machine learning, artificial intelligence, simulations, and optimizations. It could speed up drug discovery and help with medical research by speeding up chemical reactions or protein folding simulations.
It is also essential to understand the problems that quantum computing could bring to society. The most prominent challenge is that if organizations are not ready to transition from today’s encryption algorithms to post-quantum algorithms, quantum computing would be able to break current encryption systems, leaving organizations vulnerable to data theft.
If this problem is not solved, then many of the benefits and promises that quantum computing makes would be meaningless.
It's difficult to predict when quantum computers will become easily accessible and available, though the first room-temperature quantum computing is already developed. However, it will be a few years at the very least to be fully mass-marketed, as is currently the case with classic computers. An example of this direction is the initiative of the Canadian company D-Wave, which is currently developing and commercializing systems, software, and services related to quantum computing.
Quantum computing is the future of technology and may be a key component in the future of work, especially when converging with other technologies. Therefore, companies should embrace quantum computing, or at a minimum, obtain an understanding of the technology, to stay relevant in their respective industries.
Photo courtesy of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory