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7 steps to jumpstart a journey to quantum readiness

Article 05-Dec-2023 Read time: min
By Guy Siviour, Patricia Garcia and Vasilis Katopodis

Fans of early 1990s TV may remember the original version of Quantum Leap, a science fiction series in which the lead character, physicist Sam Beckett, gets trapped in the past after using a quantum accelerator for time travel. Beckett, desperate to return to the present, uses the machine to bounce between periods by leaping into the bodies of different people and temporarily living their lives.

Traveling back in time for a cosmic identity swap may not be a realistic application of quantum technology, but fast-forward three decades and quantum computing is emerging as a transcendental force in the real world.

Recently, researchers at Google ran tests in which the company’s quantum computer, Sycamore, computed complex calculations in seconds rather than the 47 years it would take the fastest supercomputer to perform.1 Experts believe these types of capabilities will usher in an era of economic, technological and commercial advances unlike any we’ve ever seen.2

The quantum promise extends across the public and private sectors, prompting claims that quantum computing will eventually be used for everything from developing cures for cancer and solving climate change to increasing life expectancy and creating nuclear-fusion power.3

From a business standpoint, enterprises that fail to prepare for quantum computing will fall behind competitors that begin identifying use cases for the technology. In fact, some companies are already using early-stage quantum computing to improve satellite operational utility,4 optimize financial portfolios5 and develop antiviral binders that fight certain diseases.6

Rather than waiting for quantum computing to fully mature, enterprises should concentrate on becoming quantum ready as soon as possible.

Design a roadmap to quantum readiness

A  future in which quantum computers are reliable enough for widespread use is closer than you think. Some analysts predict several thousand quantum machines could be completely operational by 2030,7 meaning organizations have less than a decade to prepare for both the opportunities and challenges the technology will present.

Rather than waiting for quantum computing to fully mature, enterprises should concentrate on becoming quantum ready as soon as possible. Companies that explore ways to use quantum computing as the technology evolves will reap the early rewards of quantum innovations and gain competitive advantages over companies that delay adoption.

With all that’s at stake, it’s time organizations in every industry make their own quantum leap by designing a roadmap to quantum readiness. Consider this your jumping off point.

1. Start now

Beginning with the C-suite, share the quantum computing story to gain buy-in from senior executives across your organization. Leaders need to learn what’s possible with the technology and understand how it can create value for your company, both today and in the future. In time, leaders can start to align quantum capabilities with corporate strategies.

2. Get quantum safe

One of the first—not to mention essential—ways to prepare for quantum computing is to make your organization quantum safe. Bad actors and rogue states will eventually use the technology for malicious purposes and financial gain, meaning it’s imperative to have quantum-resilient systems in place before quantum computers can crack public key encryption.

3. Begin small

Once leadership is on board with quantum exploration, appoint five to 10 people within your organization to lead a quantum discovery team or guild. Members will need time and resources to learn as much as possible about the technology, so consider sponsoring formal training for your quantum team and other employees across your company who are interested in educating themselves.8

4. Sponsor hands-on learning

As team members increase their knowledge, allocate budgets so they can rent time on cloud-based quantum computers and gain hands-on experience with the systems.9 Your quantum guild can use this learning period to run pilots, create proofs of concept and experiment with different quantum hardware and algorithms.

Providing opportunities for employees to gain hands-on experience with quantum computers will accelerate your journey to quantum readiness.
5. Identify use cases

After your discovery team and others within your organization have a foundational understanding of quantum computing, they should begin collaborating with different business line leaders to identify use cases for the technology. Potential applications will vary among companies and industries, but three use cases illustrate the breadth and depth of possibilities with quantum computing:

  • Chemical simulations for use in drug research and development and in formulating chemicals to use in next-generation batteries for electric vehicles
  • Quantum-assisted optimization for use by logistics firms that need the best routes for delivery personnel and vehicles
  • Data analysis to help artificial intelligence systems learn and adapt in real time, making it easier to detect potential fraud in the finance industry10
6. Engage specialists

Quantum computers alone won’t revolutionize your business. You’ll need experts who understand how and in what unique ways to apply the technology within your organization to yield optimum results. It’s best to partner with an independent third party with quantum expertise to provide impartial guidance and ensure the best technology is used for each business use case. Ideally, your quantum partner will structure the entire quantum journey, embedding themselves in your quantum team to train and guide them through the entire process. 

7. Grow incrementally

Your quantum computing journey will be filled with ups and downs, so pace your plans for growth and give your teams time to produce secure and resilient quantum capabilities that integrate with existing classical systems. This crawl-walk-run approach allows you to build upon small successes, using insights gained through ongoing experimentation as you design and implement a production quantum application that enhances business outcomes for your company.

From fiction to fruition

How you prepare for and manage the disruptive nature of quantum computing will affect the trajectory of your business for years to come. By taking a leap of faith today and becoming quantum ready, you can harness the transformative capacity of the technology for market-redefining solutions and innovation.

Guy Siviour is a Senior Global Lead on the Quantum Tiger Team. Patricia Garcia is Lead Technical Architect and Practice Specialist and a lecturer in Quantum, Data & AI at Nebrija and U-TAD Universities. Vasilis Katopodis is a Delivery Partner in the Quantum Tiger Team.