In the business world, it’s important to look forward and think about where the future is heading. As one part of that, you may have heard of quantum computing or perhaps the importance of building a quantum workforce.
Suppose you aren’t sure what this could mean for the business world in general. In that case, the following are things to know about quantum computing and its potential implications in business in general.
What is Quantum Computing?
A quantum computer is a machine that uses quantum physics principles and properties to store data and perform computations. A quantum computer can have advantages for certain tasks because they outperform even leading-edge supercomputers.
Quantum computers are compelling not only because of how quickly they can solve problems but also because they do in a way that consumes less energy than classical computers, which are also called binary computers.
The quantum part of the phrase quantum computing refers to the quantum mechanics that the system uses in the calculation of outputs. A quantum is the smallest discrete unit of a physical property in physics. Quantum usually is in reference to properties of either atomic or subatomic particles, like electrons, neutrons, and photons.
In quantum computing, a qubit is the basic unit of information, and it’s similar to bits in classical computing. However, a classical bit is binary, while a qubit can have a superposition of all states that are possible.
General Applications of Quantum Computing
A quantum computer excels in some particular areas, including:
These computers work well for modeling other systems that are also quantum. That means they can handle complex or ambiguous systems that would otherwise overload another type of computer. For example, complex molecular formations can be modeled with quantum systems.
The idea of optimization might be increasingly relevant to businesses as it relates to quantum computing. Optimization in the broadest, general sense means finding a solution to a problem that’s best, given any constraints along with the desired outcome.
In business, you’re always making critical decisions based on factors like quality and cost, as well as production time. These are elements you can optimize. When you run optimization algorithms inspired by quantum computing, you have the opportunity to identify new and exciting solutions.
Machine learning is happening on classical computers and certainly changing the business world, but that can mean a high computational cost, limiting some of the development. Quantum computing may allow for faster machine learning in the future, which is something in the works right now.
A quantum algorithm developed in the 90s sped up the solution to data searches that were unstructured in a new way, leading to fewer steps in the search process than what could be facilitated by a classical algorithm. As more and more people become educated in the field, from machine learning certificate programs all the way to PhDs, these changes will undoubtedly move forward at an exponentially fast pace.
The Limitations of Super Computers
A lot of understanding the value of quantum computers depends on understanding the limitations of other options like supercomputers.
First, supercomputers don’t necessarily have the working memory that will allow them to manage the combinations that occur in real-world problems.
A supercomputer has to go through each combination and analyze, one after another, which is time-consuming. We can look at a highly relevant business example right now—a logistics company that delivers to 50 cities.
They want to figure out the best route that’s optimized to save on fuel expenses. This is so important right now as gas prices are soaring, and we’re facing supply chain issues.
A supercomputer would have to individually go through every possible combination to find one that’s optimized, whereas quantum computing can come up with much faster solutions.
Quantum computers can create multidimensional spaces in a way supercomputers can’t. They use quantum wave interference algorithms that identify solutions within this multidimensional space. We then get as output things that we can understand and apply in business and daily life.
You might have an idea in your mind that a quantum computer is massive because of the power they provide in terms of computing. They aren’t that big, though. They’re around the size of a regular refrigerator.
Quantum Computing in Business
With quantum computers an estimated 100 million times faster than any classical computer, the following are some of the ways that these machines could affect business, aside from what we’ve already touched on:
- A lot of businesses are investing in quantum computing right now, including medical businesses. These computers can manage rapid DNA sequencing. They’re also being invested in by transportation and logistics companies since they can do things like predicting future traffic volume.
- Most experts feel quantum computing will play a role in curing cancer and other big feats like reversing the effects of the climate chain.
- These computers can help with the understanding of biology and evolution.
- Many big tech companies are investing in the quantum computing space, including Microsoft Azure, Google, and Amazon.
- AT&T partnered with the California Institute of Technology to create the Alliance for Quantum Technologies. The goal of the partnership is to bring together academia, government, and industry to speed up quantum technology development and also the emergency of practical applications.
- There are quantum-based startups like IonQ that have raised tens of millions of dollars so far.
- There’s a term called quantum supremacy that companies like Google are competing for, meaning that a quantum computer can perform calculations no classical computer could in a reasonable period of time.
- Some experts argue that rather than quantum supremacy, the goal should be quantum practicality, meaning that this technology can deliver unique and potentially life-changing solutions.
We’re still ways out—may be anywhere from five to 10 years—before quantum computing will deliver meaningful value that’s relevant to most businesses. Still, many companies are taking advantage of new opportunities and investing now, understanding the potential impact.