Although it is still at an early stage, there is no doubt that the quantum computing revolution is coming fast around the corner. All industries have serious gains to be made.
Accenture strongly advise enterprises to find out more about the fast evolving market and identify where quantum computing will impact the business, to prepare with quantum-ready applications. This is apt advice. For an organisation to have a competitive advantage, it is imperative that leaders adjust to new waves of disruptive technologies.
In their 2017 research report on the early commercial applications of quantum computing, leading Google Researchers outlined the short-term opportunities for enterprises. They claim that new technology can improve business in three ways: “by increasing revenue, reducing costs or lowering investments in infrastructure.”
If early quantum-computing devices can offer even a modest increase in computing speed or power, early adopters will reap the rewards. “Rival companies would face high entry barriers to match the same quality of services and products, because few experts can write quantum algorithms, and businesses need time to tailor new algorithms. The markets that are most open to such disruptions are information-rich and digital, and involve business challenges that rely on many variables. Such markets include financial services, health care, logistics and data analytics”.
Making the Business Case For Quantum
Making a business case also requires companies to examine demand and supply. Demand can be assessed as follows: First, identify the ‘minimal viable products’ — early quantum innovations with just enough core features to enter the market. Estimate whether the innovation solves an existing need (product–market fit), the time it would take to commercialise the product (speed to market) and the market’s response (business traction).
For example, encryption breaking — often portrayed in the media as a ‘killer application’ for digital quantum computers — does not score highly in terms of market fit. “It will one day be superseded by cryptosystems that are immune to quantum attack. And most private enterprises are uninterested in breaking encryption systems.”
By contrast, portfolio optimization and risk management need immediate data feedback and could benefit from quantum-enhanced models.
“More efficient quantum-chemistry calculations would revolutionize the development of pharmaceuticals, catalytic converters, solar cells and fertilizers. Quantum-assisted optimization and inference techniques could empower new machine-learning and AI systems.”
The researchers claim these could improve the management of renewable power generators, and of remote-sensing and early-warning systems.
“The techniques would also aid dynamic pricing for online goods and services, as well as warehouse automation and self-driving cars.”
On the supply side, companies will distinguish themselves through the quality of their technology and teams by adopting a quantum strategy. “Pioneering quantum academics and entrepreneurs will have to work together. This will be challenging because academic incentives are often inconsistent with those of start-up cultures and industry.”
Strategic partnerships can help businesses to stand out. To attract venture capitalists, the winning quantum products should have business models that require few assets, are low on manufacturing costs and clearly help customers to increase their revenues. Through the cloud, a company could benefit from using existing data centres when applying classical solvers to simple problems, and invoke quantum processors when it matters.
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