Understand the realities and misconceptions about quantum computing. Now is the time to prepare to embrace the quantum shift.

Kiran Minnasandram, CTO and VP

March 28, 2024

5 Min Read
digital abstract of quantum computing
vchalup via Adobe Stock

Quantum computing is one of the hottest and most fascinating frontiers in computing, but for many leaders, it remains shrouded in mystery. Much of that mystery stems from the core differences that set quantum computing apart from conventional computers. 

The key difference is that quantum computers use a different unit of information. While traditional computing relies on bits, each representing either 0 or 1, quantum computing employs qubits. Unlike binary bits, which can only exist in one of two states, qubits can exist in multiple states simultaneously. This phenomenon, known as superposition, enables qubits to encode and process information differently than classical bits.   

Some people also assume that because quantum computers work on something as “science fictional” as quantum mechanics, they are better than traditional computers at all tasks and will ultimately replace traditional computer architecture. This is simply not true. To put this into perspective, look at the expected growth of quantum computing. Advancements in quantum computing are anticipated to unfold slowly: McKinsey's projections suggest that by 2030, approximately 5,000 quantum computers will be in operation. For most day-to-day tasks, today’s traditional computers are ideal and will never be replaced by quantum computers -- nor should they. That would be like trying to kill a mosquito with a cannon rather than a flyswatter. 

Related:Cybersecurity's Future: Facing Post-Quantum Cryptography Peril

How Quantum Computers Will Change Our World 

So, for what tasks are quantum computers suitable? Essentially, quantum computers are well suited for tasks that have a higher degree of complexity than traditional computer architectures are practically capable of handling. Let’s look at a few areas where quantum computers can make a dramatic difference. 

One area is cybersecurity. Quantum computers, when fully realized, could efficiently solve certain mathematical problems that form the basis of widely used cryptographic protocols, such as factoring large numbers. That threatens the security of conventional encryption algorithms like RSA and ECC. This change can make an enormous difference in many communications and transactions that require security, including the financial sector, business, government and defense, law enforcement, and private medical records. 

Another critical area that quantum computers may revolutionize is biology. Analyzing systems such as genomes and protein interactions may provide vital insights for drug discovery. But even with the most advanced artificial intelligence today, modeling can take months if one runs the analysis on a traditional computer. With a quantum computer, one greatly speeds up the process of arriving at new insights, and, therefore, new therapeutics. 

Related:Why Quantum Computing's Future Lies in the Cloud

In the financial sector, quantum computing has the potential to revolutionize tasks such as risk assessment, portfolio optimization, and algorithmic trading. Quantum algorithms can analyze vast amounts of financial data and identify complex patterns and correlations quickly and accurately. This capability enables more robust risk management strategies, more efficient asset allocation, and the development of sophisticated trading algorithms. Furthermore, quantum computing holds promise for enhancing cybersecurity in financial transactions, ensuring secure and tamper-proof communication and data storage for banking and trading operations. 

Although it’s clear from these examples that quantum computing has the potential to revolutionize many fields, it’s easy for business leaders to feel lost when considering any breakthrough technology. Here are a few things to keep in mind as this technology unfolds. 

Tips for the Transition to Quantum Computing 

1. Set aside the classical view.  

You must temporarily forget everything you know about computers to make room for the new quantum computing paradigm. Be ready to retrain your brain to think not in terms of how data is stored in bits and bytes but in terms of “multistates” and qubits.  

Related:8 Essential Technologies for Business Success in 2024

There’s also a substantial difference in how you define a transaction in classical versus quantum computing. Jettison the concepts of databases, traditional data structures and storage, and other features of classical computing. Make room in your brain for a whole new way of programming for quantum computers. 

2. Prioritize having the right talent. 

Quantum computing is a completely different approach to using computers, so you can’t expect to get by with the same sort of talent you’ve always relied on. In order to thrive in the coming quantum computing landscape, organizations will need top talent in several key areas. 

That may include engineering talent and people who understand quantum physics and quantum information theory. But it may also include developers proficient in programming languages such as Qiskit (for IBM's quantum computers), Cirq (for Google's quantum processors), or other quantum programming languages. 

3. Understand there is no "general use" quantum computer yet. 

Although key tech companies work in quantum computing, there are still no general-purpose quantum computers. Instead, each project has a specific use case. Creating a general-purpose quantum computer is at least a few years away.  

That’s important to remember because you can’t assume that, as with traditional computers, you can use quantum computers for any task. However, that era may be coming, so it is crucial to prepare for it. 

4. Invest in quantum-ready infrastructure. 

As organizations prepare for the quantum computing era, investing in infrastructure supporting quantum computing workflows is essential. This includes upgrading computing infrastructure to accommodate the unique requirements of quantum computing, such as ultra-low temperatures and precise control systems. 

Additionally, consider investing in quantum-safe cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive data from potential quantum attacks. By proactively investing in quantum-ready infrastructure, organizations can ensure they are well-positioned to integrate and harness the power of quantum computing when the technology matures. 

Embrace the Quantum Shift 

Just as we’ve seen with the rise of the internet, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and video calls, quantum computing will be a reality. Companies beginning to get invested in it now will be well positioned to enjoy the coming wave of new opportunities that this exciting new technology will bring. 

Rather than waiting on the sidelines, organizations should proactively explore ways to integrate quantum technology into their operations and strategies. By investing in quantum computing early, businesses can gain a competitive edge and unlock new avenues for innovation and growth. Start familiarizing yourself with the field, clear out the old misconceptions, and actively seek opportunities to prepare for the impending transition. 

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Quantum Computing

About the Author(s)

Kiran Minnasandram

CTO and VP, Wipro Limited

Kiran Minnasandram is a chief technology officer with over 30 years of professional IT experience. With expertise in digital initiatives and technology transformation, Kiran has consistently driven substantial business growth and innovation. Kiran's extensive experience spans various sectors, particularly Capital Markets and Banking, where he has successfully led transformative programs and provided strategic technological consulting to global clientele. Known for his strategic foresight and leadership, Kiran has spearheaded numerous vital initiatives, including multi-year technology roadmaps, cloud strategies, and high-throughput transaction processing systems, demonstrating his exceptional technical leadership skills and ability to deliver impactful solutions.

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