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How Recent Technology Developments and Transformations in the Quantum Computing Space have Made an Impact on our Business Environment

Pinkaj Klokkenga, Director of Information Systems, Performance Food Group
Pinkaj Klokkenga, Director of Information Systems, Performance Food Group

Pinkaj Klokkenga, Director of Information Systems, Performance Food Group

Quantum Computing is no longer a buzz word. QC is all about speed, and if you are in a market where speed is the key to success, then QC is worth the time to understand and prepare for.

Why is QC important? Quantum bits can resolve computations in fractions of time using simultaneous processing to calculate all the answers to all the possibilities of the questions. Traditional systems use databases that rely on sequential processing, even if it is processing several different sequences on multiple databases, to produce results. It’s not that it can’t come up with the answer, and quickly, but that it is limited in the number of answers and the scenarios that can be simultaneously created to get infinite answers. It works like a funnel, large vessel for inputs with a small output. Instead of trying to solve problems though a funnel, where the input data components are computed to result in reduced outputs, Quantum Computing has unlimited space for calculations and therefore can yield outputs greater than the input sizes.  

Intriguing, but how can that speed help the typical company that has not identified the business challenges which may need super speed calculations? The obvious challenges are being funded and investigated by governments to determine the application of QC technologies. The first is around the ability to break encryption which would be a national threat. Other friendlier case studies include globally impacting business cases, such as predicting weather patterns, intergalactic equations for space exploration, NASA’s program for satellite tracking, or global warming impact on marine life, cyber security and cryptography to protect digital information. That’s where the business cases quickly go from government to commerce.

  While Quantum technology is very promising, it is not at the financial breaking point to be competitive with the benefits of the traditional systems for a return on investment  

In my experience, it is not the need today, but the questions that are not yet asked because we have become so dependent and used to the speed that we deal with daily. Quantum computing is still going through the development of business cases when the speed of the calculations will be more valuable than the cost of the computations. Most industries are not willing to make that investment yet as the payoff is still very uncertain.

While it’s still several years out, companies like Microsoft, Intel, Google are developing application integration and end user services partnering with suppliers such as D-Wave. While these companies are pushing for the next big wave of technology transformation, most companies, and technologists like myself, have been watching and waiting. With the progress in the last two years, the runway is getting shorter and it’s time to start planning. It reminds me of the days when distributed computing started to threaten the future of the mainframe. A smaller, faster, more adaptive technology solution has always been attractive to businesses, especially as they get more cost effective. QC is just not there yet. While Quantum technology is very promising, it is not at the financial breaking point to be competitive with the benefits of the traditional systems for a return on investment. As AI continues to develop and demands more resources to provide all the possible outputs, companies supporting AI technologies will need to re-evaluate their fundamental technology infrastructure and invest in the next generation of intelligence. Quantum intelligence.

The impact that it is having is for businesses that are planning their product development over the next few years, is that the potential of the new speed for processing is now a market worth researching. There are two main approaches to preparing for these changes that should be considered by CIOs and CISOs. The first is preparing for how to best leverage the new technology for product development and penetration into new markets. The second is how to protect company privacy, confidentiality and infrastructure from intrusion by use of new methods outside of cryptography.

Networks, infrastructure, vendor product roadmaps should be assessed to determine what type of capital investments need to be made to upgrade to a platform that will be able to support QC solutions. Right now, the discussions are around cybersecurity and encryption methods that will no longer protect systems the way they due today. CIOs and CISOs should be having discussions around network protection that may have to be insulated from external threats and less integrated with unnecessary external systems. The idea of the firewall will need to be reimagined to reinforce the gateways for external connectivity. The demilitarized zone (DMZ) will not be enough. The unexpected outcome of quantum programming is that is crates new methods to solve problems and yields significant improvements. The technology will be ready faster than the ability of the humans and corporations that are not ready for that level of organizational change.

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