A Quantum Leap
In late-2019, news that Google had cracked the quantum supremacy puzzle took the high-powered computing world by storm. In a Nature article, Google claimed that their 54-qubit processor, named Sycamore, had performed calculations that were deemed almost impossible by classical computers, or, in this case, would take them about 10,000 years.
Leveraging three “weird” effects in the quantum realm, viz, interference, superposition & entanglement, modern quantum computing has come a long way from being just a distant possibility in Feynman’s period.
Today, the market for Quantum Computing is growing at a CAGR of nearly 25% YoY and is estimated to be a USD 2.5Bn Market by the end of 2022.
To the average industry spectator, quantum computing sounds exciting and equally confusing. Where your classical computers, i.e., the computer on which this article is being typed, uses 0s and 1s to orchestrate the switching of transistors to run logic, a quantum computer uses something more nuanced and stranger, the qubit.
In addition to existing in the classical 0 and 1 state, this quantum bit can also exist in a superposition of 0 and 1 states. This additional entangled state means that an n-qubit quantum number can store 2^n bits of information instead of the classical limit of n-bits.
This is precisely what Google & other key players are utilizing to build the future of high-powered computing and build fully programmable quantum computers that can run general-purpose quantum algorithms. Since the announcement, Google’s team has already been working on near-term applications in quantum physics simulation, quantum chemistry, generative machine learning, and other areas.
Key Players in Quantum Computing Today
However, it’s not just Google that’s in the foray. D-Wave, IBM, Microsoft, Toshiba, Alibaba, Lockheed Martin & Rigetti are a few other players that are betting big on quantum computers.
Of these, Rigetti Computing & D-Wave systems are among a new breed of startups that have propped up entirely around the quantum computing ecosystem.
Canadian firm D-Wave revealed their latest fifth-gen quantum computers running on their brand-new Pegasus topology. The new topology design provides higher connectivity and allows for more complex problems to be solved using the same number of qubits. With higher connectivity, fewer qubits are needed to solve problems.
Across the Atlantic, Rigetti UK has partnered with Oxford Instruments, University of Edinburgh, quantum software startup Phasecraft, and Standard Chartered Bank to accelerate the commercialization of quantum computing in the UK. The three-year program operating at the cost of £10 million will build and operate the first quantum computer in the UK, make it available to partners and customers over the cloud, and pursue practical applications in machine learning, materials simulation, and finance.
Emerging Use Cases Transforming Industries
Tech giants such as IBM, Microsoft, & Amazon are collaborating by investing in various startups to solve their computational & optimization problems, leading to a further acceleration of the quantum computing market.
As soon as early 2020s, the finance, travel, logistics, global energy and other advanced industries will start reaping the benefits of a hybrid classical/quantum computing approach. Companies like ExxonMobil, BASF, Dow & Barclays have already begun to actively explore the fit for quantum computing in their value chain.
From cybersecurity to weather forecasting, drug discovery, electronic materials discovery, AI, and others, use cases for quantum computers are increasing by the day.
In ML/AI, quantum algorithms are being used to help artificial neural network optimizations to speed up ML-based complex problem-solving. And given the fact that most modern cryptography techniques break down in front of a quantum computer, Quantum Cryptography, too, is finding widespread laboratory time. The technology uses individual photons for the development of a cryptosystem to provide unbreakable security is a topic of much discussion.
The upcoming increase in connected devices & sensors after the 5G network roll-out will also force companies to leverage quantum-safe solutions to protect personal data from breaches and theft.
The Global Quantum Sales Ecosystem
Fewer Trials & Errors In Healthcare
It’s still early days, but where quantum computing shows the most promise is in simulating molecules and molecular processes. A recent player focused on dealing with the computational complexity of molecular simulation, specifically protein behavior, is Toronto-based biotech startup ProteinQure.
The aim is to accelerate the path to drug discovery by engineering proteins targeted for medical purposes.
Massachusetts-based Biogen is another company exploring quantum computing for drug development. Focused on neurological disease research, the biotech firm announced a 2017 partnership with quantum startup 1QBit and Accenture.
Optimizing Automotive Pathways
Quantum computing’s USP is not just the speed at which it solves problems, rather, it’s the wide variety of previously unsolvable problems that it can solve.
Optimization problems like “the traveling salesman” are now within reach of a solution, more or less, thanks to quantum algorithms.
D-Wave and Volkswagen have already run pilot programs on a number of traffic- and travel-related optimization challenges. This includes streamlining traffic flows in major metropolitan areas like Beijing & Lisbon. In Lisbon, Volkswagen is partnering with public transport providers to equip buses with a developed in-house traffic management system. This system uses a D-Wave quantum computer and calculates the fastest route for each of the buses individually and almost in real-time.
A Quantum Model For Financial Risk
Quantum and financial modeling are a match made in heaven due to their structural similarities.
Specifically, firms like JP Morgan Chase are interested in optimizing the Monte Carlo model, which gauges the probability of various outcomes & their corresponding risks.
In a research paper published in 2019, JPMorgan’s Quantitative Research team collaborated with IBM and proposed a methodology to price contracts using quantum computers.
Simulating Nature To Manufacture Molecules
Each day, we see numerous chemical structures and materials being produced by nature that the industrial manufacturing process cannot duplicate. For example, pound for pound, a strand of spider silk is stronger than steel and does not require the use of a furnace to be created.
Quantum computing is expected to help us overcome these limits and develop breakthrough products and services that will disrupt and redefine manufacturing.
Manufacturing use cases can be clustered as per the value chain:
- Discovery: Chemistry, Materials Science, & Condensed Matter Physics
- Design: Finite Difference Analysis, Structural Analysis, Hydro/aerodynamics
- Control: Optimization, Machine Learning, Classification
- Supply: Supply Chain Optimization, Risk Modeling
For example, the production flows & robotics scheduling for complex products, such as automobiles are highly complex, and their simulations test the limits of classical computers. It is expected that quantum computing might enable faster optimization runs and allow it to be performed more dynamically.
Accelerating Public Deployment Of Quantum Computing
One area where service providers can look to gain immense value is by joining the concerted global efforts to commercialize quantum computing.
This is key value area, especially for cloud service providers since it is the preferred mode of access chosen by quantum service providers. Take, for example, IBM Quantum Experience where IBM offers cloud access to the most advanced quantum computers available.
Major cloud players like Amazon and Microsoft recognize this need for cloud services and are busy optimizing their offerings to attract clients. AWS unveiled a new service called Amazon Braket to facilitate Quantum Computing in the cloud in collaboration with IonQ, Rigetti Computing, and DWave. Microsoft invested $215M in photonic quantum computer startup PsiQuantum, and is also preparing its Azure cloud computing service to offer access to three prototype quantum computers, from Honeywell, IonQ, and QCI.
The Rise Of Quantum Service Providers
With quantum hardware and use cases reaching maturity, the field is open for service providers to actively explore opportunities for strategic partnerships.
AT&T forms alliance for next-gen networks
AT&T has joined hands with California Institute of Technology to form the Alliance for Quantum Technologies. The Alliance aims to bring industry, government, and academia together to speed quantum technology development and emerging practical applications.
This collaboration will also bring a research and development program named INQNET (INtelligent Quantum NEtworks and Technologies). The program will focus on the need for capacity and security in communications through future quantum networking technologies.
Quantum networking will enable a new era of super-fast, secure networks. AT&T, through the AT&T Foundry, will help test relevant technologies for commercial applications.
Amazon builds fully-managed quantum service
Amazon Braket is a fully managed service that helps you get started with quantum computing by providing a development environment to explore and design quantum algorithms, test them on simulated quantum computers, and run them on your choice of different quantum hardware technologies.
Algorithms can then be run on quantum computers of your choice; whether superconductor computers from Rigetti, quantum annealing superconductor computers from D-Wave or ion–trap computers from IonQ.
IBM already has the first-move advantage in this space. They even have their own hardware to run the simulations on. But if recent market rumors turn out to be true, Amazon is not quite far behind with their own quantum computer.
Quantum Is Changing What It Means To Be Cutting Edge
Since Quantum Computing is still in its infancy, the role of service providers is yet to be defined clearly. However, that hasn’t stopped top IT, cloud & data management service providers from commission extensive studies to find out how they can identify early opportunities and win high-value, long-term deals.
Forward-thinking organizations keen to bank on the above applications & potential use cases should begin to actively scan for signals and opportunities across sectors.
Draup for Sales tracks latest strategic and tactical movements across the quantum computing landscape and the cross-section of verticals affected by it. By monitoring key business intentions and digital themes across 30+ industries and how they’re reacting to developments in quantum computing, our proprietary sales intelligence platform enables you to seize potential use cases and evaluate strategic partnerships with a 360-view.