Companies brace for disruption of quantum computing in 2030 • The Register

While business leaders expect quantum computing to play an important role in the industry by 2030, some experts don’t believe the technology will be ready for production deployment in the near future.

The findings, from a study titled “2022 Quantum Readiness” commissioned by consultancy EY, refer to UK companies, although the conclusions are likely to apply to global organizations as well.

According to EY, 81 percent of senior executives in the UK expect quantum computing to have a significant impact in their industry within seven and a half years, and nearly half (48 percent) believe quantum technology will transform industries as early as 2025.

Overhype can be a problem

As for the naysayers who say that quantum technology won’t be ready for live implementation anytime soon, the industry also suffers from a hype problem, exaggerating the possibilities and even flying some accusations of alleged counterfeiting, as with the example of quantum startup IonQ that used to be recently accused by Scorpion Capital from misleading investors about the effectiveness of its quantum hardware.

Joseph Reger, Fujitsu Fellow, CTO of Central and Eastern Europe and member of the Quantum Computing Council of the World Economic Forum, told The register he gets some “heat” because he says that quantum is far from being a thing.

“There are impressive benefits that pre-quantum or quantum-inspired technologies offer. They are less sexy, but very powerful.”

He added: “Some companies are exaggerating the timescales. If quantum computing gets overhyped, we’ll probably be entering the first quantum winter.”

Fujitsu is developing its own quantum systems and announced earlier this year that the working to integrate quantum computing with traditional HPC technology† The company also unveiled a high quality quantum simulator based on its PRIMEHPC FX 700 systems that it says will serve as an important bridge to the development of quantum computing applications in the future.

Strategic planning

Meanwhile, EY claims respondents were “nearly unanimous” in their belief that quantum computing will cause moderate or high levels of disruption to their own organization, industry sector and the wider economy over the next five years.

Despite this, the research shows that strategic planning for quantum computing is still in the embryonic stage for most organizations, with only 33 percent involved in strategic planning for how quantum will affect them and only a quarter have appointed specialist leaders or set up pilot teams.

The survey, conducted in February-March 2022, included 501 executives in the UK, all with senior positions in their organisation, who were required to demonstrate at least a moderate (but preferably a high) level of understanding of quantum computing. EY said they originally approached 1,516 executives, but only 501 met this requirement, which in itself tells a story.

Piers Clinton-Tarestad, a leader in Quantum Computing, said the research shows that there is a discrepancy between the pace at which some industry leaders expect quantum to affect business and their preparedness for those effects.

“Maximizing the potential of quantum technologies requires early planning to build responsive and adaptable organizational capabilities,” he said, adding that this is challenging as quantum progress has accelerated, but it “doesn’t follow a steady trajectory.”

For example, companies with quantum processors have dramatically increased the power of their hardware in recent years, from just a handful of qubits to over a hundred in IBM’s case, which expects to deliver a system of 4,158 qubit by 2025† But despite these advances, quantum computing remains a curiosity, with most operational systems deployed in research labs or made available through a cloud service for developers to experiment with.

Clinton-Tarestad said that “quantum readiness” is “not so much a chasm to be assessed, but a path to be traveled,” with the next steps in the process regularly revisited as the landscape evolves. He warned companies that expect a disruption in their industry within the next three or five years to act now.

According to EY’s report, executives in the consumer and retail markets are the most likely to believe that quantum will play an important role by 2025, with just over half of technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) executives expects an impact in the same time frame. Most respondents among health and life sciences companies believe that this will happen more often later, between 2026 and 2035.

Most organizations surveyed expect to begin their quantum preparations within the next two years, with 72 percent aiming to start in 2024.

However, only a quarter of organizations have come as far as recruiting people with the necessary skills to lead quantum computing efforts, though 68 percent said they aim to set up pilot teams by 2024 to realize the potential of quantum computing. to explore for their business.

The fear of falling behind as rival companies work to develop their own quantum capabilities is driving some respondents to embark on quantum projects, while the applications of quantum computing expected by industry leaders would advance operations with AI and machine learning, especially in financial services, automotive and manufacturing companies. TMT respondents cited potential applications in cryptography and encryption as the most likely use of quantum computing.

Why start now?

While the EY report warns of companies losing the benefits of quantum computing to rivals, there are also dangers organizations need to prepare for now, which Intel warned of during its Intel Vision conference last month.

One is that quantum computers could be used to break current cryptographic algorithms, meaning the confidentiality of both personal and corporate data could be compromised. This isn’t a distant threat, but something organizations should be aware of right now, according to Sridhar Iyengar, VP of Intel Labs and Director of Security and Privacy Research.

“Opponents can now collect encrypted data so that they can decrypt it later when quantum computers are available. This could be sensitive data, such as your Social Security number or health records, that must be protected over a long period of time,” Iyengar told us.

Organizations may want to address these types of threats by taking steps such as evaluating post-quantum cryptographic algorithms and increasing key sizes for current crypto algorithms such as AES.

Or they just decide to take a wait and see approach. EY will no doubt be on hand to sell consulting services to clarify their thinking.

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