By Sumit Kumar Sharma, Enterprise Architect at In2IT Technologies
10 December 2019
Quantum computing exists in a realm where the normal laws of physics do not apply, using qubits instead of binary to deliver unprecedented processing power, and as such potentially limitless applications. Large global entities like Google, IBM and Microsoft are leading the charge when it comes to the development of this technology, but other businesses are now beginning to explore its potential. The question is, how can you implement quantum computing in your organisation? And perhaps more importantly, is this even something you should be looking at? It all comes down to your business case, your appetite for investment into new technology, and ultimately your mindset and how adaptable it is to change.
How does quantum computing work?
The traditional computing building blocks are transistors – semiconductor devices used to amplify or switch electronic signals and electrical power. As a result, your earliest computer to your latest mobile device, all have transistors. However, the main difference between generations of transistors are their size and the smaller the size of the transistor, the more of them you can accommodate in your computer. Consequently, your new laptop will be slimmer and lighter yet more powerful than previous one.
So, compare these transistors with the doors that we use every day. If door is open, you can pass through and if it is closed you cannot. Opening the door and walking through or closing it ultimately results in numbers, either one or zero, or as some like to call it – binary. But as we started reducing the size of the door in order fit in more doors thereby allowing many more people to pass – no one realised there was a limit to the size the door could be before it became insignificant. As a result, people could simply jump over the door without having to go through it.
Traditional computing devices of today are fast approaching the size limit where transistors will be ineffective. Beyond a certain point, electrons can simply jump over the transistor – and this is where we enter the realm of quantum physics. Essentially, the whole way computers function is changing, and quantum computing enables practically limitless processing power, opening up a new world of possibilities.
So how do I make quantum part of my business?
As with any new technology implementation, it is essential to begin with a strong business case. This starts by answering the question ‘what problem am I trying to solve’. If there is a good business case or quantum computing that will facilitate a game-changing competitive advantage, then it may be worthwhile exploring.
The use of quantum computing is currently being explored in secure digital encryption and healthcare among other areas. In the gaming industry it is being used to make games more random and true to the real world, rather than a set of specific gameplays and algorithms that have predictable and repetitive outcomes. In the financial services market some players are beginning to test financial models using advanced artificial intelligence to predict market sentiment in real-time. The full range of applications for quantum computing are still expanding and in exploratory stage.
The next question, if you have a solid business case or an area of competitive advantage to explore, is how exactly to go about it. Few businesses have the financial wherewithal to build their own quantum engines, but this may not be necessary. It seems likely that large organisations investing in quantum computing will offer services out of the cloud. Currently a few companies like IBM and Google are already offering such cloud based services.
The final piece of the puzzle is choosing a platform on which to develop quantum algorithms. Microsoft has a well-established platform, namely Visual Studio, and a native quantum language known as Q# (pronounced Q sharp), which is a domain-specific programming language utilised for expressing quantum algorithms. Using Q# it is possible to develop complex quantum models and simulate them in a traditional computing environment. It is a comprehensive language with many resources to help developers get started, and enables organisations to test quantum models in line with their outlined business case with minimal risk and investment. Since the concept of quantum computing is new to everyone, it is also a significant opportunity for local developers to place themselves at the forefront of exciting technological advancement.
Change your mindset, change the world
Perhaps the biggest hurdle in the adoption of quantum computing is moving away from the mindset of traditional computing. We have accepted that this is the way computers work, and quantum computing turns that entire philosophy on its head. In order to leverage the full potential of quantum computing, we need to learn to think a different way. Instead of business driving technology, technology could now begin to influence business operating models. This makes it imperative for business leaders and decision-makers to finally close that gap between business and technology.
Predicting where quantum computing will be in five or ten years is impossible, but it seems safe to assume that it will become available on a mass scale. Quantum computing will change the world, we just do not know how – yet. What exactly would you do if you had limitless processing power? With quantum computing, you will, so now is the time to figure it out.