Quantum computing is one of the top topics of innovation conversations around the information technology world. Why wouldn’t it be? The promise it holds is, well, mind boggling. Partially because it’ a whole new paradigm. Partially because it’s mystical in its complexity. Partially because we just know deep down in our core that this is going to change our world in ways we can’t even imagine today.
Yet the hype can overshadow the promise. So many are over-promising, over-stating, spinning results to make it appear as though quantum computers are delivering solutions that knowledgeable insiders know just aren’t feasible, yet. We’re only able to run very small problems on current quantum computers, due to their small scale.
Every major innovation takes time and evolution to reach its potential. ENIAC, the infamous vacuum tube based computer, was built in 1946. In 1947 the first silicon circuit was created. Yet it wasn’t until 1958 that we had our first computer driven by an integrated chip. Yep. big steps often take time. That doesn’t mean you don’t prepare for them.
Many are questioning why we should do anything with quantum computers until they are ready for prime time production. That’s probably the wrong question. The more appropriate question is,
“Why should I prepare for quantum computing in the future.?”
Why Prepare for Quantum Computing?
Here are the top six reasons we hear from our customers when we discuss preparing for quantum computing.
1. It’s complicated.
Quantum hardware and software are as different from classical systems as the abacus was to the first computer. That means you can’t just wait to understand it. Even quantum experts still don’t fully understand it, yet. It can take years to explore and experiment before your organization defines its best quantum plan. So if you snooze, you will lose to competitors who were already exploring quantum.
2. It requires a whole new skill set and new software
Using quantum SDKs is not easy. That’s why we built Qatalyst, to eliminate that risk and complexity. But if you’re going to use SDKs and write your own quantum programs, you need to plan on a minimum of two years to learn how to create and code a program. You also need to build a staff to maintain those programs that require ongoing maintenance to the low level code as quantum computers evolve. And you’ll need different experts to write programs for different vendors’ systems. Prepare to train new subject matter experts as well, since your current operations and other experts wont be able to easily apply quantum SDKs and programming to their current approaches.
3. If we wait until it’s production ready, we’ll lose competitive advantage.
This would be my personal favorite reason. Here’s the bottom line; despite the positive and negative sensationalism, quantum computers are coming to our world. Those who commit to them early will reap the first benefits. Given the extremely long cycle to learn about and use them, again, if you snooze you will lose – to the competitor that stepped into the innovation.
4. We don’t know how to apply quantum computing, but we can get a leg up with today’s systems on that potential value.
Exactly. You cannot use the programs or problems you process today on your large systems on a quantum computer. You can’t apply the logic you use today to get the best advantage from quantum. Quantum computing takes exploration to understand where and how your organization can reap the best value. You can start now and be ahead of the curve, or wait and fall behind.
5. We need to plan our future budgets and resources for quantum computing
You’ll need to think about which current headcount you release so that you can hire the more expensive and rare quantum experts you’ll need for programming and maintaining software. You’ll also need to find ways to continue to run your current systems with a smaller staff since the quantum experts will take significantly more budget than your current programmers. By exploring quantum today, you can get a feel for what it will take tomorrow, and budget accordingly.
6. We are innovators for our customers, and quantum computing is their next big innovation.
If you’re an integrator or VAR, you’ll want to get familiar with quantum computing as soon as possible. Your customers will be asking about it, if they haven’t already. They’ll need guidance and expertise as you work together to define their best path to quantum and leveraging its value.
The Bottom Line
You learned to walk before you could run a race. You learned your ABC’s before you could write a book. You learned to add before you did algebra, calculus or wrote your first algorithm.
Quantum computing is far more advanced than those examples. But the same principle applies.
You can’t do advanced things until you learn the basics.
The basics and every other part of quantum computers are totally different than anything you’ve ever learned.
So do what you’ve always done. Start learning now, so when the really cool stuff comes along, you’re ready to roar.