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How Quantum computing will change … everything?

Research labs, government agencies (NASA) and tech giants like Microsoft, IBM and Google are all focused on developing quantum theories first put forward in the 1970s. What’s more, a growing start-up quantum computing ecosystem is attracting hundreds of millions of investor dollars. Given this scenario, Forrester believes it is time for IT leaders to pay attention.

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How long from proof point to reality?

The report advises CIOs to track the advancements between proof points and specialisation as the quantum computing ecosystem grows in funding and support. Accelerating quantum software development and cloud services could see the gap between proof point and specialised solution narrow to just 24 months. 

As with all new fields in technology, vendors will be battling to be first to cross new finish lines. Some are focusing on the notion of ‘quantum supremacy’ – where an actual quantum computer can solve a theoretical problem better than a classical computer. Others are focusing in quantum advantage – where an actual quantum computer can solve a real-world problem more effectively than a classical computer, or solve a problem that today’s best classical computers cannot. Many others, including startups, are focusing on a hybrid quantum-classical solution as a practical means to deliver shorter-term value. This includes the ability to allow programmers to plug quantum computers into their software using existing languages such as Python, C++ and even Java. 

Given the technical complexity of the hardware required by quantum computing (one solution involves supercooling computers to near absolute zero), Forrester believes the cloud is an ideal way for vendors to let clients time-share hardware and call new quantum algorithms through APIs. 

With many complex engineering challenges still to be solved, Forrester acknowledges that progress may still be slow for some time. However, since quantum computers grow exponentially in potential power as hardware scales, rather than linearly as digital computers do, the Forrester report describes quantum computing as “…a bullet train that is accelerating.”

“In the race to digital, even a 1% advantage — for example, in energy production costs or customer acquisition costs — can help a company overwhelm the competition. Using specialised quantum processors available through the cloud, a few first movers will seize advantages to achieve these smaller but significant gains over the next five years,” explains Hopkins. 

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