What Should Businesses Know to Get Started in Quantum? Video

Experts from IBM, Quantinuum and D-Wave share what companies new to quantum should know during Enter Quantum’s round table discussion
Berenice Baker
Berenice Baker

September 15, 2023

A still from the video round table via Zoom
Quantum experts from IBM, Quantinuum and D-Wave joined Enter Quantum's round table. Informa

What Should Businesses Know to Get Started in Quantum? Video

Experts from IBM, Quantinuum and D-Wave share what companies new to quantum should know during Enter Quantum’s round table discussion

Quantum computing is at an early stage of commercialization, but it is already solving real-world business problems that are intractable by traditional, classical computers. Organizations that aren’t already looking into how quantum might support their business goals risk losing commercial advantage to competitors.

But what should businesses know about the current state of the art in quantum computing and what can they expect when they approach a quantum company to find out how quantum can help them stay ahead?

This was the opening question Enter Quantum posed to a panel of experts from three of the world’s largest quantum computing companies:

  • Mark Jackson, Quantinuum senior quantum evangelist

    • Richard Hopkins, IBM distinguished engineer

      • Murray Thom, D-Wave Systems vice president of quantum business innovation

        According to Jackson, quantum is becoming much more mainstream. While the notion has existed for 40 years or more, he was greeted with skepticism when he started

        in the field.

        “There’s been enormous progress over the past several years and we're very close to having practical commercial applications. I think that's the one thing that people don't understand,” he said.

        “There seems to be a big misunderstanding that quantum is some sort of a buzzword – it's sort of science-fictiony, it may happen in 20 years or something. I think they don't realize it's happening now. And we're very close to having practical commercial applications.

        “The other thing I would like people to take away from this is that quantum will be transformational for certain applications, but it's very specific. There are certain things quantum is fantastic at – like chemistry, machine learning and cybersecurity – and others that it's not. Those are some of the things that we're hearing a lot of interest from people.”

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        Hopkins also added historical context, saying that IBM first put quantum computers onto the cloud in 2016 and now there are hundreds of customers working with IBM on real use cases.

        “In terms of maturation, we're getting to that inflection point where suddenly it becomes a commercial reality to be able to use some of this technology to do some of the things we've just never been able to do before. It's not a long way away now,” he said.

        “It’s a really exciting place to be, with the new capabilities around things like optimization and machine learning that could help transport businesses.”

        Thom reassured people new to quantum by saying that even experts in quantum mechanics feel like they have a limited understanding of quantum mechanics and researchers are still trying to figure out what the nature of the quantum mechanical theory of behavior is.

        “[American theoretical physicist] Richard Feynman popularized the idea of quantum computing in the early 1980s, and he said if you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics. So when I'm talking with folks, I find that people say I know that I don't know a whole lot about quantum computing. So I'd be happy to start the conversation there,” he said.

        “Usually when I'm speaking with developers, their reaction is if I knew more about what I could use quantum computers for, I would be more interested to learn about quantum computing itself. So practical applications are what everyone is really excited to hear about.

        “At D-Wave we're working with folks on practical applications in production right now. I think it's important that the space is moving and expanding very quickly, so it helps people to understand that quantum computing is the idea of building a device that can use quantum effects to accelerate calculations for them.

        “But once you have that idea, turns out there are many different ways that you can do that, and those ways are maturing at different rates and are applicable to different applications and the way they’re programmed is different. For those entering the field it's worthwhile knowing that, in fact, it's not just one homogeneous device that every single person is building that's exactly the same, but in fact, different types of devices are available that are going to be targeting different applications.”

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