CIOs Learn To Deal With Quantum Computers

Quantum Computers have almost arrived, now what?
Quantum Computers have almost arrived, now what?
Image Credit: Steve Jurvetson

So just exactly what does any of us know about the field of quantum mechanics? If you’ve done some science fiction reading, then by now you probably know that quantum mechanics talks about a particle can exist in more than one state all at the same time. Additionally, there is the property that Einstein called “spooky” where quantum particles are able to communicate with each other over vast distances. This is all fine and good, but just exactly how can any of this have an impact on what we are trying to accomplish as CIOs?

The Arrival Of Quantum Computers

The concept of creating a new type of computer that used quantum mechanics to perform calculations has been floating around in labs for a number of years. However, it’s only been recently that these ideas have started to make an appearance in the commercial sector where CIOs live. The reason that businesses are getting excited about being able to put their hands on this new technology is that it holds out the promise of allowing them to be able to solve complex business problems in nanoseconds.

So when will quantum computers be ready for prime time? The experts are telling us that quantum computers will become available in a matter of years. The firms, and their CIOs, who make the effort to invest in quantum computing now will have a big competitive advantage over those firms who sit back and wait for it to show up. CIOs need to come to the understanding that quantum computing technology is no longer futuristic.

The most powerful type of computers that a firm has access to today are supercomputers. It is believed that quantum computers will become available to businesses within five years. Once that happens, they can then be used to solve new classes of problems that are not currently able to be solved by today’s supercomputers.

Next Steps With Quantum Computers

In order to understand the true power of a quantum computer, you need to first understand how it works. A traditional computer uses binary digits that can be either a one or a zero at any given point in time. Quantum computers use quantum binary digits (also known as “qubits”) which are able to represent and store information in zeros and ones simultaneously. This allows a quantum computer to sort through a very large number of possible solutions in a fraction of a second. An example of the power of a quantum computer was demonstrated when a problem that took 45 minutes to complete on a standard computer was solved in a fraction of a second using a quantum computer.

Quantum computers are first being made available to businesses via the cloud. A business can purchase time on the quantum computer and then connect to it using the internet. Experts are saying that this cloud based quantum computer access in about five years should be able to be used to solve chemistry and supply chain types of problems. Additionally, new drugs can be researched more quickly by using a quantum computer to simulate more molecular interactions within the human body.

There are challenges to using quantum computers. Qubits are unable to maintain their state for more than a fraction of a second. Qubits are very delicate and can be easily disrupted. The number of qubits that can be used by a quantum computer is currently very small and this limits the types of problems that they can be used to solve. Additionally, there is no common programming language that has been developed in which to code quantum computer programs.

What All Of This Means For You

Quantum computers used to be the kind of thing that we’d only ever hear being reference in a science fiction movie. However, times have moved on and we now find ourselves getting much closer to having quantum computers become available for use in business. CIOs are going to have to evaluate this new technology and make some decisions about how they want to use it.

The experts who study such things are telling us that quantum computers should be available to solve business problems in roughly about five years. When this happens, problems that can take even a supercomputer a great deal of time to solve will be able to be solved quickly using a quantum computer. Quantum computers us qubits to represent both zero and one at the same time. This allows them to process many different solutions very quickly and arrive at an answer faster than a traditional computer. There are challenges associated with using a quantum computer because qubits don’t last for long and there is not a common programming language.

As CIOs it is our responsibility to remain aware of new technology that is coming our way. Quantum computing is defiantly that type of technology. We need to be taking steps now to understand quantum computing so that when it becomes commonly available we will be able to put it to good use. Take steps today to prepare for the quantum computers of tomorrow!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: What types of business problems do you think that quantum computers will be best suited to solving?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Successful CIO Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Successful CIO Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Congratulations on having your company make you the CIO. However, now what? As the person with the CIO job, you are going to have to use your skills to solve a range of challenging technical problems. However, you’re not going to be able to do this by yourself. You’ll need help from everyone who is a part of your department. Your big challenge is going to be finding a way to connect with them and motivate them to help you out. Just exactly how are you going to go about doing this?

Leave a Comment