RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Recent developments have revealed the potential for quantum computing to deliver business value by solving difficult problems in entirely new ways.
  • Quantum computing is well-suited to solve optimization problems—sorting through vast potential solutions to arrive at the best decision.
  • Enterprises that experiment and innovate now will be prepared to capitalize on the opportunities that the quantum revolution is bound to bring.


Beyond the theoretical

Quantum computing substantially enhances how information is stored and processed, allowing it to perform more efficient algorithms than traditional computing.

While quantum computing has been an important part of research for more than three decades, building an actual quantum computer has always challenged scientists and engineers.

That’s changed. In the last few years, we’ve seen hardware and software capabilities move out of university labs and into real-world business products. Still, the technology needs to mature to become fully enterprise-ready and deliver meaningful, cost-effective results.

Accenture Labs examines the science behind quantum computing, potential use cases by industry and recommended steps for business leaders who want to be best positioned when this emerging technology reaches maturity.

Delivering business value

Recent developments have revealed the potential for quantum computing to deliver business value by solving difficult subsets of problems in entirely new ways. Although the marketplace is growing, consistent enterprise use of quantum computing is by most estimates two to five years away. However, businesses can start innovating now by accessing existing commercial quantum computing capabilities through newly available quantum hardware platforms and software applications.

Investing in quantum computing services

Research partnerships between large companies and top universities show great promise for the future of quantum computing. Additionally, public investment in quantum computing is picking up steam.

$1.1B

The European Commission has invested $1.13 billion in a project to support a range of quantum technologies.

$25M

Australia’s government announced a five-year AUD$25 million investment toward developing a silicon quantum integrated circuit.

$1.2B

A US report recommends “significant and sustained investment in quantum information science by engaging with academia, industry and government.”

$15B

China is investing heavily in quantum computing to, among other things, build a facility dedicated to quantum research.

The fifth generation

Many people believe that quantum computing is one of several technologies that will enable the fifth generation of computers.

The innovation behind quantum computing lies in the way it takes advantage of certain phenomena that occur at the subatomic level.

  • In classical computing, a computer runs on bits that have a value of either 0 or 1. Quantum bits, or “qubits,” are similar, but they can also hold much more complex information, or even be negative values.
  • In a classical computer, bits are processed sequentially, similar to how a person would solve a math problem by hand. In quantum computation, qubits are entangled together, so changing the state of one qubit influences the state of others regardless of their physical distance. This allows quantum computers to intrinsically converge on the right answer to a problem very quickly.
  • In classical computing, only specifically defined results are available, inherently limited by algorithm design. Quantum answers are probabilistic, allowing the technology to consider multiple possibilities. Programs run problems multiple times, giving a sample of potential answers and increasing confidence in providing the best solution.

First generation computing

  • 1940-1956
  • Vacuum Tubes

Second generation computing

  • 1956-1964
  • Transistors

Third generation computing

  • 1964-1971
  • Integrated Circuits

Fourth generation computing

  • 1971- Present
  • Microprocessors

Fifth generation computing

  • Present & Beyond
  • Quantum Computers

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A stake in the ground

The quantum revolution is coming. It is essential for business and technology leaders to make sure that their organizations are ready for this developing facet of innovation. Enterprises can start by learning more about the fast-evolving market, identifying where quantum will impact the business and preparing with quantum-ready applications. Accessing a growing set of APIs will enable businesses to deploy quantum-based optimization, sampling and machine learning pilots—and learn more quickly.

Enterprises that move ahead with experimentation and innovation at this stage will be prepared to capitalize on the opportunities that the quantum revolution is bound to bring.

Optimization

Today quantum computing is ideal for solving optimization problems—sorting through vast potential solutions to arrive at the best decision.

Chemistry

Quantum computers can facilitate real-world quantum system simulation, unlocking efficiency in material design and drug analysis.

Machine Learning

Quantum computers can provide reliable data for machine learning algorithms. Each iteration of new data can help artificial intelligence “learn.”

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Industry opportunities for quantum computing

Financial Services

Quantum computing can help determine attractive portfolios and flag key fraud indicators using thousands of assets with interconnecting dependencies.

Life Sciences

Replacing certain protein folding and therapy discovery techniques, quantum computing can help improve drug design.

Manufacturing

As quantum computing evolves, it will help solve supply chain optimization and purchasing challenges.

Resources

Quantum computing can help identify optimal product lifecycle and replacement issues at a system-wide scale.

Media & Technology

Quantum computers are well suited to schedule advertising and maximize ad revenue, tailored on a per-customer basis.

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