On September 12th an Accenture delegation traveled to IBM Research headquarters at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York. This visit marked the beginning of our next wave of efforts in quantum computing: Accenture is now officially a member of the IBM Q network, a global community of partners working on quantum computing applications.

Given the impact that quantum computing will have for our clients across industries and around the world, we have teams from across Accenture working on quantum research. This new partnership will further power those efforts: As part of the IBM Q network, Accenture teams can now run our investigations and experiments on the largest gate model quantum computers available to date.

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It’s not a question of if quantum computing will transform industries. It’s which ones will be transformed first.

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Led by efforts that began at Accenture Labs, Accenture teams have been brought together to scale up experiments and research focused on leveraging quantum computers to drive business value. Our experiments in quantum focus on solving some of the hardest problems our clients face, ranging from accelerating and improving the drug discovery process, to optimizing routing and supply chains, to managing distributed electric grids, to accelerating computationally intensive machine learning algorithms. We believe it’s not a question of if quantum computing will transform industries, but which industries will be transformed first, and when.

And given the rapid advances in the field, those transformations may come sooner than you expect. In May 2016, IBM first announced that they had made a quantum computer with 5 qubits available through their cloud service. They added a 16-qubit machine a year later, followed by a 20-qubit machine at the end of 2017, when they also announced that they had created a prototype machine with 50 qubits. Though there’s still a lot of work to be done, companies like IBM look to be nearing the point of quantum supremacy, where a quantum computer can provably solve a problem better than any existing classical (non-quantum) supercomputer.

Accenture’s global focus across industries, as well as our industry knowledge and scaling expertise, put us in the best position to turn these advances into wins for our clients. We’re focused on applying and adjusting quantum algorithms to a wide variety of business problems through what we call business experiments. (You can read about how we applied this approach to help Biogen better compare candidate molecules during the drug discovery process here.)

Our partnership with IBM will help us expand our investigations into quantum computing use cases with near-term value, including where and to what extent quantum chemistry, machine learning, and optimization techniques can be applied to help businesses. And we’ll continue to build out assets and techniques to leverage quantum computers in the complex enterprise environments present in today’s largest businesses.

Our partnership with IBM is the next crucial step in our quantum journey. Watch this space to learn more about our quantum research as we push forward.

Read more about our perspectives on quantum computing and follow our work at https://www.accenture.com/quantum. For more about Accenture Labs, read the latest post from Global Senior Managing Director Marc Carrel-Billiard, or check out our latest stories and views on the future of technology on YouTube.

Kirby Linvill

Technology R&D Associate Principal - Accenture Labs

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