Even though it’s been over half a century since “father of quantum information science” Dr. Charles H. Bennett first wrote his notes on quantum information theory, quantum computing has mostly been viewed as a futuristic technology. However, recent technological advances suggest that we’ve entered the Quantum Decade—the decade when enterprises begin to see business value from quantum computing. While applications with a quantum advantage have not yet been developed, there are several cases such as in machine learning, and the simulation of chemistry in materials science and drug discovery that show promise.
The global quantum computing market is expected to grow from an estimated $866 million in 2023 to $4,375 million by 2028 growing at a CAGR of 36.3% as per a Markets and Markets report. Several factors are driving this growth. First, quantum computing speed, scale, and quality continue to improve. Alongside these improvements in scale, quantum scientists just published research in the journal Nature demonstrating that a quantum computer is capable of simulating a physical system more accurately than the best-known classical methods — providing evidence that today’s quantum computers have reached a point of utility.
Industries have already started to explore quantum technology to search for advantages, especially in tackling problems such as simulating nature, processing data with complex structures, search, and optimisation. For example, BosonQ Psi, an Indian start-up, through its simulation platform is exploring quantum applications in aerospace, manufacturing and many other industries.
The Indian government has recently approved the National Quantum Mission at a cost of ₹6,000 crore from 2023-24 to 2030-31 to scale up scientific and industrial R&D, for accelerating quantum technology-led economic growth. Several Indian organisations have begun investing extensively to explore quantum advantage for specific applications, there is still time for more organisations to be early adopters.
So, as the technology quickly progresses, it’s a good idea for Indian organisations to explore how quantum could impact their industry and business, and what skills they may need to effectively adopt the technology.
The first step is to identify required quantum computing skills and acquire them.
Evaluate your organisation's quantum computing needs and acquire the required skills, whether through hiring, training, or engaging a consultant.
Next, it is important to evaluate suitable business problems or opportunities. Identify industry challenges that are most likely to benefit from the unique capabilities of quantum computing. For instance, financial companies could use quantum computing for portfolio optimisation or fraud detection, pharma companies could use it for molecular simulation for drug development.
Each of the potential applications must be evaluated through a prioritisation matrix. This means analysing each application through the lens of required quantum speed-up and near-term technical feasibility. Also consider the expected business impact. For instance, think about the potential impact such as competitive advantage and expected financial benefits that each application could deliver.
Once your organisation has a clear picture of how it could benefit from quantum, start training employees, hiring quantum experts, and start using real quantum technology.
There are several examples of India’s exploration into quantum. For instance, IIT Madras’ Centre for Quantum Information, Communication and Computing (CQuICC) focuses on advancing core algorithms in research areas like Quantum Machine Learning, Quantum Optimisation, and applications research in finance. The Department of Science and Technology (DST) and IISER Pune have set up a Technology Innovation Hub on Quantum Technologies aimed at developing quantum computers, quantum communication devices and systems, novel quantum materials and sensors for day-to-day applications.
As quantum computing adoption becomes increasingly mainstream, it's time to ask the right questions about how business leaders see their organisation positioned to be among the first to develop and use applications with a quantum advantage.
Now is the time to prepare.
Venkat Subramaniam, Lead, Quantum, IBM Research India