Quantum Computers can't cure Covid-19

It's about the enterprise, stupid.

Quantum Tech for executives and investors

The topic for this week is obvious and tragic, the point I am hoping to make is profound and ignored with gusto by the Quantum Tech community - QC’s cannot cure Covid-19. Not because we don’t have the hard- or software but because we don’t have enterprise grade quantum tech stacks and fully integrated business processes. My long take this week explores this crucial question, the short take looks at relevant news from the week. The fan favorite SciFi corner is replaced by a quantum joke - because we all can use some laughter just about now.

Engineers crack 58-years old puzzle on way to quantum breakthrough by controlling the nucleus of a single atom with an electrical field

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The long take

The recent, tragic, outbreak of the Covid-19 virus led some news outlets to speculate whether a quantum computer could help find a cure for the corona infections and stop the pandemic. Publications such as TDQ or USA Today claim that, while a working quantum computer is still years away, it indeed would be able to save us from the current health crisis.

This is irresponsible bullshit. And a symptom of what's fundamentally wrong within our Quantum Tech community.

A widespread narrative, deeply entrenched even at some of the leading Quantum vendors and startups, claims that we will be able to solve many challenges when the necessary hard- and software comes online ranging from the traveling salesman problem, material science discoveries, new drugs or financial portfolios.

And this is the root cause of the problem, since it simply ignores the reality of the enterprise and how innovation is brought to market. Here is why even a hypothetical quantum computer and software would be far away from being able to solve such big challenges:

Integrate with legacy enterprise legacy IT - Quantum systems need to talk with classical systems in a hybrid approach. Quantum systems need to be integrated with enterprise ERP, CRM, DB and many other legacy systems. Data needs to be mapped. Results visualized and made actionable for teams to execute on. A momentous task for the most sophisticated of companies and a journey that takes years for any mid sized or large organization.

Integrate with operational processes - your sales, marketing, finance teams; nothing in the enterprise happens without them. No new products, no go to market, no customer care, no billing and collecting money. This is 50% of the job and nobody in Quantum is talking about it.

Make a financial case - assessing the financial case for Quantum is hard. Assessing the financial case for Quantum in the context of other enterprise projects such as digital, A.I., blockchain or others is the reality of business that is currently being ignored by most vendors and consultants.

Policy, regulatory and legal standards - we don’t even know yet what these look like, and as we have seen with past new techs such as “the ethics of A.I.” or “liability in blockchain” you simply cannot expect enterprise level rollouts without formal, legally tested standards and frameworks.

The human spirit - the human spirit took us to the moon, invented electricity, fire and the wheel, strives on love, creativity and beauty. The human spirit also panic buys a year worth of toilet paper after a CNN breaking news announcement. New technologies such as Quantum are hard to understand and will struggle to find adoption. But wait, senior executives who deal with Quantum have MBA’s from Harvard, PhDs from Stanford and are very different you say… well, they are the same people hiding in Vermont or Aspen right now, sending their staff to buy a year worth of TP. Behavior change and change management is absolutely crucial to deliver on the promise of Quantum Tech.

All of the above, and much more, is needed for Quantum hard- and software to deliver breakthrough results. All of the above, and the unknown unknowns, are journeys on which most of you have not even begun to take the first step.

For executives interested in Quantum technologies and applications this means you need to get started on your Quantum journey today. It is as much about the quantum learning curve as it is about the technology, and I encourage you to take a look at the system/human interfaces within your organization to deliver results from Quantum projects. Companies that have started on this journey already are building a competitive advantage in their vertical that will be difficult to catch up on, potentially leading to “winner take all” scenarios.

For investors interested in Quantum this means you have a great opportunity to identify those vendors, startups and use cases that deliver more than just science and have a true path to commercialization across the full spectrum. Quantum teams that understand the importance of this, and are serious about putting the necessary skills and resources toward it, make very strong candidates for a potentially interesting investment.

Times are tough for everyone, we all can make a contribution by communicating honestly, factually and transparently rather than fueling hype and bias.

For Quantum Executives

An IDC study finds that adoption of Quantum Tech is slow but those experimenting with it are very optimistic about its future, especially expecting short term payoffs with respect to improved AI capabilities, accelerated business intelligence, and increased productivity and efficiency.

IBM will be firing up one of its Q System One quantum computers in Stuttgart, Germany in early 2021, allowing local users to access quantum cloud services without running afoul of local data privacy laws. Europe should also expect to see hardware coming online from the European Quantum Flagship program.

For Quantum Investors

Even in these difficult times government spending for Quantum is maintained, the main reason being that it is considered a very high national security priority.

The UK is funding a “moonshot project” which includes Quantum Tech to the tune of $1B.

On the corporate side only 0-2% of IT budgets are allocated to Quantum Tech, a new survey finds. Those making these investment at the same time feel very confident it will deliver a competitive advantage.

The SciFi corner… or just a (two) good joke(s)

Why was Heisenberg's wife unhappy? Whenever he had the energy, he didn't have the time.

And Einstein disagreed…

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