The latest advances in quantum computing have peaked the business community’s interest in understanding where the mere promise of this technology’s application ends and where real results begin. IBM is one of the tech firms leading research in the field, and last week they met with the chief technology officers of various Spanish companies, including BBVA, in order to discuss what steps businesses should take if they want to take advantage of the potential of this still-developing technology.
Elena Yndurain, one of IBM Q’s business consulting team, explained that from a scientific standpoint there are already solid foundations that demonstrate the advantages of this technology, as compared to classical computing, for specific use cases in various industries. Nevertheless, for now the challenge lies partly in nailing down the functionality offered by the technology; among other things, for example, ensuring that qubits — the smallest unit on which this new computing paradigm is based — conserve their unique physical properties for the longest time possible so that computers can be used to tackle increasingly complex problems.
The other aspect of the challenge involves ensuring that the commercial benefits are truly accessible to the business world as soon as possible. Yndurain indicated that the benefits of quantum computing will begin to become commercially tangible between 2023 and 2025. She went on to define four necessary steps companies should take in preparation for the “arrival of the quantum age.” First, build up knowledge about the technology. Second, plan the organization’s internal adoption strategy, which implies anticipating the “repercussions that it will have on different processes” and the business value chain, in addition to how it might be involved in areas like regulation and talent acquisition. Third, businesses should “have access to the technology” via the different cloud-based platforms in the market. Finally, they should begin to test different use cases that could be applied in each sector.
Steps BBVA has taken
BBVA set out on its quantum journey in mid 2018, when it kicked off research activity following the same internal approach it uses to investigate other technologies and advanced sciences, explained Carlos Kuchkovsky, Chief R&D and Technology Officer in BBVA’s New Digital Businesses (NDB).
“We are already exploring how this technology can contribute to the bank’s strategic priorities”
According to Kuchkovsky, the first phase was “discovery” during which the bank’s experts spent three months analyzing the potential impact quantum technology could have on the sector in the next five years. “Out of this we saw that, yes, quantum computing could have an impact on banking prior to the five year time horizon, so we moved to the next phase of the process, exploration,” the NDB technology head explained. During this second phase, an exhaustive analysis of the technology’s state of play was conducted; the most important participants on the international stage were identified (including both public and private organizations and institutions), and potential banking applications were studied.
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