Quantum computing: are UK firms ready to make the leap?

Harnessing the laws of quantum mechanics to massively increase processing power, quantum computers are no longer a theoretical exercise. In fact, this could be the next great technological opportunity – if businesses can think that far ahead

The next generation of quantum computers is coming on by leaps and bounds.

Late last year, for instance, IBM unveiled the Osprey, the most powerful such machine to date, boasting triple the number of qubits of its predecessor and vastly greater processing power.

Although the UK is a world leader in developing this tech, British businesses aren’t necessarily ready to seize the opportunities that are likely to be created, according to data from EY. What stage have firms got to in their thinking?

Its clear, then, that momentum is building around quantum computing, with more than half of companies expecting it to underpin activity in their industry by the end of the decade. What’s more, 65% of business leaders say their firm has a high degree of interest in developing quantum capabilities.

The question remains whether that will provide enough impetus to ensure that they’re fully prepared for the coming wave of quantum-related disruption.

Encouragingly, this confidence in their ability to ride out any disruption caused by quantum computing is not stopping business leaders from thinking carefully about how it might fit into their operations.

One measure of this is the number of publicly stated applications for quantum computing, which has been increasing fast in recent years. It’s a figure that’s likely to keep rising as quantum systems go mainstream.

Of course, this kind of rapid development often comes with risks and puts the onus on business leaders to ensure they aren’t caught off guard.

Thankfully, most seem to be at least partly aware of the difficulties that quantum computing may present.

A small proportion of businesses already appear to have started preparing for quantum computing, whether by designating internal leads or by incorporating it in their strategic planning. As many as 97% intend to do the latter over the next five years.

The question, then, is whether that will be enough to keep them ahead of the curve.