Collaboration is key to the advancement of quantum computing technology

Key Insights

Commercialization is both a challenge and a solution in the quantum space. Commercializing systems will help alleviate some of the anticipated investment shortages as investors want faster ROI than the quantum landscape road map can promise.

Training can help end customers better understand the practical uses for quantum computing, as well as the capabilities of current systems and the approximate timeline of when systems will be powerful enough to meet unique business needs.

TBR’s Quantum Computing Market Landscape, which is global in scope, deep dives into the quantum computing-related initiatives of key players in the space. It lays out the vendor landscape, details current leaders and laggards, and discusses the differing strategies of vendors in the market. The report discusses alliances as well as the tie-ins between quantum computing vendors and their nonquantum computing counterparts. Predictions around use cases and workloads that will benefit initially from quantum computing are explored as well as current customer sentiment around the technology.

Collaboration enables software vendors to purpose-design solutions optimized for each quantum architecture

The rise of quantum components vendors

TBR research shows that quantum components vendors are gaining steam, even though a commercial-grade quantum system has not yet been made available. This is atypical and highlights the fact that the quantum computing market landscape is one in which discoveries are made in tandem across hardware, software and services — unlike the classical computing market. The variety of smaller firms working on quantum computing components indicates that once a commercially viable system is developed, scaling will be faster than if system vendors had to develop all unique components in-house.

Collaboration still has roadblocks

While the quantum community is working to remove communication barriers to increase the speed at which scientific discoveries can take place, there are roadblocks to fully open communication, such as governments incentivizing working locally and imposing barriers to exports such as tariffs. While you cannot place a tariff on thoughts, these types of actions could also hamper collaboration and information sharing.

The race for qubit volume continues

Qubit volume remains the key measuring stick of progress in the quantum computing community, and as a result, increasing qubit volume is a common goal across quantum system vendors’ road maps. However, physical qubit volume alone does not predict success. Achieving an increased volume of logical qubits will be the ultimate way that quantum system performance will improve.

TBR’s Quantum Computing Market Landscape, which is global in scope, deep dives into the quantum computing-related initiatives of key players in the space. It lays out the vendor landscape, details current leaders and laggards, and discusses the differing strategies of vendors in the market. The report discusses alliances as well as the tie-ins between quantum computing vendors and their nonquantum computing counterparts. Predictions around use cases and workloads that will benefit initially from quantum computing are explored as well as current customer sentiment around the technology.

Quick Quantum Quips: Investments in componentry accelerates

Welcome to TBR’s monthly newsletter on the quantum computing market: Quick Quantum Quips (Q3). This market changes rapidly, and the hype can often distract from the realities of the actual technological developments. This newsletter keeps the community up to date on recent announcements while stripping away the hype around developments.

For more details, reach out to Stephanie Long or Geoff Woollacott to set up a time to chat.

December 2020 Developments

Quantum componentry is of rising importance in the quantum computing ecosystem as vendors seek to not only achieve economic advantage but also to create a quantum system that can be scaled for commercial use. Recent investments in the quantum space suggest a preference for homegrown quantum solutions in the European Union (EU), prompting vendors not based in the EU to increase their local presence to capitalize on this regional trend. Startups continue to emerge to capitalize on a piece of what promises to be a lucrative market while vertical-specific nonquantum vendors innovate around quantum to improve their own offerings for end customers.

  1. Intel launched Horse Ridge II, the second generation of its quantum computer controller. Horse Ridge II improves on its predecessor’s scalability and flexibility. Scalability is currently a key challenge most vendors in the quantum computing market face as they struggle with scaling qubit volume to achieve economic advantage as well as scaling the volume of systems. These systems are very nascent, the componentry is complex and it takes a team of scientists and engineers to create a single system. This is not a scalable model, but vendors such as Intel continue to work to simplify components and, in some cases, even outsource component manufacturing to make it possible.
  2. Phasecraft was founded in 2018 and is an emerging quantum computing player in the market. The vendor recently received £3.7 million in seed funding led by venture capital firm LocalGlobe, bringing its total funding since its inception to £5.5 million. Phasecraft has existing partnerships with Google and Rigetti and aims to leverage its expertise to bridge the gap between hardware and applications. Phasecraft currently employs 10 people.
  3. ColdQuanta was one of six finalists out of 80 participants in NASA Entrepreneur’s Challenge, winning $100,000. The purpose of the competition was to promote the development of and experimentation with new technologies and devices to advance NASA’s science exploration goals. ColdQuanta’s proposal was to leverage its cold atom technology to create a compact quantum gravity sensing device that could be deployed on a satellite or shuttle to monitor and map the Earth’s resources and assist in the assessment of natural disaster damage. While the challenge was not specific to quantum computing, the development of quantum devices further increases visibility of quantum technology’s capabilities beyond just computation.
  4. Microsoft is increasing its EU presence through initiatives in Denmark, which TBR believes will prove advantageous as the EU has shown a desire to fund locally sourced quantum technologies. While Microsoft’s investments in the region go far beyond quantum computing and the company’s most recent announcement is tied specifically to Denmark’s sustainability initiatives, we believe there will be benefits to Microsoft’s quantum computing arm. Microsoft currently has over 1,000 employees in Denmark and has invested in a quantum computing research lab in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen and the Technical University of Denmark.
  5. AT&T, in conjunction with Purdue University, has developed a testbed for 5G research that leverages 5G millimeter technology and quantum cryptography to improve network security. Vertical-specific innovation such as that coming out of AT&T around quantum-safe networking security is increasing as industries seek to uncover ways to coexist with emerging disruptive technology such as quantum computing. While the primary goal of AT&T’s quantum research investments is to use the resulting technology internally, TBR believes it is likely that in the long term, the vendor may also turn its discoveries into a marketable solution.

If you would like more detailed information around the quantum computing market, please inquire about TBR’s Quantum Computing Market Landscape, a semiannual deep dive into the quantum computing market. Our latest version, published in December, focuses on the software layer of quantum systems.

ServiceNow takes a platform approach amid plans to emerge as the standard for enterprise workflows

TBR perspective

Defining reputation as a platform company

While many customers are poised to increasingly adopt best-of-breed solutions for diverse use cases, ServiceNow’s roots as a platform company allow the vendor to sidestep many traditional SaaS competitors and lead with a best-of-suite approach. The Now Platform — dubbed by CEO Bill McDermott as the “platform of all platforms” — is the driving force behind ServiceNow’s workflow narrative, as it is where all products are built and serves as a foundation for ServiceNow to stitch together its IT, employee, customer and creator workflows for lines of business and C-Suite clients.

The way companies operate is hybrid in nature, with multiple departments running different systems, and rather than directly competing with ERP or CRM systems, ServiceNow is helping enable these applications through an integrated, vendor-neutral approach, which TBR views as increasingly imperative in today’s technology landscape. ServiceNow’s revenue profile is also receptive to this approach, as roughly 80% of new business for the company stems from existing customers, paving the way for ServiceNow to scale to $10 billion and beyond in annual revenues.

AI moves to forefront of ServiceNow’s platform strategy

Following the intelligent automation capabilities unveiled as part of the Orlando release in 1Q20 and the subsequent appointment of Vijay Narayanan to the newly created role of chief AI officer, ServiceNow’s plans to lead with AI are not unexpected. However, as the Now Platform continues to be positioned as the core product that enables workflow delivery, ServiceNow’s AI vision is evolving to deliver greater time-to-value and ROI for AI customers. To achieve this, ServiceNow has been leading with M&A to build on the existing capabilities of the Now Platform, including incidents, agents, documents and cases, among others. For example, in January ServiceNow expanded its foray into AIOps with the acquisition of Israel-based Loom Systems, which was a strategic callout in many event presentations, due to Loom Systems’ IT Service Management (ITSM) solution that relies on AIOps to predict and monitor IT incidents.

TBR believes ServiceNow will utilize Loom Systems’ expertise in AIOps technology as an interim step in helping customers transition to DevOps and agile methods and help bridge gaps between development and operations teams across departments. Additionally, in the AIOps market, ServiceNow is working with IBM (NYSE: IBM) to help customers preemptively identify incidents and initiate a faster response. While Loom Systems’ tool is already integrated as a previous partner into ITSM and IT Operations Management (ITOM), ServiceNow announced plans to re-platform this technology into the Now Platform with the Quebec release in March 2021, underscoring ServiceNow’s strategy of bringing all major innovations back into its foundational platform and increasing customer adoption.

TBR believes the next step beyond empowering AIOps will be broad-based automation and optimization, as ServiceNow unveiled new process automation offerings in the Paris release, including Process Automation Designer, which will be generally available in the Quebec release, and various playbooks that are now available across the Now Platform. As a feature of the Now Platform, Process Automation Designer automates cross-functional processes and provides managers with a customizable user interface. Meanwhile, administrators now have the option of selecting from no-code playbooks with Playbook Experience to provide agents with insight into their workflows, powered through Process Automation Designer. Future tuck-in acquisitions in the area of process automation cannot be ruled out as ServiceNow looks to continues to strengthen its foundational play.

ServiceNow Digital Analyst Summit: In between reporting another strong earnings quarter in 3Q20 and releasing the Now Platform Paris, ServiceNow (NYSE: NOW) hosted a virtual industry analyst event, which included two days of breakout sessions, one-on-one discussions with company leadership, and product demonstrations. Key highlights included the company’s product strategy, which continues to underscore the importance of the Now Platform; how ServiceNow is redefining its go-to-market engine through partnerships and industry solutions; and the refinement of the company’s cloud strategy.

Hybrid engagements will become necessary and valuable in 2021

Here comes hybrid

Hybrid engagements, in which IT services vendors and consultancies deliver both virtually and face-to-face, did not first arrive in 2020, but there has been one dramatic change from pre-pandemic days: universal acceptance that hybrid engagements will be necessary and can be a valuable way to conduct business. In 2021 vendors and consultancies with the perfect hybrid engagement model will outperform peers and accelerate consolidation across the IT ecosystem.

We always come back to the idea that services is fundamentally about people delivering value to other people. And for years, we have heard IT services vendors and consultancies extol the values of connecting humans and machines, expanding human experiences with artificial intelligence, and improving human work with robotic process automation. The human + machine future is here now, and it is hybrid. For many IT services vendors and consultancies, accelerating that digital transformation journey to hybrid engagements will require retraining talent, reconvincing clients of value and partnering differently across the ecosystem.

Maybe the best example of the hybrid engagement model for IT services vendors and consultancies is the application of hybrid in American schools as a reaction to COVID-19. U.S. elementary school teachers — whose average age is over 40 — have become more technologically adept and better at delivering lessons to both a camera and a classroom. Teachers have learned to manage virtual breakout pods and gauge virtual interactions. Students know the social benefits of being in the classroom but now understand that remote learning can include more depth and detail and a more concentrated learning process. (Of course, this is not true for all students and teachers, just as hybrid IT services and consulting engagements have not been perfect for all IT services vendors and consultants.) IT services professionals and consultants can now become far more adept at delivering both in person and remotely and have made collaborative technologies a natural extension of the job. Clients now receive services and adapt to different ways of working, recognizing the value, cadence and duration of services relationships can be sustained without face-to-face encounters. And just as everyone wants students back in the classroom full time, everyone also realizes on some level that some things have changed forever. No more snow days, ever. Business travel will never be the same. Digital transformations will accelerate and emerging technologies will increasingly permeate every aspect of IT services and consulting, bringing newfound speed and adoption both virtually and in person.

The following predictions examine how hybrid engagements might develop further in 2021, the potential impact of hybrid engagements on IT services vendors’ and consultancies’ technology partner ecosystems, and the revival of industry clouds across the entire IT market.

2021 Predictions

  • Hybrid selling and delivery replaces face-to-face as the standard and preferred engagement model
  • Emerging technologies necessitate more complex ecosystems, pressuring all players in IT services to partner differently
  • Industry clouds return, with competitive consequences for it services vendors and consultancies 

Register for TBR’s 2021 Services & Digital Predictions webinar, Hybrid engagements will become necessary and valuable in 2021, Jan. 20, 2022.

Technology Business Research 2021 Predictions is a special series examining market trends and business changes in key markets. Covered segments include cloud, telecom, devices & commercial IoT, data center, and services & digital.

Secureworks: A force for good in an unsafe world

Taking a holistic fight to the enemy

Over the two-day Secureworks Analyst Event, multiple Secureworks (Nasdaq: SCWX) executives emphasized the company’s broad vision of belonging to, and leading, a larger cybersecurity community dedicated to helping customers, in the words of Secureworks CEO Mike Cote, “outpace adversaries.” Through a strategic shift toward providing platforms and software, Secureworks has begun repositioning itself within that larger community, becoming a more holistic provider of security offerings for its clients. In TBR’s view, this new emphasis on enabling “the right response rapidly,” as Cote said, and bringing the cybersecurity community together around shared challenges may set Secureworks apart in 2021.

Security at scale to meet customer needs  

Framing Secureworks’ place in the cybersecurity ecosystem, President of Customer Success Wendy Thomas said the company’s new cloud-native security software platform, boosted by embedded machine learning and workflow automation, has positioned Secureworks to be the security platform of choice. With 20-plus years of security operations experience, a global security brand, a scalable network effect, and market-leading threat intelligence, the company is, in Thomas’ estimation, “uniquely positioned to democratize access to security at scale” and meet its mission of securing “human progress by outpacing and outmaneuvering ever-evolving adversaries.” Thomas substantiated the assertions, noting that Secureworks’ experience and expertise enabled the company to bring significant cybersecurity-specific research to its shift into platforms and software. Secureworks, Thomas said, had embedded threat researchers into its software development teams, ensuring that the company’s software was purposefully built by security experts and security operators. To address customer needs, Thomas said Secureworks had begun transitioning existing customers to a cloud-based platform, starting with a standard consulting approach that focuses on building a journey map to demonstrate how well Secureworks knows the customer and its security environment. According to Thomas, Secureworks then develops a solution as “turnkey as possible,” while creating the feeling, for the client, of “an upgrade to first class,” with optimal security coverage and hygiene. In TBR’s view, Secureworks’ understanding of its own role in the cybersecurity ecosystem and evolving appreciation of its customers’ needs underpin the company’s pivot from a standard MSSP to a consulting-led platform and software provider, which could help Secureworks become a leading vendor across the cybersecurity market.  

Over two days of virtual sessions, Secureworks executives, partners and customers presented to analysts the company’s pivot toward a platform and products company, detailing changes to Secureworks’ offerings, go-to-market strategy and sales structure. The event included extensive interaction with the broad Secureworks team and individual sessions for TBR with the company’s leadership. The following includes TBR’s assessment of the event and perspectives from ongoing analysis of Secureworks; the cybersecurity space; and Secureworks’ primary shareholder, Dell Technologies.  

2021 will bring more demand, more partnerships, more industry innovation to cloud

Certain uncertainty will accelerate cloud adoption in 2021

Despite living with the COVID-19 pandemic for most of 2020, so much remains uncertain. The timing and impact of a vaccine, whether or not there is additional government stimulus, and the changing economic environment will all have a profound impact on what occurs in 2021, and those are just the factors we know about. This uncertainty is reflected in TBR’s survey of 200 IT decision makers. When asked when they expect the business impacts of COVID-19 will subside, 78% of respondents expect the effects to subside sometime in 2021, but the responses diverge in terms of which quarter of 2021.

As a result of this continued uncertainty, flexibility in business operations and the IT resources that support them is more valuable than ever. Cloud was sought out based on necessity during the initial outbreak of COVID-19, but that behavior will persist in 2021 for two main reasons: flexibility and innovation. The ability to shift resources, enable more remote work, and scale cloud services up and down as needed are value propositions that resonate especially well in the current environment. Innovation is a broad concept and can cross analytics, integration and security realms. More generally, customers see value in the ongoing investments their cloud providers are making and in their ability to seamlessly access those enhancements. For these reasons, customers expect to accelerate their cloud adoption in 2021, regardless of exactly when the effects of COVID-19 subside. They may not know exactly what the business climate will hold, but they understand the flexibility and innovation that come with cloud-delivered solutions will play a role in helping them weather 2021.

2021 Cloud Predictions

  • Industry clouds become the norm
  • Partnership models support cloud demand in new era
  • Containers will challenge the legacy virtualization model

Technology Business Research 2021 Predictions is a special series examining market trends and business changes in key markets. Covered segments include cloud & software, telecom, devices & commercial IoT, data center, and services & digital.

End game for Northrop Grumman’s IT services business

On Dec. 7, Northrop Grumman announced the sale of its federal IT services operations to an affiliate of Veritas Capital, confirming rumors that began in late October with a report that the company had retained a strategic adviser to review a potential divestiture of its technology services group.

The ‘spin-merge’ will create a $3B-plus federal IT services competitor

The transaction will net Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) nearly $3.4 billion in cash and involve the merger of Northrop’s federal IT and mission support businesses with Peraton, the former IT services group of Harris Corp. Peraton was acquired by Veritas in 2017 for nearly $700 million. After the deal closes during 1H21, the new entity will have an initial revenue base of between $3.2 billion and $3.4 billion, by TBR’s estimates. Northrop indicated in the Securities and Exchange Commission filing accompanying the divestiture notice that the consolidated IT operations included in the transaction would account for roughly $2.3 billion in revenue in 2020, spread across three of its four principal business groups: $1.6 billion from the Defense Systems unit, $500 million from the Mission Systems unit, and $200 million from the Space Systems segment. Peraton generated just over $1 billion in revenue in 2019, according to TBR research. Veritas has not indicated plans for an IPO for the entity, and we expect the new company will initially remain privately held but eventually be taken public.

2018 blockbuster space acquisition, 2019 restructuring, and 2020 strategic defense contract bred speculation Northrop’s IT unit was losing relevance

One might trace the genesis of the announced sale of Northrop’s IT services business back to the company’s $7.7 billion acquisition of Orbital ATK in 2018. Buying Orbital ATK expanded Northrop’s addressable market in the space and missile defense sector with capabilities in small space systems, launch vehicles and propulsion, and missiles and advanced precision munitions. Orbital ATK was rebranded as Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems following the acquisition. At the time, the bulk of Northrop’s IT services operations resided in the former Technology Services (TS) group, which was eventually folded into the larger Defense Systems (DS) unit when the company restructured its business lines in late 2019. Adding Orbital ATK generated cross-selling opportunities for TS in large-scale sustainment, logistics, cybersecurity and operations services, but a similarly expanded opportunity set for the legacy enterprise IT services segment of TS remained unclear. Likewise, it was uncertain if the $13.3 billion phase of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program that Northrop won with the U.S. Air Force in September 2020 would avail enterprise IT-related opportunities in systems integration or other offerings to the company’s TS group. GBSD will clearly generate multibillion-dollar revenue streams for the company’s Space Systems unit — evidenced by the segment’s 50%, or nearly $12 billion, sequential increase in backlog in 3Q20 that is attributable almost solely to GBSD. There may be additional pull-through opportunities for mission-enhancing capabilities provided by Northrop’s Mission Systems unit as part of GBSD. GBSD may also offer occasions for Northrop DS to provide integrated air and missile defense solutions, integrated battle command systems, training and simulation, and sustainment services.

PwC Australia: Trending in all the right directions

New realities lead to improved skills in engaging and delivering remotely

To start the session, Mohamed Kande, PwC vice chair and U.S. and global advisory leader, made two key points, which echoed throughout the rest of the session. First, Kande noted that after seven months of working through a pandemic, PwC had honed its skills in working remotely and delivering virtually, confident that the value PwC brought to clients had not been diminished by pandemic-induced disruption. Second, Kande explained that the firm had been honing its technology capabilities, looking at solutions that could be upgraded to improve virtual delivery, particularly around cloud, based on the spike in client demand for cloud-based platforms and applications. Shifting from global to regional, PwC’s David McKeering, Australia consulting leader and ASEANZ Consulting CEO, noted that challenges in emerging markets and mature markets had converged around similar themes, reflecting the international impact of the pandemic and the ubiquity of trends in technology, particularly around digital transformation. He added that PwC’s clients had moved quickly to adjust to the new realities caused by COVID-19, such as a nearly all-remote workforce, and, as they had begun to understand some of the benefits of new operating environments, were now looking to PwC to help make those changes around technology, productivity and resilience sustainable. McKeering optimistically commented that clients across the Asia Pacific region were talking about recovery and anticipating a return to growth in 2021.  

Building on the positives wrought by the pandemic

Regarding Australia, Tom Seymour, CEO of PwC Australia, said local clients, including business-to-consumer enterprises and government agencies, understood the need to interact digitally and accelerate customer-centric transformation strategies. He further noted that a more volatile M&A market drove opportunities for PwC to assist in stitching together various IT environments and digital transformation initiatives. Looking at the current market and anticipating trends around technology adoption and business model changes, Seymour predicted that execution on digital strategies would begin to separate winners and losers across the Australian economy. Julie Coates, PwC Australia’s managing partner and financial services industry leader, extended Seymour’s comments, noting that the firm has begun working differently with clients, including shifting from traditional time-and-materials commercial arrangements to collaborating on outcomes, a signal to clients that PwC has bought into their digital transformations. Coates highlighted the value of the BXT (Business, eXperience, Technology) framework in the way PwC engages with clients, noting in particular how the eXperience element frequently leads to broader discussions around digital transformation.

From their offices in Australia, PwC executives hosted a couple dozen regional and global analysts on Nov. 24 for a two-hour virtual session, highlighting local and regional leadership and a marquee client story. Notably for an analyst event, PwC spent less than half the time presenting and instead turned to the analysts for extensive question-and-answer sessions. TBR’s summary of the session is also informed by its ongoing research and analysis of PwC.  

COVID-19 changes everything: What’s next for devices and IoT?

In pandemic recovery, IoT will contribute to organizations’ resilience, while PC sales will suffer from saturation

The COVID-19 outbreak has had two effects on pre-existing trends: In many cases, such as the migration to remote working, it has accelerated them, and in others, like the deployment of voice solutions in workplace environments, it has interrupted them. Where trends are accelerated, we can expect a slowdown or temporary rebound as the economy recovers from the impacts of the pandemic, followed by a resumption of the trend. Where trends are interrupted, resumption will often be delayed until later in the recovery, when there is less uncertainty.

Under these circumstances, it is worthwhile to look back at last year’s predictions:

  • There will be less talk of IoT, as it will be increasingly viewed as one technique among many for delivering digital transformation.

This trend was accelerated by the pandemic, as organizations focused on operating in the crisis and preparing for greater uncertainty during and following the recovery. In a sense, once IoT was better understood by customer organizations, including IT, operational technology (OT) and business management, it no longer required special attention. The focus shifted from the enabling technology, IoT, to the problems to be solved using all techniques including IoT.

  • AI in IoT will increasingly be encapsulated in specific functions like recognition and detection.

This trend was also accelerated by the pandemic, as organizations focused on point solutions that included IoT and strategic solutions that incorporated data from all sources, including from IoT. At the edge, AI is aimed at improving operations by increasing efficiency and reducing errors as well as recognizing things like anomalies and patterns that imply a need for service. IoT-generated data contributes to AI-enabled business analysis, but that is as part of a larger body of data, including data from other sources, and is typically done either in the cloud or in on-premises data centers.

  • Conversational user interfaces, based on voice or typed communication, will play an increasing role in business solutions.

Many natural language processing (NLP) projects have been deferred or slowed due to pandemic constraints as well as organizations diverting attention and dollars to more pressing needs or to husbanding resources for a more uncertain future. A minority of NLP projects, especially ones already in use, have been accelerated because they reduce dependency on human operators. While conversational solutions remain in the digital transformation tool kit, TBR believes NLP will remain a lower priority for the first stages of recovery, as organizations look to solutions that increase resilience and transparency.

This focus on digital transformation for resilience and transparency, giving organizations the flexibility to adapt to changing conditions in the pandemic recovery and economic unpredictability, is, TBR believes, the next phase in the evolution of commercial IoT. At the same time, the PC industry faces a saturation-driven reduction in demand following a pandemic-driven surge in 2020.

2021 Devices & Commercial IoT Predictions

  • The emergence of the chief data officer role will increase organizational clarity, accelerating IoT adoption
  • Packaged solutions and components will become more important
  • Despite enjoying an increase in TAM, PC vendors suffer from market saturation, a weak global economy and demand for resale units

Technology Business Research 2021 Predictions is a special series examining market trends and business changes in key markets. Covered segments include cloud & software, telecom, devices & commercial IoT, data center, and services & digital.