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Get ready for a major culture shift at IBM

“In a blog post, Merrill claimed that while CEOs typically come from a finance or sales and marketing background, the current market climate is one where expertise can help business leaders thrive. In IBM’s case, Krishna was previously the senior vice president of cloud and cognitive software at IBM and Whitehurst was senior vice president of IBM and CEO of Red Hat. ‘Krishna’s presence should assure customers, particularly those with primary concerns around IBM’s product road map and the ways in which IBM will build out the safe, secure and innovative ecosystems components for the new multi-enterprise business networks and company federations,’ Merrill said.” — ARN

IBM’s executive shakeup gets analysts’ stamp of approval

“Analysts have also chimed in with cautious optimism, including Geoff Woollacott, principal analyst and senior strategy consultant with TBR Cloud and Software. ‘The current climate is a different kind of IT landscape. The requirements and demands from enterprises are vastly different, which necessitates a different kind of leader. Arvind Krishna is, therefore, well suited to articulate and assure customers going forward,’ he told WRAL TechWire by email. Elitsa Bakalova, professional services senior analyst at TBR, added that it will bring a ‘fresh perspective.’ ‘Promoting the CEO from within is something that typically inspires employees and will prevent potential challenges related to future strategic direction of the company. The new CEO has a long history with IBM, he is a technologists and an operations expert,’ he said. Catie Merrill, research analyst at TBR, however, maintained a ‘wait-and-see’ approach. ‘IBM, with the help of Red Hat’s platform, is looking to take customers’ mission-critical back-office workloads to the cloud, in what it deems to be ‘Chapter 2 of the cloud’. This is a competency that has yet to be proven but may hold true under new leadership.'” — WRALTechWire

Big Blue turns purple

Rometty steps down, making way for cloud champion Krishna as IBM’s new CEO

At close of business on Jan. 30, IBM unveiled Virginia Rometty was stepping down as CEO. Arvind Krishna, current SVP of Cloud and Cognitive Software at IBM, will take over effective April 6. It was also announced that James Whitehurst, IBM senior vice president and CEO of Red Hat, will become the new IBM president, also effective April 6.

Traditionally, CEOs come from finance or sales and marketing. Finance leaders are tapped when the bottom line is the priority; sales and marketing leaders are selected when the top line is the priority. However, the current market climate presents a different kind of IT landscape. The rapidly shifting requirements and demands from enterprises necessitate a different kind of leader.

Krishna’s presence should assure customers, particularly those with primary concerns around IBM’s product road map and the ways in which IBM will build out the safe, secure and innovative ecosystems components for the new multi-enterprise business networks and company federations. Installing a career technologist at the helm addresses the marketing challenge of countering competitors that rose to prominence in Chapter 1 of cloud computing. Large enterprises seeking to future-proof their investments in Chapter 2 of the cloud, as digital transformation continues to transcend the enterprise, will look to IBM for a well-articulated technology vision.  

While Krishna will message to the market, Whitehurst will work on needed cultural change as IBM president

Much of IBM’s recent struggles have revolved around execution, as the organization’s culture and operating practices were misaligned to the prevailing ways of working and innovative best practices that came from native cloud competitors. IBM historically has deployed ROI business case justifications in silos that worked well for transaction selling. This ROI process has to give way to a companywide viewpoint of overall revenue contribution — or lifetime customer value — regardless of which discrete technology assets receive the recognition in the internal accounting process. The two models are not compatible. In purchasing Red Hat, IBM acquired a company with vastly different operating practices that created a sustainable and consistent revenue model based around a free product. Fourth quarter results showing Red Hat’s sequential growth and the traction IBM gained with its Cloud Pak rollouts are leading indicators of the directional shifts these two executives will steward.

In promoting Whitehurst to the role of president, IBM signals to customers, investors and employees that it will be changing its internal operating models to be more like those of Red Hat. Symbolically, this indicates the acquisition was more a merger of equals and should allay the concerns of the broad Red Hat ecosystem of developers and customers IBM has to retain and expand to realize the value IBM expects to gain from the purchase as it takes aim at becoming a share leader in Chapter 2 of the cloud.

Rometty started to write IBM’s cloud narrative, yet with Red Hat now in the mix, the story is far from finished

In many ways, IBM’s true cloud story began once Rometty stepped in to run Big Blue in 2012. Just over a year after assuming the role, IBM acquired SoftLayer in an attempt to become the leader in cloud computing and catch the leader in public cloud infrastructure, Amazon Web Services (AWS). However, amid heavy competition, SoftLayer quickly fell behind, causing IBM to shed the brand and incorporate the acquired control plane into what became IBM Bluemix — a rebranding effort with inconclusive results as it would ultimately become IBM Cloud. Over the past eight years, Rometty has been ambitious in laying out her goals to capture “the big 3” — AWS, Microsoft and Google — yet the market remained skeptical as IBM consistently failed to deliver on its top line and the ability to catch industry leaders was viewed as a pipe dream. In many ways, this prompted the acquisition of Red Hat — a $34 billion bet IBM officially made in July 2019 to take the 80% of customers still operating on premises to the cloud. Microsoft, with its competitive platform know-how through Azure, successfully captured cloud in its infancy by shifting customers’ front-end applications. However, IBM, with the help of Red Hat’s platform, is looking to take customers’ mission-critical back-office workloads to the cloud, in what it deems Chapter 2 of the cloud. This is a competency that has yet to be proven but may hold true under new leadership. 

Systems Hardware has been on a cloud-centric pivot for a while, and Krishna is likely to reinforce and cement this transition

TBR believes that from a hardware strategy perspective, the CEO shake-up will have little impact. The z14 and z15 refreshes have focused on positioning the venerable mainframe as a critical gateway into the hybrid multicloud world by building in critical firmware and software features to deliver the mainframe capability with public-cloud-like operating characteristics, enterprise-grade security and data management capabilities. TBR does not see this changing anytime soon.

A new CEO brings promise of stabilization to IBM Services, which has performed inconsistently over the past few years

While IBM’s CEO transition is not strictly tied just to IBM Services, it is a positive move for the services business. Over the past six years, IBM Services’ revenue has been uneven, and has largely been in decline during the past five quarters. Filling the role of CEO with an employee who has been with the company since 1990 and has been instrumental to the development of IBM’s cloud business and the acquisition of Red Hat will likely bring a fresh perspective to IBM and IBM Services, which has been struggling to overcome growth pressures in traditional labor-based services, such as in Global Technology Services and Global Process Services. Meanwhile, IBM Services is experiencing growth in cloud-related activities as the company leverages its technology incumbency to advise, migrate, build and manage clients’ hybrid cloud environments. IBM Services will benefit from IBM’s new public cloud offering for financial services clients, the new IBM Cloud Paks portfolio, and synergies from the Red Hat acquisition as well as the related launch of consulting and technology services offerings for Red Hat and multicloud management. However, such offerings have yet to gain scale to offset lingering growth challenges in traditional services segments.

Krishna’s experience and expertise, including around operations, will help IBM Services continue with its technology-led transformation value proposition and also help overcome execution challenges, which were present during 2019 and negatively affected services revenue growth and profitability. The Cloud and Cognitive Software business, which Krishna is currently leading, has been a growing business; sharing knowledge and supporting the ongoing market trend of convergence between services and software will help IBM Services transform into a growing business.  

 What to watch going forward

This is as critical a juncture for IBM as when it installed Lou Gerstner from the outside in 1993. In this transition, IBM is splitting the responsibilities between an IBM insider as chairman and an IBM outsider instrumental in building one of the best technology operating models for the new technology era. From this vantage point, TBR will be evaluating and monitoring the following:

  • Reorganization: IBM has to change how it works internally to align with subscription monetization models. Executive measurements have to shift to align to the best practices Red Hat has deployed building a business around free products. IBM historically has jettisoned business lines that lacked discrete profit metrics as stand-alone products. We will be looking to see which members of the respective teams move into leadership roles under the new stewardship.
  • Developer reactions: It is said the developer is king. TBR would expect the developer community to be heartened by these appointments, and we will be tracking this sentiment in our ongoing cloud research streams.
  • Employee reactions: Will this result in high-profile exits or will this provide middle managers with the air cover necessary to act more like “wild ducks” in IBM internal parlance?
  • Customer reactions: This will flow from the ongoing Wall Street analyst briefings on quarterly results. Rometty was conspicuously absent from many of these calls, and we expect that one or both of these new leaders will be available for the all-important Q&A sessions of these briefings.
  • Competitor reactions: Market share positions in Chapter 2 of the cloud are up for grabs, with many entities, notably Microsoft, AWS and Google aiming to become the de facto hybrid cloud standards. Traditional peers of IBM fared far worse than IBM in Chapter 1 and will struggle to remain relevant as anything more than a derived decision for increasingly commoditized infrastructure. IBM likewise has the installed base advantage for protecting enterprise IP assets. At issue, of course, is whether it can maintain that customer trust by articulating a product road map that resonates, coupled with an organization that can deliver on that vision. Krishna and Whitehurst have clear remits and track records to suggest they can deliver.

Quick Quantum Quips: Talent acquisition becomes a larger challenge as vendors achieve additional proof points

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 will keep 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.

January 2020 Developments

In January, changes in the quantum market revolved around IBM and its partnerships and coopetition with first movers in addition to pushing the first-mover advantage in live quantum computing systems. First, IBM offered a proof point of commercial viability in a partnership with Daimler and later saw top talent leave for IBM customer JPMorgan Chase. Another startup, QCI, entered the market, and the French government, recognizing the strategic importance of the technology, began outlining its investment strategy for quantum investments. 

  1. IBM unveiled a real-world application in the quantum computing space leveraging its quantum computing capabilities. In partnership with Daimler AG, IBM leveraged its quantum computing technologies to create and analyze lithium-containing molecule models as IBM strives to make higher-capacity and faster-charging batteries to bolster the electric car market. The ability to model — not simulate — a molecule will dramatically speed up the drug and material discovery process.
  2. IBM unveiled a new 28-qubit quantum system at CES 2020. The new system is said to have accomplished IBM’s goal of doubling quantum volume, achieving a score of 32 — up from 16 from last year. To emphasize the potential of quantum computing to speed up development, IBM leveraged its 53-qubit system to improve on the 28-qubit connectivity. The improved hexagonal lattice connectivity structure used in the development of the 28-qubit system was a contributing factor in the system’s ability to meet the quantum volume goal of 32.
  3. JPMorgan Chase, a current customer of IBM for quantum computing, poached one of IBM’s executives from the group. Marco Pistoia, who worked at IBM for 24 years, most recently led IBM’s quantum computing algorithm team. This departure underscores the challenges talent acquisition and retention will pose in the quantum computing space. Vendors are already working to fight against talent shortages. IBM, in particular, is investing heavily in academia to promote degrees in quantum-relevant fields, but the shortages will persist and talent acquisition and retention will be of rising concern as the technology matures. For further details on this announcement, please check out TBR’s blog post on the topic.
  4. Quantum Computing Inc., a startup in the space, unveiled a quantum application development platform called Mukai. This is largely in the experimental phase despite the formal announcement, but Mukai is designed to leverage software to improve speed of development of quantum-ready applications.
  5. France unveiled a framework for its quantum strategy. While many of the details remain undisclosed, likely due to the classified nature of government investments in emerging technologies, France is making formal efforts to invest in and leverage quantum technologies to improve its research capabilities, overall technological development and economic security. The public investment by governments in quantum technology highlights the value quantum technologies can bring and reinforces the eventual power of quantum, even though true commercial use of the technology remains a few years away. It also highlights a degree of fear among countries of creating vulnerabilities if they choose to ignore quantum’s potential. We have seen ongoing investments in quantum from China and the U.S. as well as a variety of European countries making consistent investments in the technology, including the Netherlands and Russia.

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.

Quantum computing talent war: JPMorgan Chase poaches a top IBM exec

“JPMorgan Chase announced on Jan. 22 the hiring of Marco Pistoia from IBM. A 24-year IBM employee with numerous patents to his credit, Pistoia most recently led an IBM team responsible for quantum computing algorithms. Algorithm development will be key to developing soundly engineered quantum computing systems that can deliver the business outcomes enterprises seek at a faster and more accurate pace than current classical computing systems. A senior hire into a flagship enterprise in the financial services industry is the proverbial canary in the coal mine, as TBR believes such actions suggest our prediction of quantum achieving economic advantage by 2021 remains on target.” — WRAL TechWire

Economic advantage: Preparing for lift off

Talent poaching within industry first warning of things to come

JPMorgan Chase announced on Jan. 22, 2020, the hiring of Marco Pistoia from IBM. A 24-year IBM employee with numerous patents to his credit, Pistoia most recently led an IBM team responsible for quantum computing algorithms. Algorithm development will be key to developing soundly engineered quantum computing systems that can deliver the business outcomes enterprises seek at a faster and more accurate pace than current classical computing systems.

A senior hire into a flagship enterprise in the financial services industry is the proverbial canary in the coal mine, as TBR believes such actions suggest our prediction of quantum achieving economic advantage by 2021 remains on target. Quantum executives discuss the three pillars of quantum commercialization as being:

  • Ongoing scientific discovery to improve the overall fidelity of quantum computing systems; discovery is not the same as a technology road map. These advancements are not easy to predict given the limited supply of individuals skilled in the topics as well as the challenge of pursuing breakthroughs solving the known unknowns.
  • Great advancements have been made in curating scientific discoveries into system components able to generate sufficient yield quality in manufacturing.
  • Application discovery has early activity, most notably in academic research institutions but also within blue chip establishments in the areas of financial services, healthcare, materials science and native cloud companies.

Scientific and engineering obstacles persist, bottlenecking progress. The fluid nature of IP sharing and innovation through ecosystem participation across the above three pillars means businesses that have a trusted track record around groundbreaking innovations will be first to gain the aforementioned economic advantage. As advantage nears, the early adopters will require senior talent with the vision to look across the landscape of technologies and potential use cases and prioritize efforts to gain advantage. Pistoia’s remit will be as the lead researcher for JPMorgan Chase’s Future Lab for Applied Research and Engineering, which seeks out commercial use cases around emerging technologies such as quantum, edge computing, 5G and IoT to create market distinction.

What lessons can be learned from this strategic hire in a domain with acute skills scarcities?

Losing a valued contributor to scientific innovation can certainly hinder an organization such as IBM and decimate smaller firms more reliant on a few key executives. The movement, however, is neither uncommon in industry nor unexpected. Leading technology companies and the professional services firms that translate their capabilities into business results are in the same situation as JPMorgan. Most companies in the industry have focused more on science and engineering than on translating these technical advancements into business value. As economic advantage nears, TBR expects:

  • Talent poaching between technology companies and the leading-edge enterprises they support will accelerate.
  • Advisory services and road maps will be built out rapidly. Smaller, quantum-specific firms will seek to establish these road maps out of necessity, while the advisory firms will likewise seek to find repeatable frameworks to scale across their existing account base. For example, IBM helps enterprises with early exploration through its QStart program while startup Xanadu has built a services team focused on executive education, early corporate preparations or prioritizations, and then the requisite technical training and technical diagnostic services to partner with first-mover enterprises.
  • The ecosystem will be further developed for the cross-sharing of algorithms and best practices as they pertain to the early use cases where economic advantage will appear first.
  • Industry hype and impatience around expected investment returns from enterprise leadership and venture capitalists will continue to present challenges.

Quantum is not a short-term opportunistic investment. In TBR’s opinion, it remains a necessary long-term investment where diligence coupled with patience situate enterprises to exploit first-mover advantage as well as mitigate the risks of falling victim to an economic extinction event brought about by competitor advancements in determining where, and in what sequence, quantum can yield economic advantage.

TBR’s next Quantum Computing Market Landscape will explore the professional services offerings in place or being established by the key market entrants and is due for publication in June 2020. We welcome input on the topical questions our readership would like to see addressed.

Other recent quantum-related publications:

Quick quantum quips: Cloud players are now looking for a piece of the quantum pie

Quantum Computing Market Landscape 4Q19 company rankings

Translating quantum science into business value: Tradeoffs between precision, speed and cost

Quick quantum quips: Hardware entrances gain VC funds while established innovators partner across architectures to secure a place in the broader quantum ecosystem

Traditional ports and quantum computing: The now and the future

Quick quantum quips: A call for quantum supremacy sends ripples through the market

Can IBM pivot fast enough?

This week, TBR publishes its initial thoughts on IBM’s 4Q19 performance, featuring insights from our data center and professional services analysts.

“Another quarter, another IBM Initial Response from TBR. And while our initial report on IBM’s earnings release remains constant, IBM’s strategy and investment focuses continue to pivot,” says Analyst Stephanie Long. “This quarter we’re looking at recent developments in IBM’s quantum computing business, including how high-performance computing ties into the market, as well as what’s new in IBM’s Systems Hardware portfolio and strategy.”

Senior Analyst Elitsa Bakalova adds, “IBM is winning transformational deals that include consulting, implementation and management of next-generation solutions such as cloud, AI, blockchain and IoT. IBM is advancing in quantum computing research and expanding outside the U.S., in Germany and Japan, to broaden the practical application of quantum computing and speed up the development of the digital economy. Enabling hybrid cloud adoption remains at the forefront of IBM’s strategy, and the extended partnerships with VMware and HCL Technologies solidify IBM’s ability to transform clients’ infrastructure and application environments.”

Additional assessments from our analyst teams

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) closed 2019 with continued revenue growth, which TBR attributes to ongoing investments in its solution suite and talent pool, alongside aggressive pricing. Strengthening its digital capabilities that enable technology-based transformation, at scale, for the company’s global clientele will drive further growth in 2020. Additionally, preserving a low turnover rate compared to India-centric peers will be important for TCS.” Kevin Collupy, Analyst

On Wednesday Principal Analyst Patrick Heffernan, Senior Analyst Boz Hristov, Analyst Kevin Collupy and Research Analyst Kelly Lesiczka discussed IT services and professional services market developments of 2019 and expectations for 2020, including why TBR anticipates at least one IT services vendor or management consultancy calling an end to the term “digital.” Check out the replay of this webinar, “The end of ‘digital,’ anytime in TBR’s Webinar Portal.

Quick Quantum Quips: Cloud players are now looking for a piece of the quantum pie

The quantum market changes rapidly, and the hype can often distract from the realities of the technological developments. In our new monthly newsletter, Quick Quantum Quips (Q3), TBR will brief readers on the latest market announcements, stripping that hype to dig deeper into how recent events will impact the market as a whole. To schedule a time to chat with Analyst Stephanie Long about any of the insights below, contact her at [email protected].

DECEMBER 2019 DEVELOPMENTS:

  • D-Waveunveiled a partnership with NEC to bring hybrid quantum computing capabilities to market. Simply put, this partnership merges D-Wave quantum capabilities with NEC’s classical computing portfolio. On a deeper level, it provides D-Wave with a $10 million investment by NEC and access to the Japanese market, while NEC can provide its domestic market of Japan with a local alternative to quantum offerings similar to those of Fujitsu.
  • IBM announced the public availability of a quantum system allowing for pulse access, which is unique because it provides users with increased control compared to more traditional gate-level control. This development is in conjunction with a new version of Qiskit, and IBM Quantum Experience members have public access to this new capability. Pulse access provides users with an in-person feel to their quantum computing experience. Because of the delicate and expensive nature of quantum systems, they are currently available only via the cloud.
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS), in response to Microsoft Azure Quantum, unveiled Amazon Braket (currently only a preview of the offering), which is Amazon’s initial attempt to turn quantum computing into an easily accessible cloud service. Currently, only AWS corporate accounts will have access to the service, and access will be granted to systems from AWS partners D-Wave, Rigetti and IonQ. Like offerings from IBM and Microsoft, this cloud offering will provide a hybrid computing model for customers that will provide choice of underlying quantum architectures abstracted from the software programming. Innovations at the hardware level will not impede the ongoing software development or hedge customers’ and cloud providers’ bets on the technology.
  • Russia entered the quantum arms race this month, as Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov announced that Russia will invest $790 million into basic and applied quantum research over the next five years. The primary goal is for the country to build its own working quantum computer, with secondary goals of developing algorithms to run on this system to mine databases and create highly secure communication networks. The country is behind major players China and the U.S. in terms of the number of government initiatives that it has made public, but TBR believes Russia has likely been investing in the technology prior to making this announcement. Still, this is the first major public quantum announcement by Russia to date.
  • Accenture opened a NanoLab in Colombia designed to provide local Accenture customers with access to emerging technologies, including AI, robotics, blockchain and quantum computing. TBR believes that because Accenture’s quantum services play is funded by early adopters to jointly develop capabilities, increasing exposure of customers to the technology can increase interest in quantum computing overall as well as funding once more customers are able to uncover the advantages they can employ through such a relationship with Accenture.

If you would like to receive 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.

Quick Quantum Quips: Hardware entrants gain VC funds while established innovators partner across architectures to secure a place in the broader quantum ecosystem

The quantum market changes rapidly, and the hype can often distract from the realities of the technological developments. In our new monthly newsletter, Quick Quantum Quips (Q3), TBR will brief readers on the latest market announcements, stripping that hype to dig deeper into how recent events will impact the market as a whole. Contact Stephanie Long ([email protected]) or Geoff Woollacott ([email protected]) to schedule a time to chat on any of the insights below.

November 2019 developments:

  1. Microsoft partnered with IonQ and Honeywell, which will provide the foundational quantum hardware for Microsoft’s Azure Quantum cloud. This was a major announcement in the quantum computing space in terms of real-world application of the technology. Microsoft can now tie its traditional cloud capabilities in with quantum offerings, addressing customer demands for a hybrid computing and flexible quantum experience. TBR notes that IonQ and Honeywell both focus on trapped ion quantum computing, suggesting Microsoft deliberately chose these vendors for their unique hardware capabilities. Partnerships in the quantum space have been ramping up in general, especially between hardware and software players, as these vendors take lessons from classical computing speedbumps and streamline their processes for the quantum era.
  2. Fermilab launched a new Institute for Quantum Science, reaffirming the U.S. government’s interest in leveraging the technology for various uses. Fermilab is more formally known as the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and has been investing in particle physics and accelerator technology for more than 50 years.
  3. IBMcontinues to pursue its cross-technology strategy to partner for accelerated innovation. We have seen this strategy play out for IBM in various markets, including blockchain and AI with Watson. Most recently in the quantum space, IBM unveiled a partnership with the Unitary Fund to jointly develop open-source projects for quantum computing. Additionally, IBM’s recent partnership with IonQ regarding QisKit reinforces IBM’s overall vendor agnosticism despite targeted hardware investments in superconducting quantum computing. The vendor seeks to capitalize on the most lucrative aspects of the larger quantum market.
  4. PsiQuantum is a stealth quantum startup focused on developing quantum hardware. Of  significance is PsiQuantum’s ability to recently raise $230 million while remaining relatively quiet, suggesting the startup’s road map is highly desired by investors. It is likely that the investment PsiQuantum received is one of the largest in the quantum industry to date, making this even more significant. PsiQuantum has offices in the U.K. and the U.S. and is developing a general-purpose silicon photon quantum computer. Its U.S. location in Palo Alto, Calif.,  positions the startup nicely within Silicon Valley, where it can readily access chip manufacturing expertise.  PsiQuantum’s founder, Jeremy O’Brien, is a professor at the University of Bristol and the director for the Centre for Quantum Photonics.
  5. Atos partnered with Zapata with the goal of delivering an end-to-end quantum computing solution by combining Zapata’s Orquestra quantum software with Atos’ Quantum Learning Machine. The solution is expected to be able to address specific vertical market demands. TBR believes the software functionality will be tweaked to enable this vertical differentiation.

That is all for this month’s Quick Quantum Quips from TBR. If you wish to receive 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.

Quick Quantum Quips: A call for quantum supremacy sends ripples through the market

The quantum market changes rapidly, and the hype can often distract from the realities of the technological developments. In our new monthly newsletter, Quick Quantum Quips (Q3), TBR will brief readers on the latest market announcements, stripping that hype to dig deeper into how recent events will impact the market as a whole. To schedule a time to chat with Analyst Stephanie Long or another one of TBR’s quantum analysts about any of the insights below, contact her at [email protected].

October 2019 developments:

  1. Google claimed it achieved quantum supremacy in mid-October, sending ripples through the quantum community. Quantum supremacy is a key milestone many leaders in the quantum computing space have been working toward for years. If true, this milestone would mean that quantum theory has successfully been translated into practical applications, so such a claim has major implications for the industry overall. Google claims its quantum computer was able to perform a truly random number generation in 200 seconds — and that the task would have taken a supercomputer 10,000 years to complete. Further, truly random number generation is necessary for quantum-safe security solutions, making this announcement a multifaceted milestone in the quantum community. Critics of Google’s claim state that it is possible to achieve very similar results in 2.5 days on a supercomputer, although it would require 250 petabytes of storage to do so, potentially diminishing the size of Google’s “milestone” achievement but confirming it as an achievement nonetheless.
  • IBM has been in the news consistently during October for its strong claims against Google’s quantum supremacy claims. TBR believes that the strong opposition signifies the power being the first company to achieve quantum supremacy can hold as well as the damage to the industry an unrealistic claim can cause through false hyping of the technology. The industry already struggles with hype, which pushes C-Suite executives to invest in and expect quick results from a technology that is meant for the long game, and skewed claims only stand to increase the negative impacts of the hype. As such, IBM has made a significant effort to minimize the hype surrounding Google’s announcement to reveal the complete facts surrounding the achievement.
  • IonQ received its latest round of funding in October — to the tune of $55 million. Samsung and a sovereign wealth fund of the United Arab Emirates led the funding this round, while Google, Amazon and New Enterprise Associates re-upped their commitments from earlier funding rounds. The investments in IonQ are significant, as the list includes some potential competitors such as Google. TBR notes that Google is investing in superconducting quantum computing, which presently leads the charge in terms of advancements. However, IonQ’s theory of trapped ion quantum computing is unique in that it does not require cryogenically cold environments to function, making its approach seem more realistic in that it would have broader, more practical commercial applicability. TBR believes Google’s investment in IonQ demonstrates its strong cash position and focus on the applied uses for quantum over being wedded to any particular hardware structure. Google, like many enterprises, is more focused on application exploration rather than the sale of quantum systems.

  • In a true demonstration of the sheer power quantum computing can unleash, customers are jumping on the innovation train to accelerate the development of both the technology and related skills. Airbus announced that it has compiled a list of leading experts to act as judges for its quantum computing competition. The Airbus Quantum Computing Challenge launched earlier this year and is designed to encourage experts and those interested in quantum computing to tackle some of the more complex computational problems for aerospace. All proposals needed to be received by Oct. 31 and are now being reviewed by the team of judges that Airbus compiled. Jury members come from all geographies and from both industrial and academic organizations, including QC Ware, Horizons Quantum Computing, the University of Waterloo, the University of Technology Sydney, QuSoft, the University of California and more. The announcement is significant because a commercial enterprise is recognizing the value quantum can bring to its business and displaying an eagerness to contribute to the advancement of the quantum ecosystem.
  • QC Ware unveiled the list of speakers for its upcoming quantum computing event, Q2B. The event will take place in California in December. Program details can be found at the link provided.

If you would like your company’s announcement featured in an upcoming Q3, contact Geoff Woollacott to coordinate a conversation.