Saturday, August 20, 2022

Is your PMO worried about 'quantum supremacy'?

What kind of a question is this? 
Is your PMO worried about 'quantum supremacy'?
Actually, some are.

Some of the world's largest banks' IT PMOs are staffing to get answers about how the coming .... but not here yet .... supremacy of quantum computing may affect their projects. And that's to say nothing about comparable PMOs in the law enforcement and intelligence communities, pharmaceuticals, weather, and others.

And before 'supremacy' there comes 'quantum advantage' according to Marco Pistoia, who runs JPMorgan's global technology applied research group. 
  • Quantum advantage means competitive but not overwhelming benefits from quantum computing (Some of this is happening now at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, for instance)
  • Quantum supremacy means overwhelming capability that brings into the frame computing tasks that would never have even been attempted.
What are the issues for PMOs?
For purposes of discussion, they break down into three broad areas:
  1. Threats
  2. Benefits
  3. Operations
The threat comes from bad actors who acquire quantum capabilities and seek to break into (by solving the decryption, etc.) secure project or business communications, or to break into secure project databases that might have valuable intellectual property or privacy information, to name just a couple of computing-intensive tasks.

So security, heretofore provided by the awesomeness of the computing task to overcome encryption and other security barriers, won't be enough. Many PMOs have to communicate over broad areas, so physical exposure of sensitive communications and data is inevitable.

Of course, quantum encryption by the bad guys of their own stuff may also threaten conventional means to decrypt their nefarious communications.

The benefits are almost self-evident: projects that were stymied or impractical by conventional computing capabilities may come into the frame. There may be new science, perhaps even new physics (gasp!)
And certainly a new level of risk management may become available for the truly hard-to-model and understand risk events.
Security techniques that might have been uneconomical may become attractive. 
Data warehouses may provide some residual or latent value that was hidden behind the lack of capacity and capability of conventional computing. 

Operations break into three categories:
  1. "Keeping up with the neighbors". If you're a big bank, big pharma, big weather, or big anything you have to keep up with your competitors, if not beat them. So your project office, as a component of your enterprise, needs to keep up as well

  2. "Move to the cloud". It's more likely than not that your quantum computing experience is going to be cloud based. Such is already in place for some government and educational projects at Oak Ridge in the "quantum computing hub".
    If now you don't understand the cloud as an enterprise computing platform useful in the PMO and the projects generally, now is not too early to get yourself a project based in the cloud and acquire some experience. 

  3. "Staff for expertise". First, you'll need advisors that can keep track of the technology and explain the utility in terms understandable in the PMO. That's where the banks are starting. Then, you're going to need software people who can architect tasks to fit quantum computers, and other software people to write the code and spin the wheels. 
    And, consider strategic partnerships, especially with the early adopters which tend to be in the research universities, national laboratories, and certain other research centers.
And then there's "entanglement"
Entanglement, somewhat pooh poohed by Einstein, is no-lag-time communication between quantum units without wire and wireless. Literally instantaneous, as it were.
And, such was recently demonstrated over a distance of 20 miles! 
Entanglement brings a new dimension to quantum computing, which may be even beyond "supremacy".

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