Quantum computing: The next insurance frontier?

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There’s little doubt that we are seeing significant advances in the practical application of technology in the insurance industry today. From the pursuit of API strategies, to the increased workloads placed on cloud environments, to the effective use of mobile capabilities, to reimagining experiences across the value chain, the advances are noteworthy. In some cases, they’re breathtaking.

Twice a year, Novarica hosts an immersion experience for senior insurance IT leaders that allows them to get boots-on-the-ground perspective on the related fields of InsureTech and innovation. The report published after our February Silicon Valley Innovation Tour is instructive. If you’re interested in discussing the next availability for this networking opportunity, please send me a note at rmcisaac@novarica.com.

A new (and still evolving) idea that has emerged recently is the growing interest in quantum computing. While very much in its early stages of development, the theory of quantum computing (which moves from processing based on the binary states supported by digital computers to something based on many more than two simple states) dates to initial work published in 1980. Hardly a new concept but, like many things, the move from theoretical to practical can take some time. For a “tongue in cheek” example of that, think about all those great ideas Gene Roddenberry had for Star Trek in 1966!

We noted in a recent report that quantum computing is gaining traction in Silicon Valley. Gains are especially being made near UC Berkeley, one of the major research universities in the Bay Area. Early days for sure, but the idea of quantum computing is no longer the stuff from which good sci-fi stories can be made.

A new and fascinating story came out of another top-tier engineering school, North Carolina State, one of the trio of schools that frame a key East Coast innovation hub Research Triangle Park. The school has a long history with advanced technology and has now announced that it will become one of four schools worldwide, and the first in North America, to be partnering with IBM on their commercial quantum computing network.

When on the advisory board at NC State’s computer science and engineering department some years ago, I saw first-hand the advances being made in areas like cloud computing. It was long before I could practically use cloud capabilities in a commercial way as a CIO, but the experience helped frame a strong belief that I needed to pay close attention to the technology as it matured. Of course, cloud has now gone mainstream and an increasingly frequent question for CIOs is “why would I host anything anywhere else?”

Will quantum computing follow a similar path? It’s of course too early to know, but is it worth burning some cycles to remain situationally aware? The smart play is yes.

This blog entry has been reprinted with permission from Novarica.

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