Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: The CIO's guide to quantum computing

CIO Jury: How quantum computing will affect the enterprise

The impact of quantum computing is a popular topic. Some industries expect to see more changes from it than others.

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Quantum computing allows companies to take a new approach to analyzing information. It offers the enterprise an opportunity to process data and solve previously intractable problems. Because of the incredible possibilities of quantum computing, vendors such as IBM, Microsoft, Google, Rigetti Computing and IonQ are among those in a race for quantum supremacy.

Special Feature

Special Report: The CIO's guide to Quantum computing (free PDF)

Quantum computers offer great promise for cryptography and optimization problems. ZDNet explores what quantum computers will and won't be able to do, and the challenges we still face.

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This month, our CIO Jury was asked, "Do you expect quantum computing to have a significant impact on your industry in the next five years?" Four out of six tech leaders, or 67%, said 'no', while two, or 33%, said 'yes'. 

SEE: Research: Quantum computing in the enterprise; key vendors, anticipated benefits, and impact (TechRepublic Premium)

Kent Blackwell, threat and vulnerability assessment manager at Schellman & Company, LLC, expects quantum to have an impact on his industry, particularly since it's already commercially available in the cloud. 

"Quantum computing promises to solve problems and drive simulations that have been computationally or physically intractable with conventional hardware, such as simulating the interactions of a novel pharmaceutical in vivo, creating secret messages that destroy themselves when read, or covertly monitoring remote systems without the need for an internet connection," Blackwell said. "This may all sound well and good, except for the fact that internet security is, for the most part, predicated on the following assumption: It is hard to factor large numbers into their prime components."

A 'yes' vote came from Fortinet CISO Phil Quade. "Quantum computers themselves will have little or no significant impact in the next five years. But the preparations for their eventuality are hugely important now", Quade said. "Here's why: Viable, operational quantum computers, that have both a sufficient number of qubit computational capability and a reliable, sustainable power and environmental infrastructures, are still several years away.  But even so, users of security products are already late-to-need in preparing for their eventuality, because of the time and complexity of replacing crypto algorithms. Quantum computers will render breakable an important type of encryption (called asymmetric cryptography) that is used worldwide to establish confidentiality keys and do integrity checks, on which our whole economy and society depends. We need to implement crypto agility now -- as part of a broader strategy that embraces security agility -- so that quantum-resistant algorithms can be quickly deployed in crypto-agile systems when those algorithms become available."

Quantum won't have a big impact on the banking industry, according to John Gracyalny, vice president of digital member services for Coast Central Credit Union.

"Banking tends to be very conservative in adopting new technology, one good example being blockchain, which is still in the 'talk about' stage," Gracyalny said. "And I don't think quantum computing will be ready to have a viable fintech product based on it for maybe 10 years. As with blockchain, one potential attraction of quantum computing is that it is supposedly unhackable.

"The sad reality is that the vast preponderance of banking-related data breaches that make the news are caused by the human element being careless, clueless, complacent, complicit, or coerced. And technology won't help you there," Gracyalny said.

Here are this month's CIO Jury participants: 

John Gracyalny, vice president of digital member services, Coast Central Credit Union
Randy Krzyston, senior manager, IT security and compliance, Brinks Home Security 
Phil Quade, CISO, Fortinet
Michael Hanken, vice president of IT, Multiquip
Cory Wilburn, CIO, Texas General Land Office
Kent Blackwell, threat and vulnerability assessment manager, Schellman & Company, LLC