Quantum computing to disrupt industries by 2030

Business leaders expect quantum computing to play a significant role in their industries but only a third are engaging in relevant strategic planning, new research has found.


Produced in collaboration with the National Quantum Computing Centre (NQCC), EY’s Quantum Readiness Survey 2022

found 81 per cent of senior UK executives anticipating a major role for quantum computing by 2030.

Despite this, strategic planning for quantum computing is in early stages for most organisations, with a quarter appointing specialist leaders or setting up pilot teams.

Even though quantum computing is in its relative infancy, its transformative potential is recognised by 48 per cent of business leaders who think quantum will begin to transform industries as soon as 2025.

Furthermore, respondents were almost unanimous in their belief that quantum computing will create a moderate or high level of disruption of their own organisation, industry sector, and the broader UK economy in the next five years.

Different sectors of the economy have differing views on the timeline for quantum computing’s maturation. Executives in consumer products and retail are most optimistic, with 70 per cent believing quantum will play a significant role by 2025.

Meanwhile, 56 per cent of telecoms, media and entertainment, and technology (TMT) executives foresee the same impact in this timeframe. However, most respondents in health and life sciences companies think maturation is more likely to occur between 2026 and 2035.

In a statement, science minister George Freeman said: “The UK is at the forefront of a quantum computing revolution that will deliver exponential increases in computer processing power, opening up the possibility to solve problems that were previously unachievable.

“I am pleased to see from this report that business leaders across our economy recognise just how transformational quantum technology will be for the future of their industries, and the work that still needs to be done to get this technology where it needs to be.”

Strategic planning cycles for quantum are lagging, with most organisations expecting to start their quantum journeys in the next one to two years. Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) will start planning by 2024.

This will involve recruiting people to lead quantum computing efforts across the organisation. A quarter of the organisations surveyed have done this, but 71 per cent are hopeful of appointing a specialist quantum head in the next two years.

As well as hiring leaders, respondents are aiming to set up pilot teams to explore the potential of quantum for their business: over two-thirds (68 per cent) expect to have done this by 2024, but only 24 per cent have done so already.

Piers Clinton-Tarestad, Quantum Computing Leader EY UKI said: “This study reveals a disconnect between the pace at which industry leaders expect quantum to start significantly transforming businesses and their general preparedness for its impact.

“Maximising the potential of quantum technologies will require early planning to build responsive and adaptable organisational capabilities - which is a challenge because while the progress of quantum has accelerated it is not following a steady trajectory.

“Quantum readiness” is not so much a gap to be assessed as a road to be walked, with next steps being regularly revisited as the landscape evolves. Businesses that expect industry disruption within the next three or five years, therefore, need to act now.”

The survey found that the drivers for investment in quantum computing are varied and in development. Nearly half (47 per cent) of business leaders are anticipating the quantum computing plans of rivals and the competitive advantage such capability will give them.

Almost all respondents (97 per cent) believe that their competitors are currently engaging with quantum computing in some capacity.

In terms of use-cases, the most promising application for quantum computing foreseen by industry leaders is enhancing operations involving AI and machine learning. This was especially true of leaders within financial services, automotive and manufacturing.