Quantum computing - solving business problems beyond the limits of today's technology

Friday 3 March 2023 08:22 CET | Editor: Mirela Ciobanu | Interview

Manfred Rieck, Head of Quantum Tech Deutsche Bahn at DB Systel GmbH, delves into the exciting world of quantum computing and its significance on the executives' agenda.

Manfred shares more on why it's essential for companies to get quantum ready and how to do so at the European Identity and Cloud Conference (EIC) 2023. Don't miss this opportunity to expand your knowledge and network at the European Identity and Cloud Conference 2023, happening in Berlin from May 09 - 12, 2023. Register now for a chance to be part of this informative and engaging event!


Can you please explain what is quantum computing in a nutshell?

Quantum computing is a form of computing that utilises the principles of quantum mechanics to process information. It operates differently from classical computing in that it processes conditions 1 and 0 simultaneously, allowing for parallel processing of information. This enables quantum computing to solve problems that traditional computing cannot solve efficiently. To put it in simple terms, think of a labyrinth where all possible paths can be searched simultaneously, giving a faster and more efficient solution.


What has been your experience with quantum computing at DB Systel GmbH? What were the first use cases that you explored and what were some challenges that popped out while testing this new technology?

In my experience with quantum computing at Deutsche Bahn, I started exploring its potential in 2019 to see how it could be applied in a logistics organisation. The goal was to transform our software developers towards this new technology, which is quite different from classical software development. Our first use cases were focused on optimisation and disposition, where we aimed to optimise our assets such as rails, trains, employees, and energy. Additionally, we also explored the security landscape by implementing an anomaly detection use case on a quantum system through an R&D project within a consortium. The biggest challenge we faced initially was securing funding as the technology was in its infancy and investing in it was considered a high-risk with unknown results. However, with strong executive management support and a vision for possible outcomes for the enterprise, we were able to overcome this challenge.


If you are to draw a parallel with the financial industry, how can these explore quantum computing? What are the benefits this tech would bring to them and what stops them from implementing it?

The financial industry has a lot to gain from exploring quantum computing. To get started, it is important to secure funding and involve the board of directors. One of the potential applications in the financial industry is portfolio optimisation, which is already being explored by several enterprises. Some large banks are already conducting experiments to understand the benefits of quantum computing and gain a competitive advantage. However, organisations must also consider the security challenges posed by quantum computers, especially those with critical infrastructure. To mitigate these risks, it is important to investigate the effects of quantum systems on their public key infrastructure (PKI) solutions.


As we have learned that not only companies such as DB Systel GmbH and banks should get quantum computing ready, but governments and enterprises as well, what are some steps these have taken to get ready (funding, education, law/regulation, investing in startups, etc.)?

Governments, enterprises, and banks are taking steps to prepare for the arrival of quantum computing. One of the first steps is to build an understanding of the business problems that can be solved with these systems. To convince executive management to make an initial investment, organisations can start with a simple use case. Building alliances with research organisations can also be beneficial in getting ready for quantum computing. These steps show a proactive approach to incorporating quantum computing into their operations and ensuring they are prepared for its arrival.


Can you please stress the role of quantum computing in cybersecurity?

Quantum computing plays a significant role in cybersecurity. The increasing power of quantum systems has the potential to greatly impact our current infrastructure, including the use of cryptography. As quantum computers become larger, they will be able to break current asynchronous PKI encryptions using algorithms such as the Shor algorithm. Although it is uncertain when these systems will be widely available, experts estimate it to be within the next 5-10 years.

It is important to note that preparing current security solutions to become quantum ready will take at least 10 years for large organisations. If a large quantum computer becomes available before this preparation is complete, the confidentiality of secret data could be compromised, as it could be stored now and decrypted later.


What advice would you give to businesses across the world to get quantum-ready?

To prepare for the quantum age, I would advise businesses worldwide to start by acknowledging that quantum systems are already available. It's important to understand that quantum technology presents both risk and opportunity. Adopting a risk-taking attitude is crucial when dealing with such a complex technology.

Instead of focusing on the technology itself, it's crucial to consider the problems that need solving. To achieve this, businesses should bring together business experts and quantum experts, to translate business objectives into the language of quantum.

Overall, it's important to approach quantum readiness as a marathon, not a sprint. Start small and build incrementally to gain confidence and success.


About Manfred Rieck

Manfred Rieck set the course for Deutsche Bahn on quantum by founding a research group for quantum technologies. He sees the quantum computing ecosystem as the key to success. Mr. Rieck is the founder of the Federal Quantum Alliance, a member of the Governance Board of the European Quantum Industry Consortium QuIC, on the Board of Directors of Bitkom working group HPC & QC, and in the Research Committee for Quantum of Münchner Kreis.


About DB Systel GmbH

DB Systel GmbH, headquartered in Frankfurt am Main, is a wholly owned subsidiary of DB AG and a digital partner for all Group companies.

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Keywords: quantum computing, financial data, risk management, encryption, data
Categories: Banking & Fintech
Companies: DB Systel GmbH
Countries: Germany
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Banking & Fintech

DB Systel GmbH

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