by André M. König

As the leading analyst firm in quantum technology, we are privileged to learn a lot from and about many of the leading vendors, large and small, in our ecosystem. It is this trust that enables Global Quantum Intelligence to define industry frameworks, put reliable data against it and produce insightful analysis.

We’re immensely grateful to have been doing this since 2015, when our predecessor, the Quantum Computing Report, saw the light of day.

IBM, one of our longstanding clients, took this a step further and we hope that this trip account can serve as inspiration and reference for others to open up even more to trusted partners like GQI – the more we learn from each other, the stronger we are together.

On Jun 12, 2024 David Shaw, Doug Finke and myself stepped out of our rental car in awe of the natural beauty of the upstate NY IBM campus. If you haven’t had a chance to visit, especially in the fall when the leaves turn, this alone is reason enough to partner with IBM – a stunning setting and a historic building that has inspired technology innovation since 1961.

The Thomas J. Watson Research Center, designed by famed architect Eero Saarinen is a large crescent-shaped structure consisting of three levels with 40 aisles each, radiating out from the center of the circle described by the crescent. This provides direct access to sunlight and nature from all aisles and is meant to inspire collaboration and creativity.

Paridhi Verma and Mike Houston had been planning this meeting for the GQI team for a few weeks and they were awaiting us in the atrium. After getting settled – and fed – we immediately launched into the activities, starting with one of my personal favorites: a guided tour of the ever evolving IBM quantum computing facilities by Chris Lirakis.

Chris truly embodies IBM Quantum and his genuine excitement for quantum computing is felt in every word, and countless smiles, as he patiently explains every little detail that we could possibly ask about.

System Two, if you haven’t had a chance to see it in person yet, does look like the future. And being able to touch it and ask questions about it to one of the people who is responsible for its architecture is just a ton of fun. Needless to say that Chris shared a few surprises with us when it comes to the roadmap – truly a look into the future of computing.

IBM’s vision is to deliver quantum centric supercomputing and this is more than just a marketing statement.  

After the tour, a full day of working sessions was ahead of us, so at 9 am (or rather 15 min late since we kept interrogating Chris eagerly) we took our seats at the famous wooden conference table that Thomas J. Watson once sat at.

Our first session was about Quantum + AI.

For every session, IBM brought their respective team leaders to the table. Generally with a short update on their own activities, roadmaps and goals. However, every session rapidly disintegrated into a highly productive brainstorm discussing possibilities, benchmarks, and ideas.

This is what made it unique: it was not about IBM presenting to us or GQI showing off to the client. We both were here to learn from each other.

The second session of the day replicated this experience talking about quantum software and the Qiskit roadmap.

We then spent an hour reviewing other qubit modalities beyond superconducting and exchanging perspectives on what’s possible with each of them. 

At lunch, Jay Gambetta, who dreamed up and implemented the IBM Quantum project, and Jerry Chow joined the group and we had 2 hours of the most honest and inspiring conversations around quantum that you can imagine.

The afternoon was especially fun for me personally, as we tackled topics that I am most familiar with.

We discussed quantum business value with the delivery lead at IBM Quantum, the journey to quantum advantage and what algorithms are needed for it, as well as the cost of predicting nature – or, in other words, how to deliver real value to clients ASAP.

While the entire IBM team impresses us with their kindness and brainpower, the closing session at 4 pm was a special treat as we were joined by Matthias Steffen, IBM Fellow, Quantum Processor Technology and one of the original creators behind their qubits.

Like Chris in the morning, Matthias brings innate joy and light to the conversation when talking about quantum but this time around the most minute technical details of qubit performance and how to increase it.

If you’re into quantum – and at GQI we kinda are – then June 12th was a bit like Christmas and your birthday on the same day. A bunch of extremely ambitious, smart and kind folks trying to figure out how to usher in the new era of computing… and, just maybe, humanity.

We said our goodbye’s for the day around dinner and look forward to an even closer partnership with IBM.

Trust is deeply anchored in our GQI business model and every day we strive to earn yours; without it we cannot do our work and with it we can make it so much more impactful for everybody.


June 24, 2024