If you pay even a little attention to technology news, you've undoubtedly heard about the amazing potential of quantum computers, which exploit the unusual physics of the smallest particles in the universe. While many have heard the buzz surrounding quantum computing, most don't understand that you can't actually buy a quantum computer today, and the ones that do exist can't yet do more than your average laptop.

Don't let that discourage you from digging deeper into the promising field. If your organization uses advanced scientific or mathematical models, the time to start building your quantum computing capabilities may be now.

Why now? Because quantum computers that are powerful enough to shake up some of the world's largest industries will begin to hit the market in just three to five years. And it will take you at least that long to build the expertise required to take advantage of them for your own business benefit.

The key to understanding quantum computers is that they are nothing like the computers we have now. Conventional computers are linear and deterministic. Double the number of transistors or bytes of memory, and you should expect to double the computing power. They represent data as distinct numbers and execute programs step-by-step. Quantum computers are parallel and probabilistic. Add a single quantum bit to the system and its power generally doubles. Information is represented as the odds that something might be true, and quantum algorithms can evaluate myriad potential scenarios at the same time.

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