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Quantum computers are not yet creating business value, but CIOs should nonetheless lose no time in getting involved. Supermarket aisles filled with fresh produce are probably not where you would expect to discover some of the first benefits of quantum computing. But Canadian grocery chain Save-On-Foods has become an unlikely pioneer, using quantum technology to improve the management of in-store logistics. In collaboration with quantum computing company D-Wave, Save-On-Foods is using a new type of computing, which is based on the downright weird behavior of matter at the quantum level. And it's already seeing promising results. The company's engineers approached D-Wave with a logistics problem that classical computers were incapable of solving. Within two months, the concept had translated into a hybrid quantum algorithm that was running in one of the supermarket stores, reducing the computing time for some tasks from 25 hours per week down to mere seconds. Save-On-Foods is now looking at expanding the technology to other stores and exploring new ways that quantum could help with other issues. "We now have the capability to run tests and simulations by adjusting variables and see the results, so we can optimize performance, which simply isn't feasible using traditional methods," a Save-On-Foods spokesperson tells ZDNet. "While the results are outstanding, the two most important things from this are that we were able to use quantum computing to attack our most complex problems across the organization, and can do it on an ongoing basis." The remarkable properties of quantum computing boil down to the behavior of qubits -- the quantum equivalent of classical bits that encode information for today's computers in strings of 0s and 1s. But contrary to bits, which can be represented by either 0 or 1, qubits can take on a state that is quantum-specific, in which they exist as 0 and 1 in parallel or superposition. Qubits, therefore, enable quantum algorithms to run various calculations at the same time, and at an exponential scale: the more qubits, the more variables can be explored, and all in parallel. Some of the largest problems, which would take classical computers tens of thousands of years to explore with single-state bits, could be harnessed by qubits in minutes. The challenge lies in building quantum computers that contain enough qubits for useful calculations to be carried out. Qubits are temperamental: they are error-prone, hard to control, and always on the verge of falling out of their quantum state. Typically, scientists have to encase quantum computers in extremely cold, large-scale refrigerators, just to make sure that qubits remain stable. That's impractical, to say the least. This is, in essence, why quantum computing is still in its infancy. Most quantum computers currently work with less than 100 qubits, and tech giants such as IBM and Google are racing to increase that number in order to build a meaningful quantum computer as early as possible. Recently, IBM ambitiously unveiled a roadmap to a million-qubit system and said that it expects a fault-tolerant quantum computer to be an achievable goal during the next ten years. Although it's early days for quantum computing, there is still plenty of interest from businesses willing to experiment with what could prove to be a significant development. "Multiple companies are conducting learning experiments to help quantum computing move from the experimentation phase to commercial use at scale," Ivan Ostojic, partner at consultant McKinsey, tells ZDNet. Certainly, tech companies are racing to be seen as early leaders. IBM's Q Network started running in 2016 to provide developers and industry professionals with access to the company's quantum processors, the latest of which, a 65-qubit device called Hummingbird, was released on the platform last month. Recently, US multinational Honeywell took its first steps on the quantum stage, making the company's trapped-ion quantum computer available to customers over the cloud. Rigetti Computing, which has been operating since 2017, is also providing cloud-based access to a 31-qubit quantum computer. Complete details are posted on OUR FORUM.