A Quantum Physics Approach to Successful Technology Leadership

How “spooky action at a distance” is transforming the business landscape.

I studied physics while completing my computer engineering degree, but my interest in quantum physics came from television, not a text book. I loved classic shows like Quantum Leap, and today I turn to science fiction such as Counterpart, Sense8 and Stranger Things for an admittedly non-scientific exploration of the topic.

In quantum physics, entanglement is when two particles, even particles light years away from each other, physically link. Einstein called it “spooky action at a distance,” and scientists later confirmed entanglement with a number of advanced experiments.

Pullquote share icon. Share

What if we could harness quantum entanglement to improve technology and IT leadership?

I see glimpses of quantum entanglement in Sense8. Even though they live in different countries and speak different languages, strangers mentally and emotionally connect. In Quantum Leap, Dr. Sam Beckett temporarily trades places with a historical figure to correct mistakes.

Counterpart centers around a parallel “Prime world” where your “other” self resides. And Stranger Things has a portal to an alternate dimension called the “Upside Down.”

I’ve spent decades developing software and hardware solutions, which got me wondering: What if we could harness quantum entanglement to improve technology and IT leadership? And what if we could apply the principles of quantum physics to link strategies and actions for teams around the world?

Finding inspiration

One of the most important roles of any leader is to communicate in a way that inspires global action. For IT leaders and CIOs tasked with delighting customers and driving business growth, such skills are no longer a nice to have – they’re essential.

Now imagine tapping into quantum entanglement – or spooky action at a distance – to enable global transformation and align synchronized actions, new technologies and agile strategies.

Let’s consider these five examples:

Information Security

Leaders in this space are responsible for not just global information security but also regulatory compliance.

Applying the principles of quantum physics, entanglement would look as follows: Every employee – at every level – would prepare for problems and evolving conditions by diligently tracking down new threats while patching systems and monitoring alerts.

System Reliability and Scalability 

Solutions in the cloud and data centers require 99.999 percent availability (or 5 minutes and 15 seconds of downtime per year) with full disaster recovery. In other words, the days of makeshift solutions (remember servers under your desk?) are over.

Pullquote share icon. Share

Tapping into spooky action at a distance, tech education would become a two-way street.

The private or public cloud automatically adds capacity in seconds while continually analyzing performance and fixing problems.

Technology Skill Development

Technology leaders constantly build, grow and acquire skills that align with the latest tech innovations. From big data analytics to the Internet of Things and blockchain, staying ahead of the latest trends is essential for business growth.

This applies to leaders’ teams as well.

Tapping into spooky action at a distance, tech education would become a two-way street. Not only do seasoned experts provide mentorship, digital natives (millennials and Gen Z, for example) would reverse mentor – and re-energize those in the top ranks.

This effectively becomes a force multiplier in both directions, delivering new ideas and products at the speeds required for a competitive edge in today’s marketplace.

Innovation

Here’s a reality for modern tech leaders: Business is technology, and technology is business.

The most effective teams are agile in their approach, leading to jointly created solutions. Artificial intelligence-driven analytics and machine learning produce lightning-fast results.

For example, UPS equips its chatbot with natural language recognition and human intuition for continuous learning in the delivery space.

But don’t just take my word for it. Gartner predicts that by 2022 at least 40 percent of new application development projects will include AI developers.

Transformation

To achieve real transformation, leaders must develop business-intimate operating models that align with technology for optimal growth.

With this in mind, global staffs should reflect such thought diversity. By utilizing a quantum physics approach to transformation, technology staffs would incorporate business-oriented principles, and business staffs would incorporate technology-oriented principles.

Pullquote share icon. Share

Leaders must develop business-intimate operating models that align with technology for optimal growth.

Digital twins

The term digital twin describes a digital representation of a real-world entity or system.

For example, UPS’s fleet of delivery trucks and planes produces a digital twin in the Global Smart Logistics Network, which creates and tracks a digital copy of every package.

UPS customers receive real-time email and text messages about their packages and follow their deliveries online. UPS ORION (On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation) optimizes the delivery route, and the DIAD (Delivery Information Acquisition Device) confirms the delivery.

Using the latest collaborative solutions, communications to millions of people happen in real time – almost a quantum entanglement effect.

Customers expect – and demand – services customized to their every need, at the exact time they need them. This means providing real-time UPS My Choice® alerts for packages, as well as the ability to redirect the delivery to a neighbor or different pick-up location.

Technology leadership is daunting, but it’s never been more exciting to play in this sandbox. And with a quantum physics approach, we can now create synergies that defy time and space.

It really is … spooky.

[Images: Mark Garlick/Science Photo Library/Getty]

Robin Hensley is Vice President of IT, Operations Technology, at UPS. In this role, she is responsible for industry-leading technologies that power the UPS Global Smart Logistics Network.

Click the RSS icon to subscribe to future articles by this author. RSS Feed