Nuclear physics and a quantum leap for technology

The possibilities are endless

d wave 512qubit processor

A 512-qubit processor used in D-Wave's quantum computers.

Credit: D-Wave Systems Inc.

One of my jobs as the Secretary of Technology & Chief Information Officer for Colorado is also to be an ambassador to tech companies that promote the technology landscape in our beautiful state. That’s the “Secretary of Technology” part of my title. And that is what prompted a recent trip to California as part of an economic development effort to meet with leaders at companies with headquarters in Silicon Valley but with a strong presence in Colorado like Intel, Google, HP, Salesforce, Accenture, Pivotal etc.

I was struck by the distinct cultures each company has built for itself. At the Google campus, the employee parking lot was not overflowing. Why? Because Google promotes a culture of biking to work or using mass transit. Most of their employees don’t use cars. Their workspace is open and lively, full of excited engineers and developers who are shaping our newest technologies. At Oracle, there was a distinct feeling of “serious business.” Their culture is much more stayed, focused on form and delivery, and internal innovation. One is not better than the other. But I marveled at the differences and the very clear way each defined its own culture. I was fascinated with the different shades of innovation each company is galvanizing. I look forward to meeting many more companies and how they are moving the technology needle to help with real world challenges.

And then there was our stop at Hewlett-Packard. When I heard HP engineers say, “We are part of the Intelligent Infrastructure Lab and the subtext that encapsulates our research is summarized by the catchphrase ‘electrons for compute, photons for communication, ions for storage at net zero energy’, ” it tickled the nuclear physicist in me. I have a degree in nuclear physics and seeing this union of technology and high science was inspiring. I am thrilled that these kinds of innovations all have a growing presence in Colorado.

As my plane took off from California and headed back to this beautiful state of ours, it occurred to me that we clearly are not far behind the Silicon Valley in terms of growing our own IT industry. We have an opportunity to inspire and create our unique culture -- one that may be equal parts Silicon Valley but with a large helping of inspiration from homegrown companies like Zayo, SendGrid and others.

It’s an exciting time of exploration, risk taking and problem solving with information technology. And from where I sit at this moment, flying 30,000 feet above the Rocky Mountains, the possibilities are endless.

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