World Class Faculty & Research / February 22, 2022

Promise, Peril and a Role for Businesses

The race to quantum computing, rises in water dislocation and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) going mainstream may not seem like typical business concerns. But businesses will have an important role to play in managing these global trends, says Erik Peterson, partner and managing director at Kearney.

In the recent Distinguished Speakers in International Business Series (DSS) hosted by the Center for Global Business, Peterson discussed the expectations of businesses when it comes to managing these trends, drawing insights in part from Kearney’s the recently released Global Trends Report. The discussion was moderated by Kislaya Prasad, academic director for CGB and research professor in Maryland Smith’s department of decision, operations and information technologies.

“Many of the national and business priorities involve needing to balance short term goals, like managing the chip crisis, with long-term goals in Quantum computing and robotics,” said Peterson. “It is critical to have a workforce that is ready to work with this new technology.”

When discussing the shift in technology to Quantum computing, an advanced form of computation that exponentially increases computational ability, Peterson elaborated that the results of advances in this area are still unknown.

“While many companies like Microsoft and Google have invested in this race to the future, we don’t know if it matters who achieves quantum computational abilities first. However, we expect a breakthrough to happen sooner rather than later and whoever has capacity to leverage this will have remarkable abilities in the future.” 

In terms of global opportunities, Peterson warned that as a result of the rise in water related dislocations, there could be a tipping point that creates potential for conflict over water.

“As a result of the rise in water dislocations, businesses whose supply chains rely on water could be negatively impacted,” Peterson said. “There will likely be a lot of direct and indirect effects related to water dislocation.”

Along with the perilous nature of some global trends came promise in others, specifically in the development of CBDCs.

“Central banks are currently working on an integrated web network that creates a higher level of efficiency and stability,” Peterson said. “We will also need to take on the cybersecurity risks that come with managing this new form of digital currencies.”

For Maryland Smith students who are interested in helping to tackle some of these global trends, Peterson said, there will be opportunities.

“People are looking to companies more than the government for guidance in addressing these global trends,” he said. “Businesses are looking for a workforce that can assess the risks and tackle these trends head on.”

The next Center for Global Business DSS event will take place on Monday, March 7, with a conversation with the Trade Experettes.

The event was supported in part by CIBE, a Title VI grant administered by the U.S. Department of Education.

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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