29 Aug, 2017

Everything You Need To Know About Smart Machines


Digital transformation is driving the development of new, innovative tools that are being released on the market, which plays a large role in changing how business operates.

Here at Millennium Alliance, we know these tools will disrupt all the leading industries, so as a result, we aim to educate our clients so they can be prepared to integrate them into their business operations.

When it comes to smart machines, there is a lot of information that business professionals must know in order to stay ahead of what is driving next generation IT infrastructure.

According to experts, smart machines will be the most disruptive force in digital transformation.

“Gartner analyst Tom Austin believes we are finally in the “Smart Machine Age.” By 2021, Gartner predicts smart machine revenues will reach $29 billion and 30 percent of large companies will be using them. Gartner also believes tech involving smart machines will be “the most disruptive class of technologies” over the next decade.”

Smart machines are a subset of artificial intelligence that can teach themselves how to do things and perform tasks. These machines are moving toward digital, using artificial intelligence and machine learning to its full potential.

Artificial intelligence is what makes these machines appear intelligent and provides the framework for smart machines to function.

“The more advanced techniques move beyond traditional rule-based algorithms to create systems that understand, learn, predict, adapt and potentially operate autonomously. This is what makes smart machines appear ‘intelligent.’”  Gartner reports, predicting top technology trends for 2017. 

In order to fully grasp this concept, understanding what falls under the term smart machines is crucial because these tools can be found in a variety of industries.


Robotics is a type of engineering that is behind the design and operations of robot machines that can perform tasks without human aid. This is one tool under the umbrella of smart machines.

“Intelligence, then, is a core component of what makes a robot a robot and not a wind-up toy,” Kate Darling, a roboticist at the MIT Media Lab, agrees. “My definition of a robot, given that there is no very good universal definition, would probably be a physical machine that’s usually programmable by a computer that can execute tasks autonomously or automatically by itself,” she says. Wired reports.

To sum up how robotic technology works, first let’s discuss the different components that make up this machine.

  • Frame – The actual structure of the machine.
  • Control system – controls all aspects of the machine.
  • Manipulators – Enables the machine to interact with its environment.
  • Drivetrain – Robots can move from location to location using drivetrain, can be in the form of wheels or legs.

If you combine all of these components, you get an extremely intelligent machine capable of carrying out human tasks by being programmed to respond to different environments. According to Gartner, they must be able to:

  • Adapt their behavior based on experience (learning)
  • Not be totally dependent on instructions from people (learn on their own)
  • Be able to come up with unanticipated results

Learning on their own in a variety of different environments has set robots up to be vital tools in some leading industries. We have seen robots in the healthcare industry, retail, and even financial services.

Healthcare And Robots

Robots have been seen in different areas of the healthcare industry such as surgical care and doctors tasks. The evolution of healthcare involves robots in a major way and experts say it is only going to expand.

“Robots can support, assist and extend the service health workers are offering. In jobs with repetitive and monotonous functions, they might even obtain the capacity to completely replace humans.”  TMF reports.

Robots are seen in surgical care because they provide the precision, flexibility and detail focused manpower that assists doctors in order to make surgeries seamless and effective.

We have discussed da Vinci surgery in a previous blog post. If you have missed it, check it out here!

Robots In Finance

Financial services use robotics in order to carry out different operations. In fact, we even formed an entire blog post about this.

If you missed it, not to worry. Let’s recap!

Robo-advisory firms have become the future of banking. They simply use unique and sensitive algorithms that provide services such as financial advice and portfolio management.

These firms offer customers a personalized experience and bridge the divide between financial services and digital. Forbes agrees.

“Robotics has many applications in the financial services industry, where the combination of high transaction volumes and increased regulation places a premium on an organization’s ability to streamline operations and ensure appropriate levels of control,” Forbes reports.

How Is Retail Using Robots?

Yes, retail is also using robots in its services. For starters, robotics is being applied for in-store customer service. This is seen in a variety of stores who provide interactive tools that customers use in order to shop for a product in the store or to gain access to an employee quickly.

Lowes, for example, uses in store robotics to provide customers with “LoweBot”, a tool that works side by side with employees, helping locate products and assist with inventory monitoring. Seen to the right, taken from Lowes Innovation Labs.

This component has been proven to be successful in stores because it can monitor consumer’s shopping patterns which can further dictate the business decisions that the cooperation makes.

This bot is being called “the future of retail.”

(There are many more retailers using robots for services. For the full list, you can view it here.)

Cognitive Computing: A Powerful Component

Now that we have discussed the development of robotics, it is clear that technology is moving toward innovative tools that use self-learning techniques in order to carry out tasks.

Cognitive computing is among those tools that have been a disruptive force in the industry of smart machines.

“Cognitive computing is based on self-learning systems that use machine-learning techniques to perform specific, human-like tasks in an intelligent way.” Chatbots magazine reports.

Cognitive computing stays true to what smart machines consist of – a form of artificial intelligence that allows us to make sense of the data that is processed through systems. It runs through a large amount of data that would take humans an immense amount of time to do. It then finds and creates actionable data instead of raw data, which means businesses can use the information presented in real time.

This tool makes it easy for organizations to carry out operations because it gives data a purpose. With so much data being accumulated in the leading industries, using this tool makes the information found actually useful, therefore making systems excel.

“For example, by 2017, health data is expected to grow 99% (88% of it unstructured), insurance data by 94% (84% of it unstructured) and manufacturing data by 99% (82% of it unstructured),” IBM reports. 

A cognitive computing system must possess the following attributes in order to be effective. The following is taken from Chatbots Magainze:

  1. Adaptive: The system must reflect the ability to adapt (like a brain does) to any surrounding. It needs to be dynamic in data gathering and understanding goals and requirements.
  2. Interactive: The cognitive system must be able to interact easily with users so that users can define their needs comfortably. Similarly, it must also interact with other processors, devices, and Cloud services.
  3. Iterative & Stateful: This feature needs a careful application of the data quality and validation methodologies to ensure that the system is always provided with enough information and that the data sources it operates on delivering reliable and up-to-date input.
  4. Contextual: Ability to understand, identify, and extract contextual elements such as meaning, syntax, time, location, appropriate domain, regulations, user’s profile, process, task, and goal. It must draw on multiple sources of information, including both structured and unstructured digital information.

Benefits Of Cognitive Computing

Cognitive computing does a lot of the “heavy lifting” in an organization, such as monitoring data, as discussed above. It provides real-time computing for business, which puts professionals in the position to respond to problems immediately.

This innovative trend can also expose business patterns and insights in order to boost performance in all departments and improve the bottom line.

“The result is CMOs, CIOs, CTOs and CDOs working together to bridge gaps between teams and connect the data, tools and insights they use to improve decision-making, leverage employee expertise, gain a 360-degree customer view and implement faster data-to-execution business practices.” IBM reports. 

All in all, cognitive computing makes applications more intelligent, expanding knowledge and innovation among all players in leading industries.

Who Is Using Cognitive Computing?

Major industry players like IBM, Google and Microsoft have implemented cognitive computing into their operations.

IBM, for example, is one company who prides itself on the innovative artificial intelligence technology and invested $26 billion dollars into big data and analytics. IBM urges businesses to incorporate this trend into its business structure.

IBM Watson was created to create a deep content analysis for organizations using sophisticated software.

“While many competitors are investing in their own cognitive and Artificial Intelligence solutions, Watson is the only cognitive computing platform that’s made specifically to support a broad range of enterprise operations like the ones mentioned above.” IBM reports. 

Google has created DeepMind, which is a leading artificial intelligence platform developing programs in order to solve complex problems. This major enterprise is known for its in depth and advanced technology.

“In the past few years, Google has acquired a lot of AI and machine learning-related startups and rivals within the market, moving the space towards consolidation. The company has created a neural network that learns how to play video games in a fashion similar to that of humans.” Chatbots reports. 

Microsoft has developed cognitive services that enable users to build apps that are more intelligent than the basic structures. Microsoft incorporates unique features such as speech recognition and voice recognition.

How To Survive The Shifting Age Of Smart Machines

With smart machines emerging on the market, new trends are being implemented into industries, which causes disruption and creates a change among different sectors.

In order for enterprises to survive this shift of technology, it is important for them to remain reactive and open to change by first understanding the benefits that can come from these machines and how they operate.

Then, industry leaders can understand how these major advancements in technology can disrupt their industry.


The Millennium Alliance is thrilled to present the second 2017 edition of Digital Enterprise Transformation Assembly, put together by the industry, for the industry. Join us November 16-17, for a series of executive education roundtables, keynote presentations from speakers like Robin Bienfait, CEO of Emnovate, collaborative think tanks, educational workshops, and networking sessions will offer industry-specific topics and trends to ensure your company sustains its competitive advantage.

It is important for business leaders to stay up to date and informed about all the latest digital transformation trends, such as smart machines. As these machines continue to advance and possess human characteristics, the way businesses interact will change rapidly.

The best way to stay up to date on these technologies is to discuss the latest trends with like minded business professionals ranging from all leading industries, in order to fully grasp the capabilities that smart machines retain. With the explosion of big data, businesses are forced to integrate new technologies that will put them in a position to stay on top of secure information. This makes the role of IT leaders more important than ever.

Mobile, social, and cloud, are converging, which is forcing companies to integrate tools in order to stay above the competition. IT infrastructures are forced to be agiler than ever. Digital transformation is all around us, and smart machines are one aspect that is continuing to grow and affect industries.

As we move closer to 2018, prominent digital technology and business leaders from all the major private and public sectors are looking to CIOs to manage the explosion of information that has ignited digital enterprise.

Limited sponsorship opportunities are available. Download the Digital Enterprise Transformation Assembly Sponsorship Prospectus for more information >>

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