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10 SMT Magazine • December 2014 column and we have published dozens of tech- nical articles on this subject in The PCB Maga- zine and SMT Magazine. The way I see it, my job is to help you pre- pare for what's coming in these columns and in the news and articles we post to our sites and run in our digital magazines. If you're pay- ing attention, at least somewhat, you will see the possibilities before most of your competi- tors do. There is real opportunity here for those companies led by managers who have their eyes open. Here are snippets from the Gartner press re- lease I mentioned earlier: For some time now, there has been an ongoing shift in the roles machines play in our everyday lives," said Daryl Plummer, vice president, Distin- guished Analyst and Gartner Fellow. "Compute- based machines are now being used to create an ever-expanding variety of experiences that extend human endeavors. Machines are taking on more human characteristics in order to affect a more per- sonalized relationship with human beings and we find ourselves contemplating a near-term future of a world in which machines and humans are co- workers, and possibly even co-dependents. How many of you have seen the movie "I, Robot" with Will Smith? Based on the famous collection of short stories by science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, it's a scary glimpse into our future. I'm sure most of you have heard of iRo- bot, the company building things like robotic vacuum cleaners, pool cleaners, robot-like video consoles for business and medical applications, and the remote systems used for the military to keep soldiers safe. Plummer's quote states the obvious, if you just look around. These same types of automated systems, devices and inter- actions (Siri? Watson?) are all around us now, and will explode into every conceivable market in the coming decade. The proliferation and in- tegration of robotics and automation into our lives is growing at an exponential rate. That's why we have to keep our eyes open: in the short term, it means lots of new business; in the mid term, it means struggling to keep up with the technological changes. And in the long term, it's a new paradigm. The timespan between short term and mid term should give those who are paying attention time to react. From mid- to long term will be the time when most compa- nies try to react to the sea-change, but it will likely be too late. Here are a few interesting "near-term flag" pieces from the Gartner press release, followed by my thoughts on each: • By 2018, the total cost of ownership for busi- ness operations will be reduced by 30% through smart machines and industrialized services. The first prediction is already happening big-time in our industry. We see more and more robotics companies exhibiting at shows. How- ever, I haven't run into companies offering "industrialized services," sort of EMS for EMS, I guess, yet. • By 2015, there will be more than 40 vendors with commercially available managed services of- ferings leveraging smart machines and industrial- ized services. Consumers' need to get faster, cheaper, bet- ter products and services in a mode that supports any time, any place and any channel is fueling the digital business revolution. Business processes and the entire value chain of business operations will shift from a labor-driven and technology-enabled paradigm to a digital-driven and human-enabled model. Smart machines will not replace humans as people still need to steer the ship and are criti- cal to interpreting digital outcomes. Thus, smart machines will not replace labor; rather they will displace the complacency, inefficiency and add tremendous velocity to business operations. With consumers' preference to use Internet and mobile services to drive business efficiencies and optimize THE wAY i SEE iT PredIcTIONS continues I, Robot, 20th Century Fox.

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