Dealing with data is becoming an important part of the job of most large companies. Within this area, tasks such as storing and managing data are now well-mastered, so that the key capability now becomes the analysis or leveraging of this data.
Hence Data Mining is becoming an increasingly important concern of most hi-tech companies. This trend is witnessed by the recent creation of the CDO (Chief Data Officer) title at Yahoo! (see here), which has been given to a former Data Mining researcher.
Another indication of this trend can be found in the educational domain: most computer science departments in the big US universities now offer courses in Data Mining or Machine Learning.
These terms are also now known to people remote from the scientific world.
So it seems that Machine Learning is no longer an obscure research field, and more and more a popular technological domain.