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About 140 attendees of the Daniels Pioneer Executive Summit in the Rockies were told to expect our world to only get more connected to the Internet.

“There’s a cultural shift in how we experience the world,” said Mike Soucie, product lead at Nest, creator of the Nest Learning Thermostat, Nest Energy Services and other products that minimize home energy consumption.

Soucie and other business leaders spoke at a lunch and learn Friday as part of the three-day Executive Summit Feb. 25–27 put on by the Daniels College of Business.

Lunch & Learn Panel

Soucie shared that when he leaves his home, he doesn’t turn off his lights, lock the doors or turn down the thermostat. His “intelligent” home takes care of these items for him, saving him time and money.

The co-founder of the smart home automation company, Revolv, admits that he’s an early adopter. But, he and the other panelists of the lunch-and-learn session on “The Future of Connectivity and the Internet of Things” agree that smart homes and cars becoming commonplace is a near-reality.

Colette Matthews is the global marketing director of Connectivity and the SMART Home at Whirlpool. She said Whirlpool already has five appliances that connect to smartphones and other smart devices on the market and will have eight by the end of 2016.

Founded in 1911, Whirlpool is an established company, but its mission is to remain relevant to the lives of consumers. Whirlpool is learning how the customer experience extends beyond the date of purchase.

“We’re having a deeper relationship with our customers,” she said. “That leads to a whole new set of opportunities and challenges.”

One such challenge is security. Mike Horn, vice president of Threat Response Products and Proofpoint, started his career as an ethical hacker, where he was paid by the US government to look for weaknesses in their systems. Now, he helps companies keep their data secure.

“All software is insecure,” Horn said. “And, the more connected the device is, the greater the threat of attack.”

Despite the security risks, Horn doesn’t think people will avoid technology, but only become more dependent on it.

“It’s an amazing time to be alive,” he said. Despite his affinity for innovation, he thinks some regulatory standards are needed to ensure companies can be held accountable.

Horn, Matthews and Soucie agreed that in the next three to five years, consumers will grow more reliant on internet applications and base their purchase decisions more on service of the product than the product itself.

William Russell (BA ’1988) has been coming to the Daniels Pioneer Executive Summit for 15 years. He flies in from Chicago for the event.

“It’s a great way to get out of our specific industries and hear about topics from other business experts,” Russell said.

The annual event offers attendees a chance to gain insights on current business topics, network with peers in a range of industries and ski with the University of Denver ski team. About 180 executive-level participants and Daniels faculty members take part in the invitation-only weekend, which culminates with the Race & Case awards reception. Race & Case is a signature Daniels program: a business ethics case competition and ski/snowboard challenge rolled into one.

Jennifer Nealson is chief marketing officer for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. She enjoys the chance to recharge and learn.

“I call this soul food and brain food.”

Learn more about the Daniels Pioneer Executive Summit in the Rockies at:

Photos from the event can be found here.