This week, I had the pleasure of attending Internet Summit 2014The technology ecosystem of the Triangle was an entirely different landscape four years ago, when I first attended conference. I have seen the conference grow (to 2,200 people this year!) and adjust its offerings for the local and increasingly national community. 

Outside of the showcased talent, my favorite aspect of the Summit continues to be the breakout sessions available to attendees. This year, a notable roundtable session was on the Internet of Things and a 5-Year Outlook of Disruptive Tech in the industry, helmed by Rebecca Lieb of Altimeter Group, Blair Reeves of IBM Digital Analytics, Robert Richardson of TechTarget, and Michael Schinelli of Kenan-Flagler Business School. This panel of diverse leaders in the tech and marketing space hyped IoT as the next huge advancement in technology. 

The Internet of Things allows everyday devices to be interconnected through the Internet at large, using sensors and software provided by various existing platforms and business infrastructure. Lieb described a scenario as follows: “Imagine your next generation printers being shipped with sensors notifying manufacturers when printer ink is running low. By already having your contact information registered and having a partnership with Staples, your printer at home can notify you of discounts on your printer ink at your local Staples store before you even run out in the first place.” 

“The Internet of Things allows companies a unique opportunity in the future: having unique brand and product relationships directly with their end users,” said Richardson. This will directly impact tech marketing efforts of the future, as consumers can have new and varied experiences without even having to leave their homes. 

Data that is currently stuck in a “static” activity will become responsive and dynamic as the ecosystem of the Internet of Things develops in the coming years. Data from this new global ecosystem will power everything we own and use daily. Devices being interconnected is not a new concept. However, cross-platform compatibility will be the key to an open and functional future. 

As our very own Joe Procopio wrote earlier this year, standardization of the Internet of Things will be huge for the future and a crucial step towards making the ecosystem a lasting presence. 

Locally, the Internet of Things has also had a fair amount of traction, with a monthly meetup series now with nearly 300 members. Local fixture Scotty Moody recently launched a new Triangle-based startup focused on the Internet of Things called K4Connect, and several IoT companies demoed at the CED Tech Venture Conference in September. 

Yesterday’s keynote speaker Steve Wozniak wrapped up his comments with some warnings about the technology that will make IoT truly effective. Artificial intelligence—the ability to train computers to process information like humans—he says could turn us into household pets. He’s not the first high-profile leader to feel apprehensive about the future of AI. Also included are astrophysicist Steven Hawking and Tesla CEO Elon Muskwho recently called it “our biggest existential threat.”

The Internet of Things has the potential to change the shape of the technology ecosystem as we know it, that is clear.

The question is, will our robot overlords still serve us delicious coffee without us asking?