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Vala Afshar
Vala Afshar is the Chief Marketing Officer for Extreme Networks. Afshar is the author of The Pursuit of Social Business Excellence.

Entries by Vala Afshar

NBA Owner Vivek Ranadivé: Welcome to Civilization 3.0

(1) Comments | Posted November 23, 2014 | 12:30 AM

"A little bit of the right info, just a little beforehand, is more valuable than all the info in the world, 6 months after the fact." - @Vivek

What does a software-run businesses and a professional basketball team have in common? According to Vivek Ranadivé, CEO...

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The Next Business Frontier: Networks of Record

(0) Comments | Posted November 16, 2014 | 11:38 AM

Systems of Record, Systems of Engagement, and Networks of Record - so many systems that describe how we work, who we work with, and where we work, facilitating the interconnection of business processes, people and communities. Organizations have invested heavily in Systems of Record, like CRM or ERP, for the...

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Business Success Depends On Smart (Not Just Big) Data

(0) Comments | Posted November 11, 2014 | 9:09 AM

Companies are heavily investing in acquiring and developing talent, technology and business processes aimed at collecting and analyzing massive amounts of data, so that they can develop actionable business insights aimed at bolstering customer value. The key driver for digital business transformation is improving the ability to convert data to...

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Welcome to the Age of Context-Driven Sales and Marketing

(1) Comments | Posted November 9, 2014 | 2:00 PM

The next generation enterprise software for sales, services and marketing such as marketing automation or customer relationship management (CRM) solutions will deliver personalized and highly contextual intelligence to sales, marketing and services organizations. Context will lead to automated market, account and buyer segmentation profiles with automated sales opportunity scoring, marketing...

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10 Hottest Technologies in Higher Education

(2) Comments | Posted November 2, 2014 | 10:28 AM

The annual EDUCAUSE conference is where innovative higher education CIOs go to learn about new industry trends and compare notes on the latest breakthroughs. This year was no exception as 7,300 IT leaders from more than 50 countries gathered in Orlando along with 260 educational technology exhibitors. Discussions took place in session rooms, on the exhibition floor, after the keynotes, and throughout the hallways. These are the common threads that permeated those discussions; the ten hottest topics for CIOs in higher education.

1. Campus Wi-Fi
Wireless capacity is a passionate topic for two reasons. It is now universally understood that the quality of the student computing experience has become an important decision factor for students in selecting a college. The challenge is to provide Wi-Fi density and coverage to adequately accommodate the three or more devices, many of them streaming, that each student is bringing on campus. This burgeoning demand for Wi-Fi on campus is severely taxing the IT infrastructure. Residence hall Wi-Fi can get congested quickly, so wired access is often used to provide bandwidth relief for devices like gaming consoles. Many schools have started to charge an extra fee to charge uber users who consume more than 20GB per week. When it comes to guest Wi-Fi access, schools run the gamut of open-connection, charging for use, sponsored guest access, or a combination of these. Here are 50 incredible WiFi market trends and statistics that are truly staggering.

The Campus Computing Project's 2014 survey was revealed at the conference and reported that senior higher education IT officers identify "implementing/supporting mobile computing" as a top IT priority, yet only 17% rate mobile services at their institution as "excellent." One informal poll at the conference showed that about 30% of schools are in the process of migrating to the latest Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac.

Strategic CIOs in higher education are investing in WiFi infrastructure to improve the student, faculty and administration's overall campus experience.

2. The Importance Of Being Social


EDUCAUSE CIO panel - Sound Off: To Be or Not to Be "Social"; with Michael Berman, California State University - Channel Islands; Raechelle Clemmons, St. Norbert College; Jack Seuss, University of Maryland, and Melody Childs University of Alabama Hunstville,

Social media is a game changer for higher education CIOs. Social media is taking on a growing role at EDUCAUSE and throughout higher education. Here is a list of the top 50 social higher education CIOs on Twitter. There was more live tweeting this year than ever before. The social media feeds enabled attendees and even those unable to attend to have a virtual presence, absorbing content from across the conference. The social media feeds were captured on Storify: #EDU14 Daily Wrap-up day 2 and #EDU14 Daily Wrap-up day 1.

The session CIOs Sound Off: To Be or Not to Be "Social" provided a point-counterpoint discussion of the pros and cons of social media for university CIOs. The audience actively participated via Twitter (#EDU14socialcio, captured on Storify) and interactive poll questions, and provided crowd-sourced tips for more effective use of social media in higher education.

Educause in-session poll indicated the attendees are indeed active on social media

3. Digital Badges
Digital badges as validated indicators of specific competencies and their connection to competency-based education were heavily discussed at EDUCAUSE 2014. Just before the conference, EDUCAUSE published the 7 Things You Should Know About Badging For Professional Development. As another indicator of the growing significance of digital badges, 60% of the 1,900 people who participated in the Extreme Networks digital badge survey believe that badges will either entirely replace diplomas and course certificates, or be used in combination with them. I recently published a presentation about the use of digital badges to improve employee engagement.


Sondra Smith of EDUCAUSE talks about the use of digital badges for professional development.

4. Business Analytics
The use of analytics as a means to drive critical institutional outcomes has grown rapidly as the associated technology has improved. This year there were no less than seven panels and 26 sessions dealing with learning analytics, data-driven decision making, and predictive analytics at the EDUCAUSE conference. The session, Analytics That Inform: The University Challenge, articulated the different contexts for analytics in education. Two analogies were made: one with business intelligence, now a $15B market, and one with physician diagnostic tools. There is general agreement on the need to present student analytics in the form of a dashboard, for use by both administration and students. Such a dashboard can help improve student outcomes as well as improve student retention.

In addition to student analytics, another type of campus analytics relates to network infrastructure. Presenters from Fontys Hogescholen described how they use network analytics to track student activities across the campus and are able to correlate demographic data with behavior and even effect change.

5. Google Glass and Wearables
The session, Prepare to Wear! Exploring Wearable Technologies in the Learning Environment, generated phenomenal enthusiasm and discussions that carried well past the conference. Many of the 14 Google Glass Innovative Uses In Education that I wrote about with Brian Rellinger earlier this year were in evidence. It is clear that all types of wearable computers including Google Glass, fitness bands, clothing, fashion wearables, and the forthcoming Meta holographic eyewear will have a dramatic impact on higher education.

6. Drones
Drones are finding growing usage in education. Colgate University's poster session, Just Don't Call It a Drone, showed how to use hobbyist quadcopters and Arduino technology in student research programs to capture photography and other environmental observations. The project had amazing results for both learners and researchers. I predict there will be more sessions on this topic next year, as drones find many new uses within higher education (see my blog, 10 Uses of Drones in Higher Education [Slideshare]).

7. 3D Printing
As listed in the description of one of sessions on the topic, "the era of 3D printing has arrived." For those eager to enter this era, a number of sessions and exhibition demonstrations showed how to integrate 3D printing, and complementary 3D scanning, into the curriculum. Popularity of the printers is highest in art, design and engineering programs. Many schools are acquiring one high-end consumer-grade or low-end enterprise-grade 3D printer per department. Stay tuned as prices of consumer 3D printers are likely to be aggressively driven downward.

8. Digital Courseware
The two emerging aspects of digital courseware are Competency-Based Education (CBE) and Adaptive Learning. The concept behind Competency-Based Education (CBE) is to enable students to master skills and knowledge at their own pace, via multiple pathways that generally make better use of technology. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had a hand in elevating the topic this year with a $20M investment in next generation courseware related to adaptive learning and CBE. Last year, a similar grant gave a major boost to Integrated Planning and Advisory Services (IPAS).

CBE can help meet the needs of all students regardless of their learning abilities, and can lead to more efficient student outcomes. With CBE, students earn competency units rather than credit hours. So far, large community colleges have taken a leadership role in the field.

Adaptive learning, closely related to CBE, is an educational method that uses computers and electronic text books as interactive teaching devices. The presentation of educational material is dynamically adapted to students' learning needs, as indicated by their responses to questions and tasks as they progress.

A number of young CBE and adaptive learning technology vendors demonstrated their wares during EDUCAUSE 2014, including Flat World Education, eLumen (demo), Regent Education (presentation), Pathbrite, Public Agenda, CCKF, and Acrobatiq. Many of these vendors emphasize a mobile-first approach. The feedback from Salt Lake Community College and the University System of Georgia highlighted the need for integration with existing products, comprehensive dashboards, and a mechanism for social interaction. Schools in general are watching to see what kind of results adaptive learning generates.

9. Small Private Online Courses (SPOCs)
This is the year that Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) lost the limelight. The issue is the extremely low completion rates of students who sign up for MOOCs. A Gartner poster of the education hype cycle that was on display at EDUCAUSE marked MOOC as "obsolete before plateau". The Campus Survey 2014 noted that less than two-fifths of the survey respondents now agree that MOOCs offer a viable model for the effective delivery of online instruction, down from 53% in the fall of 2013.

Clayton Christensen did not mention "MOOC" even once during his opening keynote, though the best known MOOCs, EDx and Coursera, had often been considered as disruptive to higher education. It is now realized that MOOCs lack most of the markers for disruptive innovation; they do not target non-consumers and they lack a viable business model. On the other hand, the Christensen Institute does believe that competency-based education may prove to be disruptive.

Picking up where MOOCs left off is the concept of Small Private Online Courses (SPOCs). These were discussed at the one MOOC conference session. This session also discussed the future of MOOCs - for advanced placement courses, remedial classes, professional development, and to serve the community. More importantly, the technology infrastructure created by the MOOC providers like EDx, Kahn Academy and Coursera will very likely provide the platform for the full range of online courses into the future.

10. Virtual Reality
Immersive and augmented reality have the ability to completely re-invent education. When ready for general use, products like Oculus Rift and Magic Leap are capable of transporting the student to almost any learning environment imaginable. As with many emerging educational technologies, virtual reality has application both to higher education and K-12 education. At the ISTE K-12 conference earlier this year, there were no less than 14 sessions discussing how to apply VR in education. The technology enables students to travel with their professors to any virtual learning environment imaginable: far-off lands and planets, inside the atom, ancient civilizations, to the beginning of the universe. On a limited scale, some of these capabilities are already here. At the rate the technology is progressing, VR could be fully integrated into our teaching within five years.

The Disruption of Higher Education
The Disruption of Higher Education was perhaps the hottest topic before, during, and after EDUCAUSE. It was the subject of Clayton Christensen's keynote. Higher education is undeniably at a transition point. With student debt now over $1 trillion and economists like Robert Reich questioning the value of college, industry leaders are searching for a path to maintain higher education's relevancy. In his talk, Christensen asked the audience to "pray for Harvard", given the upheavals already underway in higher education.

Markers of disruption are already appearing in higher education, including new entrants and start-ups selling low feature-set products to previous non-consumers. Examples of this include not just online colleges, but more importantly corporate in-house academies like Perdue University (think chickens not boilermakers), General Assembly, GE Crotonville, and Intel University. A technological core is forming with video courseware, competency-based education and learning analytics, as well as new interactive collaborative capabilities that provide something approaching a classroom experience remotely. Modularity, another important marker of disruption, has emerged in the packaging of courses and the awarding of certificates of completion and digital badges. These aspects represent an overall trend toward the unbundling of higher education.

A college president had pointed out to Christensen that the most generous alumni at his university felt their lives had been dramatically changed by their college experiences. The lasting impact was due not to the course material, but rather to the motivating performance of a memorable professor; a different professor in each case. In response Christensen asks, are colleges taking this into account as they recruit faculty, or is recruiting based more on academic publishing history?

This post was co-authored by Robert Nilsson, Director of Marketing, Extreme...

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Data-Driven Marketing Drives Customer Advocacy

(2) Comments | Posted October 28, 2014 | 10:06 AM

Data are the foundation of marketing in a digital world. Digital transformation of business processes provides CMOs with the ability to measure results and business outcomes, providing the credibility and proof that's needed for marketing to become a strategic business function. Data-driven processes empower marketers with the necessary business and...

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Leadership Advice From A Farmer, Emergency Response MD, Harvard Professor And Top Healthcare CIO

(0) Comments | Posted October 25, 2014 | 3:02 PM

Only a renaissance man can manage a fully functioning farm, practice emergency response, teach at one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and also serve as CIO of one of the top hospital in the world. Dr. John Halamka's 20-year career as CIO of

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How Google Glass Will Transform Healthcare [Slideshare]

(0) Comments | Posted October 17, 2014 | 11:13 AM

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." - Henry David Thoreau

Whether or not by design, Google Glass is revolutionizing the healthcare world. As in fields like higher education, third-party application developers and users are embracing Glass to deliver highly empowering, meaningful Glassware with amazing results. Mark Taglietti, head of ICT delivery services and vendor management at London University College Hospitals says, "Google Glass represents a step change in technical innovation, wearable technology, and the convergence of personal devices in the workplace. The healthcare applications of Glass are wide-ranging, insightful and impactful, from enabling hands-free real-time access to clinical and patient information, to the transmission of point of view audio and video for surgical research and educational purposes. Glass marks the beginning of a truly remarkable journey for technical innovation within healthcare, enabling providers to improve the delivery of care, as well as overall quality and patient experience."

Here and in the accompanying slideshare are fifteen areas in which Google Glass is dramatically changing healthcare.

Virtual Dictation
Physicians typically spend hours each day on patient documentation and electronic health records (EHRs). Augmedix is a Glass application that provides a better way for doctors to enter and access important patient information in real-time without being tethered to a computer. Dignity Health uses Augmedix software and Glass to streamline the interaction between physicians and patients. Doctors can maintain patient eye contact while their conversations are securely recorded along with visual information. The software also makes it easy for doctors to access patient data and conduct searches using simple verbal requests.

The nature of telemedicine is to connect doctors to patients on-demand. The range of telemedicine scenarios is vast. Glass can provide synchronous video conversations with physicians at remote locations. Remotely-conducted procedures can be recorded and embedded in patient records for future reference. With Glass, physicians at rural hospitals can consult with specialists located anywhere in the world in real-time to provide world-class service to their patients. Telemedicine also plays a major role in streamlining care to hospice patients. Care providers can communicate with physicians remotely and proactively monitor patients whose EHRs can be transmitted in real-time. The seemingly high $1,500 price of Google Glass is significantly less than other types of hospital videoconferencing, which can run upwards of $40,000.

Resident Training
The Stanford University Medical Center Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery uses Google Glass in its resident training program. Surgeons at the medical center use glassware from CrowdOptics to train residents on surgical procedures. Fluid communication between surgeons and residents can be critical for improving the procedures. With the CrowdOptics software, surgeons can watch the progress of residents and provide visual feedback on their technique. This is truly like viewing a day in the life from the clinician's perspective.

Augmented Reality
Philips Healthcare uses Google Glass to overlay information directly into the clinician's field of view. The Philips IntelliVue solution allows doctors to monitor patients' vital signs during surgical procedures without ever having to take their eyes off the patient. Augmented reality gives doctors expedited access to the information they need in settings where they need it most. Live streaming of procedures can also be used with augmented reality applications for teaching.

EMS Communications
Google Glass can provide communications with a direct field of view for EMS ambulance staff and emergency department specialists performing triage and assessing acute strokes, heart attacks, and trauma in the field. MedEx Ambulance Service has partnered with Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago on a Google Glass implementation for their ambulance fleet. The use of Glass allows EMTs and paramedics to stream images and video from the field to awaiting emergency room physicians who can view the trauma before arrival. Advice, diagnosis and treatment options can be given to the paramedic team from doctors at the hospital who can provide advice, diagnosis and treatment options back to the EMTs. This is especially helpful for more difficult and less frequently-handled procedures.

Surgical Training
Glass can provide a you are there experience to walk students through surgical procedures. Dr. Paul Szotek, MD, of Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital has used Glass to live-stream hernia repair and abdominal wall reconstruction surgery to an audience of 600 physicians in Las Vegas during the Americans Hernia Society's annual conference. In his live stream, Dr. Szotek removed a rare type of midsection tumor from the patient as well. He was able to summon the patient's MRI and x-ray scans, hands-free, in the midst of the procedure. In the UK, my company, Extreme Networks, is helping one of the largest healthcare trusts use Glass to record surgeries for educational purposes.

Improved Rounds
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has developed custom Glassware that lets doctors scan a QR code on the wall of each room in the emergency department to instantly call up information about the patient. While the clinician examines the patient and performs procedures, Glass displays alerts, vital signs, lab results, and other data.

Improving The Patient Experience
Patient satisfaction as reported by patient surveys is now vital for all hospitals. With Google Glass, patients can get world-class care from the comfort of their homes. Specialists can be summoned remotely by doctors anywhere in the world to offer the best patient experience possible. These five hospitals across the country are pioneering the use of Google Glass in healthcare. The use of Google Glass will provide better-coordinated care and better outcomes with fewer office visits; all while reducing costs.

Procedure Analysis
That which is not measured cannot be improved. With hands-free, augmented point-of-view features, Google Glass enables clinicians to review emergency triage and operating procedures for training and self-assessment. This helps improve accuracy for future procedures as well as reduces the likelihood of mistakes. Glass-based recordings can also provide teaching tools for resident students and a means of compiling best practices for procedures.

Patient Communications
Communication between medical staff and patients is critical. For nurses, patient alarms and communications via Glass will allow a more natural workflow than is provided today with traditional wireless phones and pagers. Clinicians and patients can have uninterrupted communications during office visits. Follow-ups can consist of more efficient remote videoconferencing, rather than requiring onsite visits.

Improved Visibility
In the tight space of a surgical procedure, streaming perspectives via Glass from multiple angles will improve real-time visibility and provide recorded videos for future use. Doctors can broadcast their surgery in real-time to students located remotely in a campus conference room. This gives students much better visibility into the procedure, rather trying to view it from around a crowded operating table.

Telemedicine For Acute Patients
The cloud-based telemedicine platform Twiage is designed to accelerate care to heart attack and stroke patients. By using Glass, Twiage provides hospitals with a complete picture of incoming patients to help in managing resources like operating rooms and hospital beds. The innovative pilot project GRACE by Cronos Group shows how Glass can be used to assess acute patients and relay information to hospital ER teams. Quick access by specialists to the patient is critical in stroke cases. Glass can provide EMS teams with real-time neurological evaluations of stroke patients to improve decision-making and expand the therapeutic window for tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), an injection for patients suffering from a stroke due to blood clot. CrowdOptic and medical transportation provider ProTransport-1 are making this rapid access time and assessment of acute patients a reality with Google Glass.

Patient Care Instruction
Every patient is unique and seeks medical insight on widely different issues. Clinicians with Glass can improve medical records by logging what has been said to the patients and families during consultations. These recorded patient care instructions can eliminate any chance of the patient forgetting instruction or recalling it incorrectly. There will be no paper trail to lose sight of. California-based Kareo has created an app that offers Google Glass for patient care instruction.

Faster Access to Information
Hands-free access to patient records will allow clinicians to look up vital information without taking their attention away from the patient. Information from patients and doctors can be fed into patient records through Glass. Instead of loading EMRs on a tablet or laptop, the doctor can simply start a conversation with the patient, summon the EMR from Glass, and continue without missing a beat. Faster access to this information means more valuable time with the patient.

Google Glass can insure that the proper processes are followed and that communications are conducted in accordance with hospital policies and government regulations. HIPAA-compliant application developers like Pristine and CrowdOptics are making sure that streaming audio and video across the hospital network through Glass is in accordance with all regulations.

These stories and use cases of Google Glass adoption paint an amazing picture of how the technology is revolutionizing healthcare. Glass provides an open canvas for application developers to shape the future healthcare landscape, and Google Glass is but one of the emerging wearables transforming healthcare.

This post was co-authored by Bob Zemke, Healthcare Solutions Manager, Extreme...

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10 Uses of Drones in Higher Education [Slideshare]

(8) Comments | Posted October 15, 2014 | 9:30 AM

The commercial and private use of drones is soaring. The devices are capturing news video, assisting farmers, filming movies, delivering packages, surveying real estate, recording vacation travel logs, and providing disaster relief. Lux Research projects the market for commercial drones will reach $1.7B by 2025. Each year, $6.4 billion is being spent developing drone technology. As the Internet of Things continues to expand, drones of all sizes are taking their place among IoT devices feeding back torrents of data for analysis.

Along with the drones come new jobs. In the US alone, 70,000 new drone-related jobs are projected within the next three years; 100,000 new jobs are expected by 2025. In order to provide a trained workforce capable of meeting this demand, schools are already jumping in and offering drone programs and degrees.

Brian A. Rellinger, CIO Ohio Wesleyan University has been experimenting with drones on campus to see firsthand how they can used to enhance teaching, learning, research, and service to society. Some OWU students are already bringing drones on campus, further extending the bring your own device concept. I spoke with Brian about all the ways drones can be used for educational purposes. We compiled the list of Ten Uses of Drones in Higher Education below, which is presented in the accompanying slideshare.


Brian Rellinger (Twitter: @rellinb) learning to fly a drone on the campus of Ohio Wesleyan University

  1. Enable student projects exploring the intersection between art and technology and research, such as gathering data from sacred forests in Ethiopia, mapping lava flows in Ecuador, and surveying the forest canopy in Costa Rica.
  2. Loan drones to students for checkout and experimentation.
  3. Drones are used to capture unique footage of sporting events.
  4. Create promotional flybys of key campus buildings and features and virtual holiday greeting videos.
  5. Record footage of unique campus events, such as picnics or move-in weekend.
  6. Take unique photographs from hard to reach places.
  7. Facilitate inspections of buildings and monitor construction projects.
  8. Enhance field projects, such as studying wildlife from a distance, and detailed 3D archaeological mapping
  9. Monitor agricultural and environmental conditions
  10. Teach a course on designing and building drones

Drones are also finding their way into K-12 education. The Drones for Schools program is one such K-12 activity. The Greenon High School in Springfield, Ohio, has another program in which students use drone software and perform tasks like mapping out data from a natural disaster and creating a safe evacuation plan.

The cost of drones for educational use ranges from $500 to $3,000 depending on the features, battery life, camera quality, and accessories. They are small and easily transportable, and can fit in a ruggedized hard case for travel. It is possible to utilize open source software for real-time telemetry and to create 3D flight path files viewable with Google Earth, expanding the possible research uses.

Like many new, leading edge technologies, drones come with some concerns. It is important to plan appropriately to achieve a positive outcome. Privacy, policy and the negative connotation of the word drone, are all issues to be considered. Many users of the devices for commercial purposes prefer to call them by other names, including flybot, copter, UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), RPA (remotely piloted aircraft), UAS (unmanned aircraft system), unmanned aircraft, or just robot. Understanding the concerns and setting clear objectives are key to successfully using drones on your campus.

On the policy front, the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), a leading community-based organization, has provided guidelines. The AMA, established in 1936, 22 years prior to the founding of the FAA, is petitioning the FAA for a reasonable approach to addressing drone usage. In the meantime, the FAA has issued an interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft which may seriously impact the use of small drones by institutions and the general public.

Dr. Coye Cheshire, associate dean and associate professor at University of California Berkeley, who led a drone lab experiment in 2013 found that, "Our students emphasized the fun, creative, social and playful side of autonomous flying devices. They developed ways to navigate the devices by voice commands, to 'air dance' to music, and other creative applications that become possible when you put a bunch of sensors on a quad-copter and tinker with it."

Ohio Wesleyan University senior Andrew Wallace, who purchased his own drone, states, "I think the possibilities are endless. From a marketing standpoint, drones offer a way to see the entire campus in a different way. You can capture almost any outdoor event in a less intrusive manner and in a way that people really get excited about."

In addition to co-author Brian Rellinger, the following people contributed to this post:

The topic of drones in higher education is just beginning to emerge; we would love to hear more ideas on ways drones can be used in higher education. Tweet us at @rellinb, @hamcio, @mzyw, @raidercio, @RHnilsson, @ValaAfshar if you have additional...

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How to Transform from a Digital Laggard to a Digital Leader

(2) Comments | Posted October 12, 2014 | 1:36 PM

These days it is clear to see that the value of data is priceless. The explosion of mobile, social, cloud computing, apps and data has led to unprecedented levels of business process complexity, requiring digital savvy leaders to be informed and adaptable to a new set of consumer research and...

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6 Customer Experience Lessons From a Digital Business Pioneer

(0) Comments | Posted October 4, 2014 | 1:40 PM

The New England Patriots may be known for their history of winning, but they also have a long history of technology innovation, which started in 1995 when they became the first sports team in the world to have a website. Functioning as the Publisher and Vice President of...

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100 Inspirational Business and Leadership Quotes

(1) Comments | Posted October 1, 2014 | 9:55 AM

Some of the very best business executives, startup founders, venture capitalists, management thought leaders, and bestselling authors regularly share words of wisdom on Twitter. Here are a 100 inspirational business leadership quotes for you to enjoy and share on Twitter:

  1. Having a great idea is important. But having...
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Building the University of the Future

(1) Comments | Posted September 26, 2014 | 1:32 PM

"Higher education is now ground zero for disruption," said Todd Hixon in a Forbes column, questioning the value, cost, and the antiquated business model of higher education. That said, there are a number of brilliant CIOs in higher education who are actively leading digital business transformation projects, aimed...

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Social Media Is A Game Changer For CIOs

(0) Comments | Posted September 25, 2014 | 2:50 PM

Within the past few weeks the ALS Association, a national non-profit organization fighting Lou Gehrig's disease, has successfully raised $115 million with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, an unprecedented social media phenomena. There is still no end in sight as the total increases daily. Naysayers wonder...

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A Solution To The Massively Disengaged Workforce [Slide Deck]

(1) Comments | Posted September 23, 2014 | 1:46 PM

Several disturbing statistics are plaguing the work force. Worldwide, 200 million people are unemployed; the unemployment rate in the US alone is 6.1%, yet 4.7 million unfilled job openings seek qualified candidates. Even worse, Gallup Worldwide finds that only 13% of those employed are actively engaged at work. Now, help may be on the way - according to an Extreme Networks survey, the rapidly-growing concept of digital badges can addressing some of these challenges.

The use of badges for certification, reward, and motivation is not new, but digital technology is taking badges to a new level, and causing some disruption along the way. Thanks to funding from the MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla's Open Badge Infrastructure is providing a technological core for badges, the key ingredient for market disruption as described in Clayton Christensen's "Innovator's Dilemma". As digital badges become established, they will start to displace traditional college transcripts and diplomas, and may enable the long-term restructuring of education.

What exactly is a digital badge?

According to the MacArthur Foundation, badges are "validated indicators of accomplishment, skill, quality or interest." Employers can click through badges to view detailed levels of evidence and explanation, including documents, assessment results, hyperlinks, and video. The Chronicle of Higher Education believes that badges can "act as a transcript, CV, and work portfolio all rolled together into a cool digital package. Even beyond that, badges can structure the process of education itself. Compared with the new open badge systems, the standard college transcript looks like a sad and archaic thing."

Figure 1: Example of a digital badge for MOOC course on wireless technology.

To understand more about the adoption of digital badges both in academia and industry, Extreme Networks conducted a worldwide survey and received over 1900 responses. According to the survey:

  • Digital badges offer two primary benefits: motivation (45%) and recognition of knowledge/skills (43%)
  • While only 38% of those surveyed currently use or plan to use badges, 81% of those who are using badges plan to maintain or increase their badge usage.
  • Of those with no current plans to use badges, the issue is either a lack of resources (44%) or lack of understanding of badges (34%).
  • Most of the respondents (59%) believe badges would have a positive impact on their organization, if they had the ability implement them.
  • Among all respondents, 65% believe the popularity and usage of badges will grow in the future.
  • 61% of those surveyed believe that digital badges will someday replace, or be combined with, college diplomas.
Digital badges are poised to play an important role in an emerging trend in higher education, known as unbundling. Today, universities bundle an extremely diverse array of services into their product. As Michael Staton describes in The Degree Is Doomed, the bundled university product includes courses, academic research, credentials, housing, food, athletic programs, job placement, extracurricular, the arts, study abroad, social life, even rock-climbing walls and European-style bistros. As unbundling occurs, the traditional credentials, including transcripts and degrees, will start to lose relevance. Digital badges give employers easy access to specific and current information pertaining to a candidate's experience and potential. For now, the most popular use of digital badges is to recognize professional development and internal training (70%).

What's holding badges back?

According to the survey, the biggest drawback to digital badges is the lack of wide-spread awareness. Badges are only beginning to get beyond their association with games and marketing. 46% of respondents believe that digital badges are not yet widely recognized and 38% say badges are not yet taken seriously. A sizable portion of badge users (43%) have invested their own resources to implement their badge programs, rather than use a commercially available platform. The top three ways that the concept of digital badges can be improved are: better industry and market recognition and acceptance of specific badges (67%), standardized requirements of criteria for similar achievements (55%), and lower cost systems to implement badges (37%).

One way to position badges away from games and marketing is to give the concept a different name. At UC Davis, for example, the achievements are called "skill qualifications" (SQs) to give them more career relevance and to set them apart from game-oriented achievements.

Today, over 14,000 independent organizations are issuing badges and, based on our survey, this will continue to grow rapidly. The MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with the Badge Alliance, have announced the Commitment to Action, a program to use open badges to improve the futures of 10 million students and workers. Here are many of the examples we found of digital badges being used today both in education and across industries. Schools like Carnegie Mellon, MITx and edX, Kahn Academy, Purdue University, Seton Hall, and Yale are all pioneering the use of badges in higher education.

Figure 2: Example of how Extreme Networks uses Chatter to recognize badge awards to employees.

Extreme Networks is a strong believer in the benefits of digital badges. We use the badging system,, to recognize and reward sales development activity. Andrew Bolton, who manages the sales development team, says, "In addition to motivation, badging has helped create and promote a virtual team atmosphere, as everyone on the team tends to comment on or like the badge awards in Salesforce Chatter for our entire sales organization to see."

How to get started with digital badges

If you would like to see how digital badges can help engage employees, recognize professional development or reward achievement here are some steps to follow. First make sure your IT infrastructure is rock solid. To award, view, and share badges, the network and servers in your IT resources must be responsive and always available. There is nothing worse than receiving a badge, but not being able to access or share it.

Appoint a badge leader who will set the types of badges and requirements, the badge infrastructure, and the plan for publicizing each badge achievement. Here are examples of badge platforms: Mozilla OpenBadges, Basno,, Credly, Pearson Acclaim, Achievery, and For All Badges.

Try it out with a small pilot to get the bugs out. Let everyone know what badges they are eligible for and roll out the program. Be sure to give wide visibility to each badge achievement and encourage sharing through social media. Remember that building a culture of collaboration and continual learning is most important. Digital badges can help reinforce a strong culture, but by themselves cannot create it.

This post was co-authored by Robert Nilsson, Director of Marketing, Extreme...

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Reinvent Your Business Model or Die

(2) Comments | Posted September 21, 2014 | 11:03 AM

'Change almost never fails because it's too early. It almost always fails because it's too late.' - Seth Godin

One of the key components of transformation and innovation is the business model, and since the ability of companies to transform and reinvent themselves is crucial to their lifeline, I...

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Why Can't Business Applications be as Beautiful as Consumer Software?

(0) Comments | Posted September 15, 2014 | 11:55 AM

Historically, consumer software and enterprise software was a classic case of beauty and the beast, that is until Infor, one of the largest software companies, came along with the mission to differentiate itself in the marketplace by creating business software that is, dare they say, beautiful.


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5 Must-Have IT Skills For The Future of Work

(1) Comments | Posted September 14, 2014 | 11:43 AM

The fact that data has the power to change our business and personal lives has put data science and analytics at the center of how marketing is done. Every digital click, swipe, "like", buy, comment and search produces a unique virtual identity - something that Malcom Frank, EVP...

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8 Entrepreneurship Lessons From a Venture Capitalist

(5) Comments | Posted September 13, 2014 | 1:15 PM

As a venture capitalist with DFJ, lecturer at Stanford and self-proclaimed long time recovering entrepreneur, Heidi Roizen, who was born and raised in Silicon Valley, could teach us a thing or two about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. She hit the...

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10 Reasons To Use Open Source Software Defined Networking [Slideshare]

(0) Comments | Posted September 4, 2014 | 1:49 PM

Open source software (OSS) now has a permanent role in the enterprise IT world. Gartner forecasts that open-source technology will be included in 85% of all commercial software packages by 2015 and 95% of mainstream IT organizations will leverage some element of OSS. One of the fastest growing segments within open software is Software Defined Networking (SDN), which simplifies IT network configuration and management by decoupling control from the physical network infrastructure. The SDN market is projected to surge from $360M to $3.52B in 2018.

To understand more about open source SDN and why it is growing so quickly, I spoke with Neela Jacques, executive director of OpenDaylight. Neela works closely with the developer and user communities to advance SDN and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV). The range of software companies participating in OpenDaylight account for 95% of the entire SDN market. Neela and I took a look at the data on OSS and consolidated all the reasons that people use open source software for SDN into a top ten list.

Neela Jacques (Twitter: @NeelaJacques), executive director, OpenDaylight

An important source of data on OSS usage is the Future of Open Source survey by Michael J. Skok, partner at North Bridge Venture Partners. Michael is a strong proponent of OSS and shared his views on the CXOtalk panel at CIO Magazine's CIO Perspectives event in Boston. His annual survey provides a view into the current state of the open source industry and an analysis of future trends. This year, 1240 people representing vendors and users from a cross-section of industries completed the survey.

According to the survey, the number one reason companies choose open source software is quality. In fact, eight out of ten users of OSS made their decision based on quality. The more eyes on the source, the higher the quality, and today over 10 million people are contributing to OSS. This also has an impact on security; users now view open software as more secure than proprietary software.

Here are the top 10 reasons to use open source SDN.

1. Better Quality Code. 80% of open software users chose to do so based on quality. Removing company boundaries and allowing any developer to participate, debate, compromise and inspire each other is why code written in open source communities is of higher quality and doesn't degrade in quality over time. (Note: Debate and challenges are overcome by using code. Leave badges at the door.) Linux is now the benchmark for code quality; open source software quality outpaced proprietary code for the first time in 2013 - Coverity Report 2013

2. Rapid Innovation. Imagine being able to roll out services and products without worrying about the network. Having more control of your network via open SDN means you can innovate independently of hardware and software. Your ability to build new products or services increases dramatically to focus on what matters most. Companies get involved in collaborative software development to advance business objectives and to benefit from industry innovation. 91% of business managers and executives surveyed ruled collaborative software development from somewhat to very important to their business. Nearly 50% of business managers said they got involved in collaborative development because it allows them to innovate or help transform their industry - Linux Foundation Collaborative Trends Report 2014

3. Security. Although security may have once been viewed as a weakness for open software, it certainly is not today. In the 2014 Future of Open Source - 8th Annual Survey, 72% said they specifically chose open source because of security. This has to do with the transparency of open source as well as the scrutiny it receives from all its users.

4. Community. Open source has the power to build communities of people who believe in the technologies and are passionate about seeing them come to light. The many are smarter than the few--anyone can participate regardless of affiliation, adding to the collective brain trust to overcome an industry's toughest challenges together. It not only makes individuals smarter, but also companies who benefit from a much larger R&D effort. 50% of corporations contribute to open source, and 56% say that they will increase their contributions this year. Individual developers and businesses both benefit from the trend toward collaboration. 83% of software developers said they benefitted personally from collaborative development through exposure to new tools and development practices. More than 77% of business managers said collaborative development practices have benefited their organizations through a shorter product development cycle/faster time to market. - Linux Foundation Collaborative Trends Report 2014

5. Freedom. You are not beholden to any one vendor's roadmap, vision or timeline. If you need to change a feature, migrate or roll out new services, you can do that by participating in the open source community and being part of the change. The ability to access source code, add features, and fix code yourself is the number four reason users choose to use open software. 95% want open source in their SDN and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) solutions. It represents to them greater choice, more functionality and interoperability, and lower costs. - OpenDaylight Survey 2014

6. Adaptability. While 63% of technology startups fail within 4 years, open source is not tied to any one individual vendor. Over 1,000 companies have contributed to Linux. The open source development model allows software to adapt quickly to changing times. Legacy and emerging protocols can be implemented if so desired. Open source SDN can evolve as the industry does.

7. Choice. There is no silver bullet in networking. A variety of solutions are used to solve different needs. With open SDN, users can pick what works for them versus the one-size-fits-all approach of proprietary software. Today there are over 1 million open source projects with over 100 billion lines of code with 10 million people contributing.

8. Interoperability. Most businesses use solutions from more than one vendor to fill their needs. A common, open source platform means solutions can be interoperable and you can choose the right solution versus getting locked-in to a single solution that doesn't meet all of your needs. Choose the right solution versus getting locked-in to a single solution.

9. De-Facto Standards. Open source dovetails nicely with standards efforts. By speeding software development cycles, open source solutions become de facto standards that dovetail nicely with standards efforts. Over 100 additional companies join the Linux effort each year.

10. Maximize Return on Spend. It not only costs less up front, but it's easier to scale over time versus a proprietary system that adds more cost and complexity as it grows. Avoid costly vendor lock-in. The 2014 Future of Open Source found this can be a top reason for moving to open source software. According the survey, 68% find that open source helps improve efficiency and lower costs.

My own company, Extreme Networks, firmly believes in the benefits of open source and has committed to OpenDaylight as the platform to enable and drive SDN. To further encourage innovation on the OpenDaylight SDN platform, together with US Ignite we have launched the SDN Innovation Challenge, which will award prizes for SDN applications that make a difference in the areas of education, public safety, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, transportation, e-government, the Internet of Things, and clean energy.

For more on the topic of open source software, see my discussion with Brian Stevens: Red Hat CTO: 5 Business Benefits of Open Source Software. In this interview, Brian describes how CIOs can improve openness, collaboration and innovation with...

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