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Vala Afshar
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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

How to Build an Enterprise Software Startup

(0) Comments | Posted April 23, 2015 | 4:36 PM

Every entrepreneur knows that starting an enterprise software company is hard. Jason Lemkin, Managing Partner with Storm Ventures and founder of EchoSign (acquired by Adobe), shares his secrets for how to start and run a successful SaaS enterprise software company. Jason is...

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Top 100 Most Social K-12 Tech Leaders on Twitter 2015

(9) Comments | Posted April 21, 2015 | 11:21 AM


The stakes for educating our youth have never been higher. The next generation of citizens must be prepared for an ever-changing world, and a workplace where creativity, insight and collaborative skills are especially highly-valued. To adapt to these new realities of education, the best teachers are constantly exchanging ideas on new styles of learning to understand which ones are most successful. Social media provides an important means for educators to extend their personal learning networks beyond geographical boundaries.

To recognize the value and importance of social media in K-12 education, here is the first edition of the Top Social Tech Leaders in K-12 education. The ranking is determined by a combination of factors including number of followers, Twitter list memberships, tweet volume and content and other metrics as tallied by several social influence scoring providers. On average, these K-12 technology professionals are members of over 300 lists and have over 6,000 followers.

In order for schools to teach students about social media, it is important for faculty and administration to be not only familiar with it, but adept at it as well. The vital concepts of digital citizenship and digital footprint are best learned by putting them into practice. Susan Bearden, number six on this list, has found it extremely rewarding to help teachers use Twitter to extend classroom discussions about literature beyond the classroom.

"The discussions these kids have are incredible -- I was so impressed with what the kids had to say. They learned great lessons about using social media appropriately and the public nature of Twitter posts. I guarantee that none of these students will ever use Twitter without an awareness of the impact on their digital footprint ever again," says Susan regarding students using social media for their class projects.

I invite you to join me in congratulating these must-follow top social K-12 technology professionals. Leading by example, all 100 understand the enormous value of social collaboration in...

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How to Influence and Maintain a Culture of Innovation

(0) Comments | Posted April 16, 2015 | 12:24 PM

Innovation and the federal government are not words that we often hear together, but Bryan Sivak, who is the Chief Technology Officer for the Department of Health and Human Services in the United States Federal Government, is changing that. The bureaucracy and red tape that comes...

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6 Practices That Will Shape Retail Digital Transformation

(1) Comments | Posted April 12, 2015 | 3:43 PM

Digital transformation is one of the most important topics facing retail today. As one of the largest retail brands in the U.S., second only to Walmart, Kroger Co., a Fortune 25 company with over $100 billion in revenue, is two years into its digital journey. Kroger is making the transformation...

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15 Uses of Beacon Technology in Education

(4) Comments | Posted April 10, 2015 | 12:33 PM

Will Beacons transform education? Technology, especially mobile computing, is having a profound effect on education. According to a survey by the Software and Information Industry Association (SIAA), almost all students have ready access to a mobile device through BYOD, 1:1 computing or a shared device pool. Reliable student access to mobile devices has now opened the door to a new teaching technology: location-based computing using beacons. Brian Rellinger, CIO of Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU), took a look into the technology to see if it ultimately has the potential to transform education.

What Are Beacons?

Technically, beacons are devices that transmit signals that enable other devices like smartphones to determine their relative proximity. The smartphones run apps that deliver content to the users based on that proximity. Beacons go by various names including iBeacon (a registered trademark of Apple), Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), and Bluetooth Smart. The retail industry has been the first to pick up on beacon technology, specifically to deliver content to shoppers based on their location within a store. In general, strategically-placed beacons connect to smartphone apps and deliver custom location-based content.

Beacons of Education

As digital tools and online worlds have found permanent homes in the classroom, they have brought an unintended loss of connection between students and the physical world. As a result, the contextual learning that normally occurs when subject matter is related to real world situations has suffered. Jonathan Nalder, founder of JNXYZ Education, believes that beacons can play an important role in rejoining our digital tools back to the real world. "Beacons add a layer of local experience and interaction to connect us with the physical world", says Nalder.

The Clevedon School in the UK has deployed an excellent real-world application of beacons to enhance their students' educational experience. Lewis Smallwood, a student at the school, developed a handbook that uses beacon technology for delivering content. This helps new students become familiar with the school system in an interactive manner. The pupils access the content that is relevant to both their location and the time of day. To make it easier to deploy and update content, Lewis developed an online interface that the staff uses for associating resources to each of the beacons.

OWU is experimenting with three beacons from Radius Networks to explore uses in education. Setting up the beacons was quite easy. They are simply plugged into a computer or wall outlet and configured through a website. In operation, the beacons pass what are known as major and minor values to the mobile app. For initial testing, OWU used the free Beacon Hunt app to create a scavenger hunt. The major and minor beacon values indicate different campus locations to the app. This technology will eventually be incorporated into the OWU mobile app to provide new, enhanced services to students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Take a look at the SlideShare, 15 Uses of Beacons in Education, which includes, for example, creating augmented and extended classrooms, automatically taking attendance, enabling virtual athletic programs, and tracking student flow across campus. Let us know by Twitter if you believe beacons have the ability to transform education.

2015-04-10-1428673189-8217745-BeaconsSlide21.jpg

As you view the slides, you'll see links embedded into the content. Be sure to follow the links to explore the software involved, view more video examples, and find ways to implement beacons for education.

This post was co-authored by Brian A. Rellinger, CIO Ohio Wesleyan University, and Robert Nilsson, Director of Marketing, Extreme Networks, with contributions from David Soliday and Joe...

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6 Ways to Build for Digital Change

(0) Comments | Posted April 4, 2015 | 10:19 AM

30 years ago, Alan Trefler had the idea that it should be possible to enable organizations to do a better job of engaging with their clients by making it possible for business and IT to be able to interact differently. It was this inspiration that led Trefler to...

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8 CIO Leadership Lessons for Enterprise Success

(2) Comments | Posted March 26, 2015 | 9:13 AM

In the digital era, growing business needs for accelerated innovation aimed at improving company growth, operational inefficiencies and the customer experience, is rapidly changing the role of Information Technology (IT). Successful IT leaders must ensure functional relevancy by positioning IT as the driver of digital business transformation. Here to help...

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7 Data-Driven Ways to Improve the User Experience

(0) Comments | Posted March 22, 2015 | 2:45 PM

With four math and computer science degrees from MIT, including a PhD, under his belt, Chief Technology Officer of KAYAK, Giorgos Zacharia is a leading expert at applying the hot topics of data, analytics and machine learning to the real world of travel. As one of...

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5 Ways to Save the Soul of the Internet

(0) Comments | Posted March 18, 2015 | 10:18 AM

"Sharing makes us all smarter."
--David Weinberger

Five years before the dawn Facebook, The Cluetrain Manifesto was written by David Weinberger, Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, and Doc Searls to examine the impact of the Internet on marketing, and, more importantly, to defend the Web as a primarily...

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100 Business, Technology and Leadership Lessons [SLIDE DECK]

(1) Comments | Posted March 12, 2015 | 11:22 AM



On March 8, 2013, Michael Krigsman and I launched a weekly video series called CXO-Talk. The goal was to connect our network and share wisdom from the most innovative and thoughtful business leaders in the world. Guy Kawasaki joined us for the opening episode. Since then, CXO-Talk has set the standard for thought-provoking enterprise video content. No other enterprise analysis and discussion site possesses the depth of our video library. We have now completed over 100 episodes with extraordinary startup founders, Fortune 250 executives, including over 30 chief information officers (CIOs), chief marketing officers (CMOs) and chief digital officers (CDOs). We have spoken with the most well-known venture capitalists, world-renowned technology analysts from Gartner and IDC, bestselling authors, an Emmy award winner, a brigadier general, and an NBA team owner.

The SlideShare presentation above features 116 executives from our first 100 episodes. Our most accomplished and brilliant guests share their business, leadership and technology insights, each captured in a tweetable quote. The slides also each link to the blog summary of the interview and the full video conversation. You will find the Twitter handles for all of our guests. I strongly recommend that you connect with this extraordinary group of thought...

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IDG's Chief Content Officer: Separate Content Marketing From Marketing

(1) Comments | Posted March 7, 2015 | 8:23 AM

Since our first CXOTalk show launched in 2013 with Guy Kawasaki, I have interviewed 12 startup founders/CEOs, 15 Fortune 250 executives, 28 Chief Information Officers, 10 technology analysts including Group Vice Presidents from Gartner and IDC, seven venture capitalists, six bestselling authors, one Emmy award winner,...

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Gartner: Solving The Seller's Dilemma

(1) Comments | Posted February 25, 2015 | 8:39 PM

Technology has changed, the buyer and the buyer's journey has changed, the marketing funnel is no longer deterministic and all of this disruption is challenging chief technologists, sales leaders and marketing executives like never before. Sales and marketing are tasked with maintaining and growing the current business -- delivering shareholder...

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The Most Important Entrepreneurship Advice From a Serial Entrepreneur and Venture Capitalist

(0) Comments | Posted February 22, 2015 | 9:10 AM

"Leap and the net will appear." -- John Burroughs

Christopher Michel (Twitter: @chrismichel) is a writer, explorer, investor and a serial entrepreneur who has has started and also invested in a number of companies. Michel's three distinct careers have taught him many lessons on...

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Cincinnati Bengals Use Marketing and IT to Improve Customer Experience

(0) Comments | Posted February 18, 2015 | 7:46 PM

Data analytics is a topic on almost all top 10 lists of strategic technology trends for 2015, especially for driving business in today's digitalized world. Harvesting the full value of analytics requires knowing what data is important, finding a way to collect it, thoughtfully analyzing it, make rapid...

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How Large Companies Can Leverage Startups to Innovate

(0) Comments | Posted February 17, 2015 | 11:35 AM

What exactly is the definition of innovation and how can large companies leverage the ecosystem of startups to transform their organization? I recently had the opportunity to engage with three experts on startups and corporate innovation to wrestle with this very question. While the word "innovation" means different things to...

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NFL Super Bowl XLIX In-Stadium Fan Engagement Stats [INFOGRAPHIC]

(0) Comments | Posted February 13, 2015 | 7:52 AM



Infographic: 10 Super Bowl XLIX fan engagement insights provided by Purview application analytics.

You have to admit, the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIX was packed with galvanizing on-field action. As the action heated up, many of the fans in the stadium put away their mobile phones. This is not conjecture, but an example of how Wi-Fi analytics data collected during the game can be vital to businesses looking to engage fans via their smartphones during a major stadium event.

As fans used the stadium Wi-Fi during Super Bowl XLIX, Extreme Networks collected detailed analytics. The data paints a dynamic profile of network and application access, the types of phones and operating systems being used, the top social networks and response times. If you have a business whose success is dependent on interaction with fans in the stadium, this data can help you optimize your results in terms of target operating system, highest traffic social networks and how to time your service.

The results show that 25 percent of the in-stadium fans connected a mobile device to the stadium Wi-Fi during the Super Bowl. This represents an upward tick over last year, when 16 percent of Super Bowl XLVIII fans connected via Wi-Fi. Based on when the largest number of fans were active on the network, the first quarter and Halftime represented the best times to engage them with a special smartphone-based offer.

Wondering which smartphone operating systems and apps you need to support? According to the analytics, you can reach 82 percent of the fans simply by supporting one major operating system. In terms of social network usage, Facebook was accessed by the largest number of fans, followed by Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. If you want to specifically engage fans via social networks, the analytics show that Halftime is your best window of opportunity.

Judging by the high bandwidth that was consumed sending data to the cloud, there was a lot of picture-taking and uploading going on. Knowing this, a business would do well to consider running a photo contest to engage the budding stadium photographers. Network data provided by application analytics like Purview can be an enormous benefit to all businesses and organizations. Insight into how and when your customers are most active and available for engagement, as well their favorite apps and media is critical for tuning your marketing plan as well as maximizing customer satisfaction. While the Super Bowl occurs but once per year, every day is gameday when it comes to interacting with your customers, students or patients.


This post was co-authored by Mike Leibovitz, Bob Nilsson, and Jim MacLeod of Extreme...

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Accenture Digital: 7 Digital Business Transformation Lessons

(0) Comments | Posted February 5, 2015 | 10:56 AM

Digital transformation is changing the way we work and live, yet for many people the term digital transformation is still widely misunderstood. "As businesses transform by trying to understand how to deliver better products and services, digital steps in with the set of tools and techniques to get...

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Successful CIOs Must Be Resourceful

(0) Comments | Posted February 2, 2015 | 12:56 PM

The pressure for CIOs to drive organizational change is at its peak. CEOs, line-of-business senior management and business partners demand value creation that is measurable, sustainable, and scale-able, driving business results. Most importantly, customers are demanding business agility, proactive responsiveness, greater degree of personalization and intimacy, and use of technology...

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Salesforce.com Chief Strategy Officer: Companies Must Innovate Around The Customer

(0) Comments | Posted January 29, 2015 | 8:51 AM

What do you need to successfully build a long-lasting relationship with your customers? As the Chief Strategy Officer for Salesforce.com, the #1 most valuable cloud company in the world, Micheal Lazerow spends most of his time trying to answer this question. By spending time...

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The Multimodal CIO for the Digital Business Era

(0) Comments | Posted January 28, 2015 | 7:38 AM

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change. - Stephen Hawking

According to the 2015 State of the CIO report, there is a significant perception gap between business leaders and IT executives. Only 13% of business leaders perceive the CIO as a business partner. Even worse, 54%...

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