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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

Tim O'Reilly: Changing the World by Spreading the Knowledge of Innovators

(0) Comments | Posted May 29, 2015 | 11:03 AM

The combination of innovative technology and new business models underlie the most exciting developments coming out of start-ups and large organizations and the innovators creating these disruptions have influence that extends into the global economy.

Tim O'Reilly, founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media, runs conferences,...

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How Chief Digital Officers Transform Businesses

(1) Comments | Posted May 25, 2015 | 9:07 AM

Healthcare is undergoing a major transformation and IMS Health, a multi-billion supplier of health care and prescription data along with related services, is responding by putting Chief Digital Officer Richie Etwaru at the helm of a digital transformation effort that involves connecting health care strategy with...

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Connected Cars: Every Company Will Be a Software Company

(1) Comments | Posted May 15, 2015 | 9:21 AM

In 2011, Marc Andreessen declared that software is eating the world. Andreessen (Twitter: @pmarca) noted that the new generation of technology companies will expand their capabilities, establish a sustainable competitive advantage, and grow market share value by placing more emphasis on software innovation. Fast...

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What's Keeping Higher Education CIOs up at Night?

(1) Comments | Posted May 8, 2015 | 12:00 AM


CIOs are under pressure and their jobs are at risk. Nowhere is this truer than in higher education. Increasing costs, technology disruption, mounting student debt and competition for students have put the CIO in a pressure cooker. In this stressful environment, we surveyed leading CIOs in higher education to find out about their biggest concerns and see which trends may be sneaking up on them.

A number of other organizations have published top issues surveys this year, including Educause and Gartner, so we took a different cut, probing about emerging campus technologies and how the CIOs are allocating their resources. Are they worried about the Internet of Things? What is their involvement with disruptive forces like competency-based learning and online teaching?

Not surprisingly, one of the greatest CIO concerns is the specter of a network security breach. This fear, combined with the burgeoning demand for campus Wi-Fi and growing high bandwidth activities like video, has made upgrading campus IT infrastructure the highest strategic priority for CIOs. Improving mobile access and BYOD is the second most-mentioned priority.

What is surprising, especially as college campuses tend to lead in technology, is that only 19 percent of CIOs are planning for the Internet of Things (IoT) as a strategic priority. The majority of CIOs are handling the concept as part of their BYOD and regular network infrastructure planning. A sizable portion, 28 percent, will either address it in the future or feels it is not important enough to be on their radar screen.

Almost all schools surveyed now offer online courses, although only 17 percent have more than a quarter of their subjects available online. The IT staffs take an active role in online education and provide the online technology and often advise on the content creation. All but 16 percent of CIOs are involved in the online curriculum.


Competency-Based Learning and Network Analytics

Most of the CIOs are involved in the emerging field of competency-based education (CBE). The concept enables students to progress at their own paces, using technology to assess how far the student has progressed to subject mastery and directing them to supplemental content as needed. Almost all CIOs (97 percent) see the role for the flipped classroom growing. The flipped classroom model makes extensive outside-the-classroom use of video lectures, reserving class time for one-on-one assistance.

Higher education CIOs are well-attuned to the value of network analytics. The CIOs use analytics to manage the user network experience (67 percent), for network capacity planning (67 percent), and to provide insight into student success (33 percent). Several of the CIOs among those who have not yet tapped into network analytics commented that they plan to do more with analytics, in some cases during the coming year.

How Is The Role Of CIO Evolving In Higher Education?

Higher education CIOs see their role increasing on the business and strategy side, much more so than on the curriculum side. While fundraising is important to the schools, this is not an area that CIOs in general feel they can contribute. As more traditional IT functions are outsourced to the cloud, the role of CIO is transitioning to one of innovation leadership. As Paige Francis, CIO of Fairfield University put it, "My role is to make our school synonymous with innovation by fully embracing mobility, accessibility and security to continuously support our teaching and learning environment."

Higher Education CIO survey conducted by Extreme...

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Avoid the Bermuda Triangle of Marketing Leads

(0) Comments | Posted May 6, 2015 | 12:55 PM

When it comes to marketing, understanding the buyer's journey is critical for success, but guiding the lead journey can be just as important. Often leads get stuck in the sales funnel or completely lost. This is an important consideration where big marketing data can help.

There is...

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7 Ways to Build a Community Using Data-Driven Narratives

(0) Comments | Posted May 2, 2015 | 5:12 PM

Building an effective community of interest requires savvy, street smarts, a good story and data. Our recent episode of CXOTalk with Joe Trippi explored the relationship between storytelling and community, using data and analytics to understand the market and drive user engagement. Trippi pioneered the use...

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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

(5) 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

(1) 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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