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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

Formula 1 CIO: 11 Ways to Build a High Performance IT Organization

(0) Comments | Posted July 27, 2015 | 6:39 PM


Anybody can make a quick car for half a race. You've got to get to the end. - Fernando Alonso, F1 Driver

In Formula 1 racing the difference between a champion and a second place finish can be a matter of seconds of...

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Venture Capitalist: The Two Most Important SaaS Startup Metrics

(0) Comments | Posted July 22, 2015 | 3:45 PM

Jason Lemkin, Managing Director of Storm Ventures, is one of the world's most popular and respected startup advisors. Lemkin's site and companion blog on Quora ( has more than 10 million views, generating more than 1 million views per month around core Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) topics with a...

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The Art of Storytelling - 7 Lessons From Cartoonist Liza Donnelly

(0) Comments | Posted July 19, 2015 | 11:32 AM

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. ― Maya Angelou


Liza Donnelly is a cartoonist and writer with The New Yorker Magazine, where she has been drawing cartoons about culture and politics for over thirty...

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The Future of Work and Importance of Digital Proficiency

(1) Comments | Posted July 14, 2015 | 1:25 PM

The future of work is going to be the ability to make decisions on what to do, and what not to do, based on near real-time ubiquitous access to relevant and actionable information. The future of work will require a lot more intelligence built into our software tools.


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IBM Systems CMO: 10 Ways For Marketing To Deliver Business Value

(0) Comments | Posted July 12, 2015 | 11:29 AM

Doug Brown, is Chief Marketing Officer for the IBM Systems Group, part of IBM Systems and Technology, which generates annual revenue of $20 billion. IBM Systems group serves IT infrastructure executives - Head of Operations/IT, Chief Technology Officers, Chief Information Officers, or application development...

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Big Companies Can Avoid Disruption by Partnering With Startup Accelerators

(1) Comments | Posted June 27, 2015 | 10:10 AM

David Cohen started as a software programmer at age 13 and since then he has had only one job interview. Cohen started three startups and now is the founder and general manager of Techstars, a mentorship-driven startup accelerator is considered one of the best startup accelerators...

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U.S. Patent and Trademark Office CIO: IT Must Be Agile, Productive and Customer-Focused

(0) Comments | Posted June 23, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is an agency in the U.S. Department of Commerce that issues patents to inventors and businesses for their inventions. The USPTO's mission was defined in the United States Constitution, where our forefathers designed a...

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Oracle CIO: To Develop IT Agility, You Must Simplify, Standardize and Centralize

(0) Comments | Posted June 17, 2015 | 8:48 AM

If you are interested in large-scale IT operations, leadership and innovation then Mark Sunday is the perfect CIO to connect with and learn from. With over 40 years of IT and technology experience, Sunday is the CIO of Oracle, one of the largest technology companies in...

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Cybersecurity Lessons From NBA MVPs LeBron James and Stephen Curry

(0) Comments | Posted June 16, 2015 | 10:41 AM

One of my favorite Chief Information Officers (CIO) that I have the privilege to collaborate with is Dr. Alissa Johnson (known in the Industry as Dr J. - Twitter: @dralissajay), former Deputy CIO of the White House and now Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at Stryker....

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USCIS CIO: Design a User-Centric Digital Transformation Strategy

(0) Comments | Posted June 12, 2015 | 9:39 AM

Mark Schwartz, Chief Information officer of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is applying lean methods to reduce the distance between his internal customers and external citizens to the IT organization. Schwartz is an experienced - 5 years with the Federal Government - and...

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The Blueprint of Business Strategy Is the Business Model

(1) Comments | Posted June 6, 2015 | 1:52 PM

Dr. Alex Osterwalder is the international bestselling author of Business Model Generation, a book about business models around this approach called the Business Model Canvas that helps companies discover new ventures and large companies to think about business models and reinvent themselves. Based on that book...

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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, invests in...

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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

(10) 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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