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Can Technology Bring Authenticity to Learning?

This post originally appeared on Huffington Post ImpactX.

Last week I wrote about collaboration for the Skoll World Forum for Social Entrepreneurship -- specifically about how, despite the prevalence of technology, human interactions and relationships are at the heart of successful collaboration.

In that post, I said technology enables collaboration and innovation to happen on a global scale. And, that a technology infrastructure that supports collaboration can accelerate time to impact for any nonprofit, social entrepreneur, or business.

While at Skoll, I participated in a session that brought both of these elements -- people and technology -- together and underscored the potential we have to make a bigger and more meaningful impact when they are combined.

The session, "Blended Learning: The Proof and the Promise," gave us a glimpse of what the classroom of the future might look like: students working at a self-paced rate and getting feedback as they progress, education being personalized, the use of gaming and simulation technologies. Imagine kids who are interested and engaged, excited to be in school, their creativity being nurtured, not squelched.

In the session, the panel debated whether the use of technology can radically improve educational quality and access globally. I believe it can, because Cisco has used this blended learning model successfully for years to deliver its Networking Academy curriculum to 4.25 million people in 165 countries.

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Cisco at CA World 2013

April 22, 2013 at 4:49 pm PST

I am writing this from CA World 2013 in Las Vegas where the atmosphere is charged up.  The theme for this conference is “Go Big. IT with Impact”.  The idea is that IT departments have to think big to make material business impacts and succeed.  At the end of the day IT needs to solve business problems. Companies need the right strategy and technology solutions to harness the Cloud, Internet of Everything, mobile and Big Data. In a “partner with impact” session exclusively for partners, David Bradley, SVP Channel Sales, CA Technologies featured Rick Snyder, VP Global Partner Organization, Cisco.  The complete video is below

In this video, Rick mentions Cisco Validated designs (CVD), which are reference architectures, and blue prints for success. These designs incorporate a wide range of technologies and products into a portfolio of solutions developed to address the business needs of our customers.  These CVDs document solutions that are tested to facilitate and improve customer deployments.

CA Technologies stressed the importance of the SaaS delivery model and the benefits of providing application services.  CA also thinks that the opportunity for enterprise class application services offered as managed services will grow rapidly.  Service providers should be beneficiaries of this shift. A common customer of Cisco and CA Technologies – Logicalis, won the partner impact award for their managed private cloud solution for a UK bank.

There were several interesting announcements in the past 24 hours. The following caught my attention.

  1. CA in association with SAP will provide Mobile device Management solutions for enterprises. IT Management and Security are very high on the agenda for most enterprises. As more enterprise applications run on mobile devices securing and managing these devices becomes critical.
  2. CA also announced devops automation capability with the Nolio products.  With application aware system monitoring and management enterprises can expedite application development and reduce costs.
  3. CA Technologies announced the acquisition of Layer 7 technologies, a leader in the API management space.  APIs have become a necessity for application developers. REST-based APIs have allowed application developers to build rich web and mobile apps by providing the ability to integrate multiple services into individual application.

These approaches complement the way in which we help our own customers. The ISR-AXs are application aware and improve user experience at remote branch offices. The Cisco UCS has an API and facilitates infrastructure programmability.  This enables integration, orchestration and execution of automated workflows. We will have two breakout sessions tomorrow at the conference:

TD055SN- Cisco UCS and CA: Operational efficiency with Converged Infrastructure (Speaker : Mark Balch, Director of Product Management, Data Center Business Unit)

TB056SN- Delivering Optimal Application Experience with Cisco ISR-AX (Speaker: Liad Ofek, Manager, Technical Marketing at the Service Routing Group)

I am eagerly looking forward to the keynote this evening by Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group.

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5 Tips to Becoming a "Savvy" Social Media Marketer

Where do you go to find social media tips, statistics, trends, and best practices? I recently attended the Social Media for Savvy Marketers event hosted by Cisco featuring speakers from Twitter, SAP, Adobe, BuzzFeed, Salesforce.com, Percolate, and more. The two-day event brought candid conversations, interactive panel sessions, and an engaging way to learn how B2B and B2C brands are using social. When else can you hear from industry experts on the hottest trends in social media and learn best practices to leverage for your next social media campaign? If you missed out on this thought provoking event, below are my takeaways from the event.

savvy event picture 2        savvy event picture 1

5 Tips to Becoming a “Savvy” Social Media Marketer:

Tip #1: A Social Business Starts with your Executives: According to a social media statistic from eMarketer, “82% of employees say they trust a company more when CEO and leadership teams are involved in social.” Jeanette Gibson, Senior Director, Global Social Media Marketing at Cisco, shared that Cisco placed a monitor including a Twitter feed outside of CEO John Chamber’s office, showing the importance of the customer conversation. This was the first step Cisco made in transforming to a social business.  Additionally, Gibson noted, “Help your business to be S.O.C.I.A.L.: Scalable, Open, Consistent, Intuitive, Active, and Limitless”, showcasing the social conversation highlights of what is being said about your brand. The conversation is happening across channels and brands shouldn’t miss out.

Tip #2: Listening is the First Step of a Social Strategy: At each stage of a social media strategy, listening is critical. Before jumping into any conversation, we must pay attention to what is being said and then engage accordingly with that particular audience.  LaSandra Brill, Manager, Global Social Media Marketing at Cisco, shared the significance of listening as she discussed the importance of Social CRM. Brill noted that “85% of Tech buyers engage in some form of social activity.” Listening to what your customers are saying and are interested in allows for targeted offers to be sent to customers increasing the propensity to buy. Note: be sure to be clever vs. creepy with the targeted offers.

Tip #3: Content is King and Distribution is Queen: Creating good “snackable” content is critical to increasing the reach of the conversation. Video is quickly becoming the next generation of content as it is fun and engaging.  Matt Rozen, Group Manager Corporate Social Media of Adobe, shared his thoughts, “the best part of video is the measurable traffic. Video was just 10% of impressions, but drove 50% of site visits.” Content can engage an audience and keep them active in the conversation. On day two of the event, James Gross, Co-Founder of Percolate, advised “If we reshape how we create content, we will shift from renting audience to owning it.” Ultimately, I think Jonathan Perelman, VP Agency Strategy & Industry Development at Buzzfeed, summed up the idea of content most eloquently, “Content is King and distribution is queen.” Create great content and then let your fans share it. Once you have this great content, don’t forget to integrate search: include keywords, hashtags, and tagging!

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Is Manufacturing Coming Back to the US?

April 22, 2013 at 11:49 am PST

Manufacturing Exports up over past 18 months for USA.

Douglas Burtnick of Aberdeen Asset Management was heard on NBR recently talking about how the US export story is really interesting, and often overlooked by those not focused on the manufacturing industry. He said…

 “Companies are seeing external demand for anything from machinery, to electronics, to chemicals, and they’re starting to think about where they really want to manufacture those products. That’s a big deal, because this is the first time in several decades that we’ve actually thought about manufacturing coming back to the US.”

Clearly that affects Aberdeen’s investment philosophy, but he also points out how the phenomenon will affect different regions in the US, and the types of products that will be built here.

This is a significant change from companies going overseas to look for lower costs. So what’s caused the change? Most agree that there are three major reasons.

  • US Manufacturing  is humming

    . US Manufacturing is humming

    The first is to do with the issues of distance, communications and language. Transportation costs are significant. Whilst communication and collaboration techniques from companies like Cisco enable real time connected manufacturing, meaning that manufacturing is becoming more connected, this makes the US itself more connected. Overseas transportation costs of materials and goods themselves  can still be significant, and a clear target for reduction.

  • The third area has been well articulated by commentators. Read More »

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London Calling

The Infosec London Conference is coming up this week, running April 23-25 at the Earl’s Court Exhibition Center. Cisco will be there of course, in a booth showing the latest Cisco security innovations and presenting four papers on:

• “Securely Accelerate Access to Data Center Applications” (Tuesday, April 23, 10:30)
• “The Changing Landscape of Identity: Is 802.1X Enough?” (Tuesday, April 23, 16:00)
• “Outbound Content Security” (Wednesday, April 24, 10:30)
• “BYOD Demo—Onboarding the iPad With Cisco Identity Services Engine” (Thursday, April 25, 10:30)

While taking in Cisco content at the show is definitely a must do item, I have a little insider travel tip to impart. Show goers should also check out the small and emerging companies usually found next to the walls in the convention hall. Read More »

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