The weekend review: social sales, disrupting the university, and data centers

It’s been a busy week here as we ramp up for Structure:Data, our big data conference in New York City. It’s hard to believe the show is less than a month away: We’ve just finalized the speaker lineup and conference agenda. Check out all the details and register on the conference site. And remember, Pro subscribers receive preferred pricing by clicking this link. Speaking of data, the week’s most popular Pro content includes Adam Lesser’s look at energy-efficient data centers and more.

First, Shannon Arvizu¬†takes a deep look at the rapidly evolving digital-education market, especially at the post-secondary level, in “Disrupting the university: near-term opportunities in the digital-learning market.” IT spending for U.S. universities is projected to reach $10 billion in 2013 alone, leaving a huge opportunity for education-technology startups to make true headway in the industry. Arvizu analyzes which startups, technologies, and qualities will be necessary in order to truly disrupt the ed-tech sector, including what types of learning and educational content may be most effective and influential.

Next, in “Close.io is a social context for sales communications,”¬†Stowe Boyd provides a hands-on demonstration of Close.io, a new app that blends social networking and a sales CRM. Boyd contends that Close.io is a prime example of “lean social,” a concept he recently proposed that emphasizes the inevitable convergence of social, collaborative tools within the workplace. Boyd’s overview of the app includes a few of his own use cases and a few observations about the intersection of social and business.

Last, in “Three trends that could transform the energy efficient data center,” Adam Lesser takes a look at energy-efficient data centers, which have recently become the pet projects of internet giants like Facebook, Google, and Amazon. But more companies (both large and small) are turning to data centers and exploring the best options for establishing energy-efficient practices and investments. Lesser sits down with Clemens Pfeiffer, a data center infrastructure-management expert, to analyze the latest trends and technologies that could disrupt this space in the near-term future.

Also popular this week:

Connected consumer 2013: how 2012 laid the groundwork for change

Forecast: sizing the software-defined networking market

The AWS OpsWorks launch intimidates partners