What do you think when you hear the word “geeks”? Quickly now, first reaction.

For those of us who plan the Citrix Synergy flagship event, the word has rockstar status. Geeks are the heroes of one of our most popular programs, Match.Geek, and I always enjoy hearing after the conference about how memorable it is and how much people loved it.

A little background: Match.Geek pairs Synergy attendees with their choice of geek for guidance on a specific challenge. If you’re stumped by a technical challenge or need some help fine-tuning a deployment, geeks have the answers. You can choose your match from among Citrix and industry experts along with Citrix Technology Professionals for a one-on-one, 30-minute session that for many is the most valuable half hour they spend at Synergy.

Attendees love Match.Geek when they get to Synergy and provide excellent feedback, but there haven’t been many details about the incredibly interesting and talented geeks who make up this program… until now! I’m happy to introduce you to a few of them, who talked a bit about their professional passions, what they’ll be available to chat with you about at Synergy, and more. Meet the geeks!

Chris Fleck, Vice President & Technical Fellow, Citrix

So, what exactly does a technical fellow do?

CF: “My day-to-day is working with the teams to prototype and test new solutions and new use-cases, many of which are currently around the use of IoT (Internet of Things) and other devices that would interact with a Citrix environment. So, things like the Raspberry Pi-based HDX Ready Pi, as an endpoint device, things like new peripherals, or a specialized input or output device, like a speech mic or a mouse for an iPad. There are always new things that we are looking to provide to go beyond the traditional or existing roadmap for Citrix and create some new excitement and improved user experience.”

What are some favorite topics you’ll be discussing with Synergy attendees?

CF: “Healthcare innovation is a great one. We are doing things like applying IoT to expedite or radically improve the logon experience. When a clinician enters the building or a room, we want to make it completely painless, instant, transparent, and secure. And we’ve got a number of projects underway to show that—things like automated vitals collection. We can make the workplace contextual, so you’re provided the right app and the right data at the right time. There are many things we can do to improve healthcare workflows, experiences, and ultimately outcomes for patients.”

Tell us about the reaction you get when you demo these technologies.

CF: “The best reactions are the jaw drops—it just happened multiple times actually, in Orlando, where I talked with CMIOs (Chief Medical Information Officers) who are, typically, physicians that are geeks, as well. And some of the jaw-drop experiences are literally just walking up to a display in a patient room and having the EMR instantly displayed with the right clinician, the right patient, even making it happen hands-free. And then walking away and having the screen go back to a screensaver or back to some other app and the clinician is free to go to the next room and experience the same thing. It’s such a huge improvement over logging in and logging out. Even though there are other technologies that help improve the situation, we think we can dramatically improve it, and we like showing that off.”

Excited about healthcare innovation? Talk to Chris at Synergy! Sign up for SYN809: Match.Geek with Chris Fleck.

Chris Matthieu, Director, IoT Engineering, Citrix

You wrote a blog post in TechTarget about smart spaces. What do you hope to share about this at Synergy?

CM: “We’ll be starting with Smart Spaces for Collaboration: the conference room of the future. You can walk into a conference room and simply press a button. Instantly, a meeting will start, the room will be booked. Skype for Business automatically starts. There’s no fumbling around for cables, there’s no dialing in. Then the room resets. That’s Smart Spaces 1.0. We’ll have demos at Synergy so you can see it in action. Future versions of this smart space will accommodate all meeting applications, not just Skype for Business, and control the shades or the blinds. Every day it’s exciting, we’re tinkering, we’re building things that no one else has ever built before and everyone loves it. They’re excited about the opportunities and the potential for where all this goes next.”

As the co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, what kinds of challenges do you think people need to watch for in IoT?

CM: “IoT security is definitely in the mix of things I want to talk about. And I think it’s always top of mind for a lot of C-level executives. So, I would be happy to talk about that. We’ve got a great security story around IoT. In fact, we have a patent on our approach to IoT security within Octoblu. If it’s a more technical person, they want to know the details about the security and we go that deep—and deeper.”

Before Synergy even begins, you’ll be hosting a Workspace IoT Makerspace at the preconference Instructor-led Learning Labs. What do you want people to know, in advance, about the Makerspace to encourage them to come early?

CM: “One of the reasons we named it “Makerspace” is that we want it to be fun! Traditional makerspaces are all about building things like laser cutting or 3D printing. This is a three-hour class and we want to teach people the basics of Octoblu, how to just get started building things and automating things. We’ll have a lot of baby steps, so a lot of successes and wins along the journey, but the goal by the end of that three hours is that [attendees] will actually build their own smart space meeting room that has automation and an easy button. And then we’ll show them, once they’ve built their own space, how go look at what we’ve done with Citrix Smart Spaces in the Workspace Experience Center.”

Excited about IoT? Talk to Chris at Synergy! Sign up for SYN819: Match.Geek with Chris Matthieu and register for LAB608: Workspace IoT makerspace in the Instructor-led Learning Labs.

Esther Barthel, Senior Consultant, PepperByte

What is the path that brought you to your work as a consultant and Citrix specialist?

EB: “I finished my master of science in computer science way back in ‘97 and became an IT consultant. From that day on, I kind of found my way through different roles and functions and different customers to the Citrix portfolio. I think that was over 10 years ago. I immediately fell in love with the products, but even more with the philosophy that Citrix holds that has a focus on the end user and especially the end-user experience.”

What will you be talking about with Match.Geek attendees?

EB: “There were some very enthusiastic reactions to the fact that I’m focusing on automation in PowerShell, enabling administrators to more easily and more frequently deploy their upgrades. I love to talk about how automation will help free up some time to focus on even more proactive administration of your environment. Another project is implementation using the new Citrix Federated authentication services, that’s a lot of fun. Citrix found a very nice way to overcome the limitations on automating Windows authentication for desktops. I can talk — very excitedly — about the benefits that has to offer.”

What else are you hoping to share with people?

EB: “I am one of the founding members of and a mentor with the CUGC Women in Technology Program. It started as a special interest group among the CTP women at Synergy last year, as a way to share our knowledge and experience with the next generation of women in technology. It grew into an entire mentorship program and now mentors and mentees are having one-on-one sessions. We’re working with technical women in the field and encouraging them to grow in their technical skills. I’m happy to be an advocate, and I’m very grateful that I have the opportunity to step into the spotlight and show women what you can reach in this field, and happy to share my experiences. The big accomplishment this year is that I’m able to help my mentee attend her first Synergy. Citrix allowed us to sponsor one of our mentees as a Hot Topics table host. I threw myself in there as a bonus CTP table host and I’m really looking forward to meeting her face-to-face, because that will be an entirely new experience! We’re going to have so much fun.”

Excited about automation, authentication and mentorship? Talk to Esther at Synergy! Sign up for SYN806: Match.Geek with Esther Barthel.

Check out the session catalog for all of the Match.Geek sessions and if you haven’t already done so, register now. I hope to see you in Orlando for Citrix Synergy 2017, May 23–25. I’ll update my feed with news as it happens; follow me on Twitter @merisummers.

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