1. Mark Hurd
When Hurd joined Oracle, some might have wondered what the former chairman, CEO and president of hardware powerhouse Hewlett-Packard knew about software. It turns out that wasn’t the question to ask; it was, “What doesn’t Oracle know about hardware?” Hurd has spent the last year filling the knowledge gap by bringing his hardware expertise to bear, particularly when it comes to building a well-oiled, profitable channel. He’s done nothing short of the impossible, remaking direct-sales antagonist Oracle into a channel-friendly power. He has transformed the company’s sales compensation plan and launched new partner incentives that pave the way to success for not only the hardware partners Oracle inherited via its Sun Microsystems acquisition, but also the software partners it was already working with.