The 10 Most Influential Executives Of 2011

These 10 executives rose to the top in 2011, having the greatest impact on solution providers and the way channel business got done. From CRN’s Top 100 Executives of 2011, here’s a look at the 10 Most Influential Executives of 2011.

10. Ursula Burns

Chairman and CEO

Burns is leading Xerox into the 21st century with a strategy aimed at growing the company's recurring revenue with multiyear contracts.That's the same strategy she has brought to the table for partners with an innovative eConcierge service that is packed with profits for partners. A CEO that partners can count on to lead them to higher ground.

9. Sam Palmisano

Chairman and CEO

Say it ain't so, Sam. Palmisano hands over the CEO reins effective Jan. 1, 2012, but remains as chairman. He provided a decade of masterful management that has made IBM a favorite of both customers and Wall Street. The company recorded 32 quarters of earnings per share growth and gained a foothold in emerging global markets and emerging technologies such as business analytics. File this one under a tough act to follow for Ginni Rometty, who replaces Palmisano.

8. Yang Yuanqing


There's a reason why Lenovo displaced Dell this year as the second largest worldwide PC maker by shipments, and his name is Yang Yuanqing. The Lenovo CEO has kept the company sharply focused on producing great notebook and PC products for the small- and medium-business market with a best-in-class SMB partner proposition. Sometimes aiming to win in an ultracompetitive market just means keeping it simple.

7. Meg Whitman

President and CEO

The former eBay CEO gets the IT business and the channel. Whitman has won over partners by pledging early on to support HP's bread-and-butter legacy hardware products and then backing that up with a decision to scrap a onetime look at spinning off the PC business. She's off to a great start. Look for more steady and consistent moves that build on HP's legacy as an end-to-end provider of IT products and services.

6. John Chambers

Chairman and CEO

The mark of any great perennial leader is to know when it's time to go back to the business that made you great in the first place. That's what Chambers did this year by slimming down Cisco and refocusing the giant on its networking roots. The result is a stronger and more sales-and-channel-savvy Cisco. That sound you hear is the thundering Cisco herd coming on strong in 2012.

5. Paul Otellini

President and CEO

How do you take the company that has supplied the brains for PCs for the past 30 years and make it a power in the cloud computing era? Simple. Make sure that you have Otellini at the helm. Otellini has made all the right moves to ensure Intel's relevance in the cloud era. Look for big gains from McAfee Deep Defender technology and Ultrabooks, aimed at giving tablet computers a run for their money.

4. Larry Ellison

Founder and CEO

A technology speeds and feeds freak who hasn't lost a step. He has done the impossible this year by delivering on the breakthrough Sun Microsystems acquisition with more product innovation in a year than Sun delivered in the past five years of its life as a stand-alone company. His biggest channel move: hiring former HP CEO Mark Hurd. That's what we call being channel smart.

3. Paul Maritz


A CEO with 20/20 technology vision that isn't afraid to make big bets and break new ground. He gets the cloud and knows what to do to get his partners there. His only misstep: giving the green light to the initial vSphere 5 pricing model, which the company changed only two weeks later.

2. Joe Tucci

Chairman, President and CEO

Tucci celebrated his 10th anniversary leading the storage giant by doing what he has always done: extending EMC's technology and channel leadership. High points include a breakout year for the company's new VNX and VNXe products and Big Data initiatives including Isilon, Atmos and GreenPlum. Great technology. Great channel. And a great CEO.

1. Michael Dell

Founder, Chairman and CEO

F. Scott Fitzgerald claimed there are no second acts in American lives. Not true. Dell Chairman, Founder and CEO Michael Dell, the one-time direct-sales kingpin, has remade himself into a channel advocate/industry titan and his company into an end-to-end solutions power. No CEO in the business has done more this year to bring new partners into the fold. Of course, getting partners on board is only step one. You need a solid product portfolio. And that's where Dell has really stepped up, buying some of the best technology companies to provide partners with a complete end-to-end technology portfolio. Among the technology jewels Dell purchased are Force 10 Networking, Compellent Technologies and SecureWorks.

Far too many CEOs prefer to stay out of the channel trenches. Not Dell. He is working hard every day to win new business for Dell and its channel partners.