The 25 Most Influential Executives Of 2013

The Influencers

There's a saying in football that no lead is safe. Right now, perhaps more than at any other time, that applies to the IT industry as well. As the pace of technology evolution quickens, no IT company, no matter how big and dominant it may be, is invulnerable. Smaller companies and startups, meanwhile, find themselves battling in an ever-more competitive IT arena to survive, let alone thrive.

In an industry that keeps reinventing itself, leaders have to have a steady hand--and an open mind. Here, we present the 25 Most Influential Executives Of 2013.

25. Ursula Burns

Chairman, CEO, Xerox

Xerox's Burns is putting the company on the business services fast track. Services revenue now makes up 56 percent of Xerox's total revenue, well on its way toward Burns' goal of two-thirds of sales from services.

Burns started the services transformation when she took the helm four years ago with the $5.6 billion blockbuster deal to acquire Affiliated Computer Services.

In its mainstay printer business, Xerox remains at the top of its game, grabbing winning top honors in CRN's Annual Report Card for multifunction printers.

24. Kevin Kennedy

President, CEO, Avaya

Kennedy in 2013 has been laser-focused on growing two key market opportunities for Avaya and its channel partners: the expansion of its cloud-based collaboration portfolio and upping its game in the midmarket. Avaya has identified the latter as an $8 billion-plus market opportunity that is now squarely in Kennedy's sights.

23. Steve Bennett

President, CEO, Symantec

Bennett has been heads-down in 2013 carefully guiding Symantec through a two-year overhaul that kicked off in January aimed at retooling its portfolio. Bennett's vision is to create a streamlined Symantec that relies more heavily on partners in its quest to deliver top value to customers.

22. Alain Monie

CEO, Ingram Micro

Nearly two years into his tenure as the CEO of the world's largest technology distributor, Monie is making his mark by driving Ingram Micro toward the cloud and capitalizing on the rising mobile trend with the build-out of a new business unit that incorporates a full breadth of mobile device life-cycle services.

21. Zach Nelson

President, CEO, NetSuite

Not content to sit on his laurels as one of the pioneers of SaaS, Nelson has spent much of this year expanding NetSuite's dominion to include human resources apps with an extension of its developer network, a strategic alliance with Oracle and the planned acquisition of cloud-based human capital management application developer TribeHR.

20. Randall Stephenson

Chairman, CEO At&T

AT&T's Stephenson has the communications giant firing on all cylinders. In the most recent quarter, the company added more than 2 million new wireless and wireline high-speed broadband connections with a record 6.7 million smartphones sold.

The company's channel business, AT&T Partner Exchange, under the leadership of AT&T Emerging Business Markets President Brooks McCorcle, has received rave reviews from solution providers.

Credit Stephenson for clearing the path for the new Emerging Markets Business to be built as a startup inside the Fortune 11 giant. That, said McCorcle, has made the program "accessible to this marketplace in a way that maybe it hasn't been before."

19. Brian Roberts

CEO, Comcast

Comcast's Roberts continues to push the cable communications and Internet provider boldly into areas where competitors fear to tread. The latest example: a new feature called See It that connects Twitter with TV. In the business market, Comcast Business broke new ground with a landmark deal to bring telecom carrier services to the IT channel through Synnex.

The new partnership makes Synnex the first IT distributor to serve as a major agent under Comcast Business Solutions Provider Program. Partner say the deal, put together by Vice President Indirect Channels Craig Schlagbuam, is a game-changer.

One sign of the Comcast's market strength: a combined video, high-speed internet and voice customer increase of 189,000 in the second quarter, a 37 percent increase in net additions.

18. Brian Krzanich

CEO, Intel

After only a few months at the helm, Krzanich is driving the chip giant hard and fast into what he has called every segment of computing. That means leading Intel into big new market opportunities such as sub-$100 tablets and even wearable computers.

Krzanich, a 31-year Intel veteran who started his career as a process engineer at Intel, is determined to make sure that Intel remains at the nexus of the fast-changing market. At his first appearance at the Intel Developer Forum, Krzanich wowed the crowd with Intel's first fanless first fanless Ultrabooks running Core i5 and i7 chips.

Krzanich also has stepped up Intel's game in the mobile handset market with the Atom-based 22nm SoC with integrated support for voice over 3G and data over LTE.

17. Ginni Rometty

Chairman, CEO, IBM

Rometty is quietly remaking IBM into a cloud computing power. She acquired Infrastructure-as-a-Service high-flyer Softlayer Technologies this summer for $2 billion and formed a cloud services division that combines Softlayer with IBM SmartCloud.

If that isn't enough, IBM opened a new Federal Cloud Innovation Center in Washington, D.C., to help the federal government build mission ready clouds.

With smartphones and social computing changing the IT landscape, Rometty has also stepped up IBM's mobile messaging march with the acquisition of mobile messaging company Xtify and a push to bring the IBM Watson supercomputing technology to smartphones.

16. Bill McDermott


This is not your father's SAP.

SAP's McDermott has transformed the once-stodgy direct-sales-dominated enterprise resource planning power into a nimble channel stalwart with a growing cloud computing footprint.

McDermott has cloud competitors on the run with what he calls the "fastest-growing cloud story in the enterprise world." Don't look now, but SAP's fast-growing cloud business now makes it the second-largest cloud computing company in the enterprise market behind The cloud makeover has given SAP a robust presence in big data and mobility. If that's not enough, its in-memory database offering, HANA, forced rival Oracle to respond with its own in-memory database product.

15. Thomas Richards


Give Richards credit for making the $10.1 billion national IT services power, No. 8 on the Solution Provider 500, bigger and better than ever as it returned as a public company to the Nasdaq market without missing a beat.

With a sales force and service delivery team of 4,300 including 1,700 business-focused field sales reps, Richards has signaled his intent to gain share and outpace the market by as much as 200 to300 basis points. And he is already delivering on that pledge.

For the first six months of this year, CDW sales were up 6 percent to $5.1 billion, while gross profit was up 5percent to $853.6 million. That initial public offering, meanwhile, has put $374 million in net proceeds to the company, which continues to deliver game-changing results in markets such as health care and government.

CDW, in fact, which works with more than 15,000 health-care organizations throughout the country, was recently named Microsoft's 2013 health-care partner of the year.

14. Tim Cook

CEO, Apple

Innovation. How about the thinnest and lightest tablet ever --weighing in at just 1 pound - the iPad Air? And how about a new iPad Mini with a faster processor and improved display?

Welcome to Cook's latest and greatest showing of Apple's continued creative power in a fast-changing market. Besides the new iPads, Cook unveiled this year the colorful plastic shell iPhone 5c, a less-expensive version of the Apple's popular smartphone.

All Cook did this year was preside over the biggest iPad and iPhone launches and put Apple on a pace to deliver $170 billion in sales, up from$157 billion in 2012. Yes legendary Apple co-founder and visionary Steve Jobs is irreplaceable. But give Cook credit for making sure that Apple remains a computing trendsetter and a financial firebrand.

13. Marc Benioff

Founder, Chairman, CEO,

Unstoppable. That pretty much describes and the indefatigable Benioff.

Benioff, who started 14 years ago and built it into the world's No. 1 player in cloud computing and CRM, keeps pushing to ever-greater heights.The company, which continues to grow at an amazing 30-plus percent, is poised to deliver its first-ever $1 billion quarter.

Benioff continues to put the pressure on competitors with big deals including the $2.5 billion acquisition of cloud marketing platform provider ExactTarget and social media marketing platform Buddy Media for $689 million in cash and stock. And if that isn't enough, Benioff has deepened the ties and integration between and longtime rival Oracle and ERP as a service provider Workday.

12. Yang Yuanqing

CEO, Lenovo

Don't tell Lenovo Chairman and CEO Yang Yanquing about a PC market slump. He just keeps powering the Chinese computer giant upward and onward to higher growth.Lenovo finished this 2013 fiscal year with sales of $34 billion, a 15 percent improvement from fiscal 2012. Lenovo's PC shipments grew 10.2 percent for the year, which the company compared to an 8.1 percent industry decline in PC shipments over the same period.

"Despite a challenging macro-economic environment and ongoing PC industry transformation, Lenovo delivered a strong performance in the 2012-13 fiscal year," said Yang Yuanqing. "Not only were we the fastest growing among all major PC players, with record market share, revenue and profitability, more importantly, our smartphone and tablet businesses saw dramatic growth."

In the US, Lenovo's product footprint is getting bigger with a stepped-up server march. And the Lenovo channel program keeps getting better and better with a new partner rewards program putting more dollars into the pockets of SMB partners. Look for ever-aggressive Lenovo North America Commercial Channels Vice President Chris Frey to keep putting the pressure on competitors in 2014 with record payouts to partners.

11. Larry Ellison

Co-Founder, CEO, Oracle

Ellison this year was blasted by customers for skipping a keynote at the company's annual OpenWorld event to watch his beloved Oracle Team USA America's Cup team race. And he has been pilloried by shareholders for his $78.4 million pay package in the last fiscal year.

But when it comes to keeping Oracle at the cutting edge of any and all things database, there simply is no disputing Ellison's ability to consistently call the right shots. In fact, Ellison's technology smarts and need for speed has kept Oracle at the top of the database technology pyramid for at least a quarter of a century. There simply is no faster relational database.

Ellison's latest high-speed move: the introduction of several new hardware systems highlighted by an in-memory database technology it claims improves database query speed by 100 times with no changes to the applications as well as a new super-fast storage offering.

10. Joe Tucci

Chairman, President, CEO, EMC

No one has done more in the past dozen years to radically transform his company and its channel sales footprint than Tucci. Tucci, who took the top EMC job in January 2001, has called every single major major market transition right and put EMC and its partners into the heart of the ever-changing technology market with killer acquisitions such as VMware and startups such as Pivotal and VCE.

Tucci's partner track record is bullet-proof, having transformed EMC from a direct-sales behemoth to a nimble partner-centric market leader. EMC, in fact, beat out any and all rivals in the enterprise network storage market this year with best-in-class scores for its channel program in CRN's Annual Report Card.

This year, Tucci and company changed the game in the channel overhauling the company's Velocity channel program with the EMC Business Partner Initiative better incorporating its cloud, big data and mobility offerings. Good news for EMC. Bad news for its competitors.

9. Pat Gelsinger

CEO, VMware

What a difference a year makes. When Gelsinger took the helm of VMware last September, critics were complaining that the company was unfocused and out of sorts.

Gelsinger went to work doubling down on VMware's core virtualization market opportunities including virtualization monitoring and management, desktop virtualization, public cloud and software-defined networking.

Thanks to Gelsinger, happy days are here again for the virtualization market leader, which racked up a healthy profit of $261 million on a 14 percent increase in sales for its third fiscal quarter ended Sept. 30. VMware's all-important software licensing sales grew 15 percent in the quarter. VMware is expecting to see sales growth continue to grow at 15 percent into 2014 due to increased demand for its vCloud Suite. What's more, Gelsinger is enthused about the market's response to VMware's NSX software-defined data center technology ’It really is a software-defined-data center technology that provides customers choices," he said of NSX.

8. Lowell McAdam

Chairman, CEO, Verizon

It's hard to not admire the chutzpah of Verizon's McAdam.

All he did this year was pull off the biggest corporate bond issue in history as part of Verizon's $130 billion deal to buy the remaining 45 percent of its wireless business from United Kingdom's Vodafone. That buyout gives Verizon full ownership of the largest mobile operator in the US. But it also doubles Verizon's net debt.

Don't worry. McAdam isn't sweating it. He is building out a business for the cloud computing era aimed at beating any and all competitors. One sign of McAdam's expansive vision: a stepped-up presence with solution provider partners with Verizon Terremark, which joined the big leagues of the public cloud market with two new public cloud infrastructure offerings, Verizon Cloud Compute and Verizon Cloud Storage.

7. JK Shin

Co-CEO, Head of Mobile Division, Samsung

No executive has done more to take the shine off Apple's onetime dominant position in smartphone and tablets than Samsung Co-CEO and head of the mobile communications group J.K. Shin.

In the second quarter, Samsung, on the heels of its Galaxy S4 launch, more than doubled the total smartphone volumes of Apple. Samsung, in fact, accounted for nearly a third of the smartphone market.

Samsung's tablet performance in the quarter also was strong with its tablet shipments up 277 percent to 8.1 million units, while Apple's Tablet shipments were down 14.1 percent.

The $188 billion company's North American enterprise business is doubling every five years and is on a trajectory to soar from $27.8 billion in 2012 to $50 billion over the next four years. The company's enterprise business division has partners aggressively aligning with its vertical market focus and adding more Samsung products such as SSDs and multifunction printers to their portfolio. Don't expect him or Samsung to slow down. The company invests 5 percent to 7 percent of annual revenue on research and development and finished No. 2 in patents behind IBM last year.

6. Brett Dawson

CEO, Dimension Data

No one ever accused Dawson of not being ambitious enough. Growth is priority one at Dimension Data, with Dawson laying out an ultra-aggressive plan for the global systems integration giant to double its sales over the next five years to $12 billion.

The South African-based systems integrator is in the midst of a cloud computing service offensive: doubling down on providing its own Dimension Data-branded IT service offerings.

Dawson has a lot of resources to make it happen, including a 21,000-strong tech elite workforce and some impressive assets such as a cloud infrastructure as a service that is ranked alongside Amazon Web Services in Gartner's Magic Quadrant. Dimension Data also has added tiered storage services and managed services for videoconferencing and security.

It's the kind of broad and deep services play into the Fortune 1000 and midmarket that is sure to give fits to competitors such as Amazon Web Services.

Customers are "not going to take a whole data center and move it all to the cloud day one -- no way," said Dawson. "We want to be the guys that can manage that complexity. It is about local and global. We have the feet on the street."

5. Larry Page

Co-Founder, CEO, Google

What do you say about the CEO of a company whose shares climbed this year to more than $1,000 per share with a market capitalization of $334 billion? Job well done.

Page has moved the company into what appears to be an invincible position in the ad-driven search business. At the same time, Page has put Google in prime position to go after Amazon Web Services in the Infrastructure-as-a-Service market, Microsoft in cloud based office productivity market, and both Microsoft and Apple in the smartphones market with the Android operating system. At the same time, Google has continued to expand its partner footprint. In June, for example, Google teamed with Hewlett Packard on the ambitious new the SMB IT in a Box -- a "one-stop shop" technology solution that includes Google Apps For Business with what HP is calling its own "unique" management software layer combined with HP PCs and printers.

If that isn't enough, Page is determined to make sure that Google makes investments in long-term research and development that can change the world -- like self-driving cars.

4. Jeff Bezos

Founder, CEO, Amazon

Don't look now, but Bezos is well on his way to resetting the rules for Web services the same way he did for book publishing and retailing. Amazon is moving at a blistering pace to redefine the Web services marketplace, employing the same low-margin mentality that the $61 billion behemoth used to put brick-and-mortar booksellers out of business in the Web services market. Hard-driving Amazon Web Services this year launched OpsWorks, an application management solution; made its game-changing Amazon Redshift data warehouse service available broadly; provided yet more resources for startup customers to bet big on Amazon; and created a new certification for Amazon Web Services professionals.

Partners working with Amazon Web Services say the $2 billion-plus unit is destined to drive slow-moving competitors out of the market.

Bezos, for his part, has said he values creativity and experimentation ahead of market domination. "Some people wake up every morning and say, 'What three companies can I kill this year?' That's a conqueror's mentality," Bezos said. "We want to attract people who want to innovate, who wake up and say, 'I want to build a great product."

3. Michael Dell

Chairman, CEO, Dell

Michael Dell says he feels liberated and energized now that he has completed the $24.9 billion buyout of the company. Liberated and energized indeed. Dell is calling the $57 billion company he founded in his college dorm room the world's largest startup.

Competitors should be worried. Dell has a crystal-clear vision on where he wants to take the company,y with an aim toward making Dell an unparalleled enterprise computing power with a big channel footprint. Dell, in fact, expects the company, which does $15 billion a year in channel sales, to make significant investments to grow that channel business. In fact, he said the channel could grow from about one-third of the company's sales to as much as 60 percent.

2. Meg Whitman

President, CEO, Hewlett-Packard

If you want a measure of just how far HP has come under Whitman's steady hand, think back to the chaos and confusion that reigned at the company two years ago when she took the helm.

Whitman has, to put it simply restored customer, investor and partner confidence. Under her leadership, the company's innovation engine is firing on all cylinders with products such as Moonshot and Haven; the company's channel commitment is without question with a revamped PartnerOne that is simpler and more profitable; and the $120 billion behemoth's balance sheet issues have been resolved.

For Whitman, there is a lot more work to be done to complete the five-year turnaround plan. But there is no doubt HP is headed in the right direction.

1. John Chambers

Chairman, CEO, Cisco Systems

Talk to Cisco channel partners and they will tell you the company has never been stronger. Even a belt-tightening in the summer with a layoff of 5 percent of the workforce in order to refocus resources on growth areas was seen by partners as sharpening the company's enterprise networking edge. It's a far cry from the sentiment two years ago, when Chambers apologized for disappointing investors and confusing employees with a market attack that spread the $49 billion networking market leader too thin.

Chambers went to work exiting the Flip consumer video device business and then selling the Cisco Linksys home networking business in January. Then he doubled down this year on Cisco's core enterprise networking business with a big software-designed networking play with Insieme and a game-changing cybersecurity bet with the $2.7 billion acquisition of Sourcefire.

Chambers has repeatedly said companies that challenge Cisco in major market transitions will lose. His track record on those market transitions is better than any and all comers in the computing game. One big reason: his steadfast channel commitment over an amazing 23 years at Cisco. Call him channel strong.