The 25 Most Influential Executives Of 2017

The Influencers

The technology industry is evolving by the minute, with new technologies and partnerships driving growth for legacy vendors and hot startups alike. And in order for these companies to remain at the forefront of the IT industry, they need to rely on innovative leaders who can navigate the turbulence and identify the right people and products to meet growing customer demands.

Here we present our list of the 25 most influential executives of 2017, the executives who through their vision, passion and fire have set the agenda for the channel and for the tech industry as a whole.

Be sure to also visit the complete list of Top 100 Executives Of 2017.

25. Ginni Rometty

Chairman, President, CEO


Ginni Rometty has the task of transforming IBM into a company focused on cognitive computing (with Watson at its core), cloud services, security and mobile computing. The goal is to grow IBM's "strategic imperative" businesses to $40 billion by 2018 – taking the company and its channel partners into the next generation of IT.

24. Jeff Jacobson



Jeff Jacobson took control of Xerox after it split from business process services provider Conduent at the start of the year. Since then, Jacobson has overseen the largest product launch in Xerox's 110-year history, complete with 29 printers and multifunction devices meeting the needs of both the enterprise and SMB. Through it all, Xerox has remained committed to the channel, with a pledge to transfer tens of thousands of direct accounts to partners and the formation of a new global channel leadership role.

23. Bill Conner

President, CEO


SonicWall appointed longtime security executive Bill Conner as CEO as it closed its spinout from Dell in November. The top executive has had partners cheering, as the now stand-alone network security vendor launched its new partner-focused strategy and key new technologies -- like Capture Advanced Threat Protection -- to bring enterprise-grade security solutions to SMB partners and customers.

22. Kevin Murai

President, CEO


Kevin Murai helped Synnex burst onto the Cisco scene with an agreement to purchase Westcon-Comstor's $2.18 billion Americas business. The deal will bring Synnex into Latin America for the first time, Murai said, and strengthen the distributor's arsenal around security, networking, and unified communications and collaboration. Murai also drove Synnex's push to roll out a Device-as-a-Service program that enables end users to buy hardware on a subscription basis.

21. Michael Long

Chairman, President, CEO

Arrow Electronics

Michael Long helped Arrow take $350 million of business from competitors as the company becomes the only global value-added distributor left on the block. Long has helped Arrow seize on IoT, saying it might account for half of the distributor's overall revenue within the next half-decade. Long also landed access to Dell's enterprise offerings in all of the same markets where Arrow has carried EMC.

20. Alain Monie


Ingram Micro

Alain Monie steered Ingram Micro into the arms of HNA Group, a fast-growing, $30 billion Chinese transportation and shipping powerhouse. Monie said that becoming part of HNA will enable Ingram Micro to become the largest distributor in China, and invest more rapidly in its high-priority e-commerce, cloud and life-cycle services practice. Monie also drove the development of an offering that enables partners to deploy and manage Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and IBM Bluemix from a single screen.

19. Robert Dutkowsky

Chairman, CEO

Tech Data

Robert Dutkowsky went all in on the data center with Tech Data's $2.6 billion purchase of Avnet Technology Solutions. Dutkowsky said the combined company is better-situated to help partners capture business around next-generation technologies including converged and hyper-converged infrastructure, as well as security, analytics and the cloud. The bombshell acquisition also gave Tech Data a foothold in the Asia-Pacific region for the first time.

18. Dion Weisler


HP Inc.

HP Inc. CEO Dion Wiesler has defied PC and printer market declines by out-executing competitors at every turn. The net impact: an innovation and product renaissance the likes of which has never been seen by HP.

In the PC market, HP is taking share in the premium segment from Apple with sleek products like the Spectre X360 and also leading in device as a service.

In the printer market, the new HP A3 copier replacement product portfolio is taking the market by storm and the 3-D Multi-Jet Fusion product is redefining the production manufacturing market.

In the most recent quarter, HP's PC and printer sales both grew at the same time for the first time in six years.

Bottom line: Weisler has restored HP's heritage as a Silicon Valley innovation pioneer. Enough said. Job well done.

17. Thomas Richards

Chairman, CEO


Thomas Richards has been laser-focused on accelerating small-business growth with the launch of a new practice aimed at providing SMBs with more consulting and purchasing-oriented digital resources. In January, he moved CDW's e-commerce team to its new small-business segment to point more digital resources at this fast-growing market. Separating small business from CDW's larger corporate accounts should drive increased focus and accountability, Richards said.

16. Yang Yuanqing



Lenovo has seen the future of the data center, and it is software-defined. The company has introduced a new data center line, including several new server, storage and networking products aimed at turning that business around. Under Yang, Lenovo is also making a shift toward the burgeoning market for artificial intelligence technology with a $1 billion investment effort.

15. George Kurian

President, CEO


NetApp a couple years ago was racked by falling storage market share and late product introductions. George Kurian, however, has brought a laser-sharp focus to the company, which is now the only major vendor growing not just market share but revenue, and which is on the leading edge of flash and cloud storage technology.

14. Tim Cook



Tim Cook has continued to amp up Apple's product line over the past year, investing aggressively in partner-friendly devices beyond the consumer iPhone -- like the iPad and the Mac lineup. Cook has doubled down on the Mac, which is beneficial to the partners who make money reselling the enterprise-friendly lineup -- with a new macOS High Sierra version and new MacBook Pro generation.

13. Chris Young



Chris Young has led McAfee through a massive transition this year, spinning out from parent company Intel in a blockbuster deal with private equity. With the deal, McAfee blasted back into the market as a $2 billion stand-alone security company, armed with a platform security strategy and goal to be customers' "No. 1 security vendor."

12. Greg Clark



Greg Clark assumed the CEO role at Symantec last summer when the security vendor completed its blockbuster acquisition of Blue Coat Systems. Since then, the executive has led the way as the company champions a platform security vision, including rolling out key new technologies and making multiple acquisitions.

11. Bill Ruh


GE Digital

Bill Ruh has played an instrumental role in GE's digital business -- including creating a strategy around Industrial IoT that includes a channel go-to-market sales plan. Ruh has overseen the launch and subsequent upgrades of GE's IoT Predix platform. Under Ruh's guidance, GE Digital has also worked to build up its channel program over the past year with new partners and resources.

10. Diane Greene


Google Cloud

Diane Greene has changed the enterprise market's perspective of Google's cloud division and the role partners can play since taking over in late 2017, say partners. Greene, co-founder and former CEO of VMware, is changing the way the internet services giant attacks the enterprise market by shifting its focus down the stack, looking to make Google Cloud Platform its flagship enterprise offer and capitalize on an exploding cloud infrastructure market.

9. Larry Ellison

Executive Chairman, CTO


Larry Ellison may have relinquished the CEO post a few years back, but he continues to set the strategic course for Oracle. He has led Oracle's aggressive charge into cloud computing (across the IaaS, PaaS and SaaS spectrum), even while competing in virtually every segment of the IT industry. In November Ellison engineered Oracle's $9.3 billion acquisition of cloud application vendor NetSuite in a move that accelerated Oracle's shift to the cloud.

8. Brian Krzanich



As the personal computing market struggles with slow growth, Brian Krzanich has made great strides in transforming Intel from a company known for powering PCs to one that is centered around data center, IoT and cloud services. Under the CEO's leadership, Intel has launched new product lines in the data center and IoT businesses and has reworked its channel program to double down on sales in vertical markets.

7. Pat Gelsinger



Pat Gelsinger has adroitly navigated VMware through Dell's acquisition of EMC, which owned a majority stake in VMware. More recently Gelsinger has focused on integrating VMware's virtualization and cloud technology with industry heavyweights like Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft, expanding the cloud opportunities for the company and its partners.

6. Satya Nadella



Now in his fourth year as Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella continues to shift the software giant's focus toward what he calls the "intelligent cloud/intelligent edge" computing paradigm. Once grounded in desktop software like Windows and Office, Microsoft is now a leader in the cloud arena with offerings such as Office 365 and Azure. In addition to moving Microsoft out of its comfort zone, at times requiring wrenching reorganizations and layoffs, Nadella has made bold moves like the $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn.

5. Marc Benioff

Founder, Chairman, CEO

Marc Benioff continues to deliver rapid growth for the software company he founded more than 18 years ago, as revenue grew 25 percent during its most recent quarter, topping $2.3 billion. The cloud computing titan is on track to become the first SaaS vendor to crack the $10 billion market. Benioff is seeking to beat competitors like Oracle through new partnerships in 2017 with IBM Watson and Dell Technologies. He is also investing in channel incentives such the creation of a $50 million strategic fund earmarked for investment in the company's consulting partners.

4. Andy Jassy


Amazon Web Services

A major reason why Amazon stock is currently trading at over $1,000 per share is Andy Jassy, the cloud computing pioneer who has been leading AWS since 2016. The public cloud leader continues to grow faster than the industry as a whole, with Jassy leading the innovation engine at AWS with new products including its cloud-based contact center service Amazon Connect and software conferencing solution Amazon Chime. AWS is expecting to pull in more than $14 billion in sales this year.

3. Chuck Robbins


Cisco Systems

When Chuck Robbins took the CEO role two years ago, the networking industry was shifting toward software and partners were seeking new types of recurring revenue opportunities. Robbins has steered the networking leader to become a more software-centric company geared toward new Network-as-a Service opportunities for the channel. He also drove Cisco cybersecurity revenue, while also launching a slew of game-changing technologies in various spaces including Tetration, Cisco Meraki and HyperFlex Systems. Robbins is now bullish on Cisco's new intent-based Intuitive Network architecture, which he believes will revolutionize the industry for years to come.

2. Meg Whitman, CEO, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Meg Whitman has turned up the volume this year on the the rebirth of HPE, leading the charge on the acquisition of four companies – including hyper-converged power house SimpliVity and all-flash superstar Nimble. At the same time, she has engineered the spin-off mergers of the enterprise services business and legacy software assets.

All in all, Whitman has created four industry-leading companies in what amounts to one of the largest business transformations in the history of American business. The net financial impact: a whopping $20 billion in value to shareholders and HPE itself. It's a far cry from the $12.5 billion in debt and demoralized partner network that Whitman inherited when she took the helm of HP six years ago.

Look for Whitman to accelerate the game-changing acquisitions and disruptive innovation over the next year.

1. Michael Dell


Dell Technologies

The channel transformation at Dell Technologies is a testament to Michael Dell's agility and adaptability, to his passion for customers and technology, and to his deep commitment to using data to drive growth at his namesake company. Dell is a leader with big ideas, a clear vision and high standards. That commitment, vision and data brought him around to the channel and he's not looking back.

For partners, Dell's channel evolution is indicative of Michael Dell's willingness to change in order to benefit the business, and his commitment to going where the data leads him.

Now, in the aftermath of the EMC acquisition last September, Dell has taken on another channel challenge over the past year: the Herculean task of integrating two massive partner programs to create a new channel identity without disrupting the flow of business. By many accounts, the combined company's channel team has accomplished that both quickly and successfully.