Enterprise Systems Power 100 - The Top Five IT Leaders
1. Michael K. Powell
(Chairman, FederalCommunications Commission)
As chair of the FCC, Powell can exert immeasurableinfluence over the telecommunications, Internet and broadcastingindustries—although whether he chooses to exert that influence remains to beseen. Powell’s comments on the industry so far suggest a fondness for hands-offderegulation in matters ranging from telco mergers to television content, whichmay lead to more industry consolidation. President Bush, as Powell’s boss, isalready making the expected hands-off remarks and moves regarding governmentregulation of business, and Powell is expected to follow that lead.
As a case in point, the FCC holds the power to blockmergers between communications companies and media companies. Powell sat on theFCC board when it helped stymie a proposed merger last year between Sprint andWorldCom. The FCC began investigating the deal because of the two companies’Internet backbone holdings, eventually stipulating divestments before it wouldapprove the merger. Although the deal was eventually halted over European Unionantitrust issues, it’s significant to note that the FCC fired the first salvoin the skirmish.
Under Powell’s leadership, however, the FCC may givesimilar deals the go-ahead with little questioning. It has already givenapproval to an unprecedented agreement that allows CBS to hold a stake in theUPN television network, the kind of deal that appeared taboo last year under aDemocratic administration and the FCC.
While Powell may be an advocate of deregulated markets,he plans to support fines for anti-competitive phone companies, as he noted ina statement in early May. However, observers with concerns about the “digitaldivide” will find little sympathy from Powell. He has compared the disparitybetween haves and have-nots in computing to a “Mercedes divide,” suggestingthat participation in the information economy is a luxury, not a necessity.Whatever direction the FCC takes on numerous pending rulings, it’s clear thatPowell plans to shake up the world of telecommunications and broadcasting.
2. Alan Greenspan
Although the Federal Reserve chair isn’t directlyinvolved in IT or industry decisions, his interest rate moves influence theflow of capital to both startups and established companies—and that may wellaffect the rate at which new technologies come to market. Greenspan has made anumber of decisions based on the IT marketplace. In early 2000, his decision toraise interest rates was due in part to the overheated dotcom environment. Atthat time, he made his oft-quoted warning that wild speculation in technologycompanies was creating a dangerous bubble, leaving the stock market vulnerableto economic collapse.
Furthermore, Greenspan noted that the “wealth effect”caused by inflated stocks held by individual investors and stock-optionbeneficiaries had the potential to drive inflation up. With such a large numberof citizens holding highly valued portfolios, Greenspan voiced fear that consumerswould react to the wealth by spending carelessly. That, in turn, would drive upprices. With these issues in mind, he raised interest rates, perhaps fuelingthe dotcom crash.
Now that the U.S. economy has slowed, Greenspan looksto IT to minimize the damage. In a speech before the U.S. House ofRepresentatives’ Committee on Financial Services this February, he said thatIT, which has fueled much of the economic growth in the past decade, may keepthe economy moving, but at a slower pace.
Greenspan points to IT’s ability to keep inventory atprofitable levels, speed production and create efficiency in business asfactors that will keep the economy from idling. While speculation in technologymay have led to the current downturn, technology in business could keep theeconomy moving.
3. Louis V. Gerstner Jr.
(Chairman of the Board & CEO, IBM Corp.)
When Gerstner took charge of IBM in 1993, the“mainframe was dead” and rumors were that IBM, while not yet sunk, was beachedand ready to be cut up for scrap metal. Gerstner’s relaunch of Big Blue will bestudied for years—he steered the firm to today’s dynamic $100 billionproducts-and-services organization. In the past year, IBM has shed much of itsatavistic stuffiness, recasting its 390-series mainframes and AS/400 midrangeas the new-economy-ready zSeries and iSeries. A cute little penguin, however,may signal the greatest change at IBM. To the surprise of some, the company haswholeheartedly embraced Linux as a core operating system, from supporting Linuxon desktops, to adapting it to run on IBM’s zSeries mainframes. Once deridedfor relying on closed, proprietary systems, Gerstner’s company has entered anew era with its arms wide open. But now that he has confirmed his impendingretirement, who knows?
4. Scott McNealy
(Chairman & CEO, SunMicrosystems Inc.)
Whoever said, “It’s nothing personal,” never talked to ScottMcNealy about business. If Lou Gerstner and the gang in blue set the standards,Scott McNealy and Sun Microsystems continue to challenge and break them. Fromthe aggressive push of the Java programming language to the recent SunFire, aso-called “midframe” server, McNealy and company come out swinging. He’s famousfor attacking proprietary systems—Microsoft in general and Bill Gates inparticular. A recent article by McNealy in the Harvard Business Reviewdiscusses the company’s year-old experiment in selling its software on eBay andother auction sites – and argues that it allows the customer to pay true marketvalue. Whatever he’s up to next, McNealy remains a champion of the everydaymanager in corporate computing.
5. Carly Fiorina
(Chairman, President & CEO, Hewlett- Packard Co.)
It’s been a tough year already for Carly Fiorina as HPduels it out with Sun and IBM, among others, for dominance in the e-businessarena. She heads a company that at Number 13 on the Fortune 500 list is knownfor its garage-startup origins and early innovation. If a recent $200 millionbranding campaign is any evidence, HP is determined to prove that innovation isstill “the HP Way.” When Fiorina came aboard HP in 1999, she quicklyreorganized the company into two customer-facing divisions: one for business,one for consumers. More to the point, each division has a top VP in charge ofthe “total customer experience.” With that early move, Fiorina establishedherself as one of just a handful of top executives who truly understand theimportance of customer relations.
The Top Five ITLeaders
Leaders No. 6-10
Leaders No. 11-20
Leaders No. 21-30
Leaders No. 31-40
Leaders No. 41-50
Leaders No. 51-75
Leaders No. 76-100