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Global CIO: The Top 10 Most Influential IT Vendors (Apple And Facebook?)

It's no longer just the 10 biggest, but rather the 10 that are most forcefully driving and shaping the business-technology ideas of tomorrow.
#1 IBM. Smarter Planet, analytics, cloud computing, workload-optimized systems, blazing new hardware, powerful end-to-end stack components, deep and broad services: about the only area in which IBM is not the leader of among the leaders is in a rich mobile strategy. I put Smarter Planet and analytics out in front of this list because IBM, for all of its vast capabilities, has distinguished itself and is continuing to distinguish itself as the IT company that can help your company make the jump from transactions to interactions, from perfecting your past to inventing your future, and from having to react to customers' changing needs to being able to anticipate and meet them.

IBM doesn't just do business in about 200 countries around the world—rather, it has a single global operation with facilities in every relevant country on the planet. And that's a model that many other companies, either inside or outside the IT business, are trying to emulate.

It has jettisoned various product lines in both hardware and software—as well as networking—to be able to focus on markets in which IBM can deliver business value to its customers and significant financial returns to its investors. IBM might no longer be the biggest IT company in the world, but in my estimation it is surely the most influential.

So that's the top 5, made up of two traditional powerhouses and three very different types of tech companies that had been outliers but are now massively influential insiders.

Whether you choose to argue that those three companies have moved into the enterprise-IT domain, or that the boundaries around the world of IT have moved outward to now encompass Facebook and Apple and Google (I believe the latter), the unmistakable fact is that the IT world is no longer ruled by the forces that drove it for the past three or four decades.

I'd urge CIOs to sit down with your top managers and with your C-level peers and draw up your own list based on your company's strategic goals for the next several years: who's in, and who's out?

Size matters, of course, but that's no longer the major differentiator: instead it's nimbleness, vision, and customer-centered innovation.

IBM, Apple, Facebook, Oracle, and Google. Who's next? Find out later this week.

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GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO,
or write to Bob at [email protected].