#10) Hewlett-Packard. Another tough call because for a variety of reasons, HP's great people have been forced to play rope-a-dope for the past 2-1/2 months. But even before that, HP seemed to want to be known as the world's biggest PC supplier, or the world's broadest supplier of IT equipment, or perhaps both—and in the emerging world of extreme-performance systems and software-driven enterprises, the HP big-and-broad position just wasn't enough. Not by a long shot.
In my final analysis, HP would not have made this list were it not for its recent spate of acquisitions. I figured that even if HP's current product lineup does not indicate the type of high-performance leadership (outside of networking) that CIOs desperately need right now, the company seems to realize that and has reasserted some industry oomph and influence by the sheer dint of its willingness to deal.
New CEO Leo Apotheker has some awfully big questions to answer as he embarks on what will no doubt be a memorable adventure atop the world's largest IT company: at the high end, can his company compete with IBM and Oracle? In mobile, does he really think the Palm OS will allow him to compete with Apple and Google? In software, HP's got some very strong management and optimization products, and an impressive new leader in Bill Veghte, but can HP become a real force in the emerging analytics-driven IT industry without enterprise applications?
If Apotheker and his team can come up with some assertive and creative solutions to those questions (think M&A), then HP will remain in the Top 10 Most Influential camp and probably move up a few spots. But if Apotheker and team are only able to make HP a bit bigger without making it a lot more relevant, valuable, and essential, then their big-time influence will dissipate in a big-time way. (See Global CIO: HP's $130-Billion Gamble and Global CIO: An Open Letter To HP CEO Leo Apotheker.)
#11) The Next 10. Some IT industry stalwarts have clearly not made the Top 10 (Microsoft? Dell? EMC?), and we'll take a look at the next 10 next week. But to wrap things up, here's a look at the Top 10 Most Influential IT Vendors for 2010, the ones who more than any other companies are shaping the future of how businesses think about, purchase, and deploy technology, and how they use it to excite and delight customers and to make themselves more successful:
See you next week with the Next 10 to conclude this series—please let me know what you think.
Bob Evans is senior VP and director of
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