The Top 100: How We Ranked Them

By John McCormick  |  Posted 03-16-2007

So, here you have it. The 2007 list of the Top 100 Most Influential People in IT.

The leaders on the list represent the great cross-section of information technology. There are new-media pioneers, software and hardware engineers, corporate executives, chief information officers, policy makers, a venture capitalist—even a lawyer.

How did we come up with the list?

A committee of veteran writers and editors from Baseline, CIO Insight and eWEEK were asked at the beginning of the year to nominate individuals they thought should be on the list, based on following criteria:

     

  • The person's tangible track record of information technology success.

     

  • The scope of influence the person has beyond his or her own organization.

     

  • The ability of the individual to effect change.

     

  • The level of engagement the person has in developing today's emerging technologies.

The emphasis of the wording in the last point is important, since the purpose of the list is to spotlight those individuals using their talents to direct information technology today, and tomorrow.

You must see beyond the trends to become an influential IT person, writes Eric Lundquist. Read his column here.

Over the years, there have been many brilliant people who have made major contributions to the fields of computing and communications: Adam Osborne, Dan Bricklin, Ken Olsen, Tim Berners-Lee, Steve Case and Bob Metcalfe are just a few names that come to mind.

But our goal wasn't to create a Hall of Fame. Rather, we wanted to shine a spotlight on the people shaping how we use information technologies in our business and personal lives today, and those our children will tap into tomorrow.

 

Not surprisingly, we compiled a long list of potential candidates.

We posted an online spreadsheet of all the names, and asked the same group of veteran Ziff Davis editors to rate each nominee on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being reserved for the people they thought were the most influential.

Of course, there were some interesting, and at times heated, debates over inclusion and placement on the list.

A famous name not among the 100 is Bill Gates. One editor asked: How do we not include the chairman of the largest independent software company in the world, a man who donates billions, much of which is earmarked for technology projects?

A good point, but his argument did not garner enough support. Most of the editors felt Gates these days is spending a lot of time on his charitable foundation, and has left Microsoft and its products in the hands of Steve Ballmer.

The exclusion of certain people from these types of lists often ignites firestorms.

In fact, it's the ongoing arguments about whether this person or that should be on a list—and where they should be placed—that makes these types of rankings not only informative, but entertaining.

And, naturally, we'd like you to weigh in on the debate. Let us know what you think of our choices.

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