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3 ways women are driving change in tech

Rob Enderle | June 10, 2014
It can be hard for women at the top of the corporate ladder to really drive change. (Its a challenge for men, too.) Moderating a panel at the recent Women in Technology Summit, though, columnist Rob Enderle discovered that women outside the C-suite are driving change at many technology companies. Credit a willingness to embrace analytics.

Dell CMO Karen Quintos is a closing machine brought to Dell to showcase not only what products do but how customers benefits from them - and, more importantly, how to achieve those benefits. By using data analytics properly, she's not only changing the effectiveness of marketing at Dell, but also for each and every Dell customer.

Through both example and direct effort, this should dramatically change which companies win and lose, and what you and I buy over time. Quintos had me thinking that female executives are an untapped resource to be the driving power, both for sales and execution, behind big data analytics.

HP's Tracy Keogh: Changing Employees From Costs to Strategic Assets

I've argued that Tracy Keogh, HP's executive vice president of HR, is the only strategic HR head I've seen in a large company. HP has joined Dell and Microsoft to eliminate forced ranking, realizing that it's perhaps the stupidest policy to ever come to market.

On top of that, Keogh's systematic, data-centric approach to addressing what had been a horrid employee problem left over from a CEO who nearly crippled the company has focused on improving employee working conditions and employee tools, as well as identifying, retaining and acquiring critical skill sets. (Granted, huge layoffs have offset her efforts as HP moves to recreate itself in the face of massive industry change.)

I left human resources because HR mostly became a compliance organization in the 1970s, tossing out decades of science. At HP, though, Keogh is driving the science back into HR (another segment dominated by women). At the Women in Technology Summit, this idea resonated with my panelists and a number of folks in the audience. People are a firm's most valuable asset, but their treatment rarely reflects this value. Folks like Keogh, with the help of analytics, are changing this - and making companies far more successful.

HP hasn't started using Keogh the way Dell uses Quintos to close deals. But nothing's stopping HP from doing so. Keogh's changes should ensure that the next HP CEO will be effectively mentored into the job. This is critical to a company that changes CEOs more often than I change cars.

Intel's Genevieve Bell: Building Human-focused Products and a Better Future

Intel's Genevieve Bell, the firm's director of interaction, experience and research, is perhaps the most interesting of the power players, largely because she's studying people to help Intel and other firms to build a better future.

Bell is one of the few social anthropologists used in business - and shes, by far, the most visible and powerful. She runs a good deal of Intel's labs effort and has been instrumental in helping Intel see beyond the tactical horizon and into a future that's not only better for Intel but better for the rest of us.


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