Tech done right: The 2014 InfoWorld Technology Leadership Awards

Vision and execution are hallmarks of great leadership, as these eight technologists proved in pushing their organizations in bold new directions

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2014 InfoWorld Technology Leadership Awards:

Technology creation/management

Kimberly Stevenson, CIO, Intel

Kim Stevenson, Intel

Intel works with more 140,000 resellers who specify, design, build, and/or resell Intel-based technology products. These customers typically purchase through a network of authorized distributors, and Intel's sales organization provides online and marketing support, as well as warranty services.

With this diverse customer base, the sales organization needed help prioritizing which customers should receive the most support, determining the optimal time in the customer's buying cycle to contact them, and deciding what products or support to offer. Specifically, a tool was needed to help focus on customers with the greatest potential for increasing sales volume.

That's exactly the kind of problem big data analytics is meant to address. To establish this technology expertise in her organization, CIO Kimberly Stevenson defined predictive analytics and business intelligence as one of the major multiyear strategic investments across Intel IT.

Working with the business group, Intel's IT group created a Hadoop-based predictive analytics engine that could rank a subset of the 140,000 resellers. To do that work, the IT team first had to better understand the relationships among Intel, its resellers, and the sales organization. The sales organization supports the resellers, but it has limited data on resellers' purchases because of ongoing changes in the resale channel and because resellers purchase directly from distributors. Also, the sales team can only work with a portion of the 140,000 resellers, so it periodically reassesses which accounts to concentrate on. The lack of complete data made that assessment inexact.

The IT team also realized Intel needed to find hidden patterns and variables in data that were not available in the sales database (such as number of employees per reseller), then automate that discovery and analysis. That's where the use of predictive analytics came into the project.

Of course, before any analytics could be done, there needed to be the data to analyze, so the IT team started looking for data sources to mine using unsupervised clustering and supervised classification techniques, bringing it to a data warehouse in which customer profiles were created, then augmented with other data sources to determine each reseller's revenue potential.

Today, Intel's reseller sales teams are using the big data platform to examine the behaviors and histories of Intel's channel partners. By learning more about these important customers, Intel is optimizing sales cycles, identifying more cross-selling and upselling opportunities, delivering better customization, and improving channel revenue, Stevenson says.

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