Last year, Intel (INTC) generated 85% of its orders -- some $22.8 billion worth -- online. And 26% of those sales came in after the company's offices had closed. With the possible exception of networking giant Cisco Systems (CSCO), no major corporation has moved its customers onto the Web as effectively as the world's largest chipmaker.
The architect of that massive shift is Sandra Morris, whose title is co-chief information officer. Since 1997, she has led the company's relentless drive to embrace the virtual realm -- and in so doing has helped transform the way the semiconductor behemoth thinks about its entire business. Indeed, Morris' mandate isn't simply to move sales online. Her job -- and that of the 2,000 employees she manages -- is to find every way possible to forecast better and sell better. In short, to make sure Intel better connects with its suppliers and customers.
"WEIRD SCIENCE." The results thus far are impressive. Intel claims that moving its order-entry processes online has bought its sales reps an extra 10 hours per week to spend with customers. The company also estimates that it saved $500 million in 2002 thanks to the greater control it now has over the goods it uses to make chips, part of an initiative Intel calls e-manufacturing. "That's a big change, and it's typical of what we're working toward," says Morris, who, at 48, is hardly a wide-eyed dot-com cheerleader.
The daughter of a Harrisburg, Pa., high school principal, Sandra Morris grew up with technology. Her family was the first on the block to get a Radio Shack personal computer back in the 1970s -- and the last to buy a color TV. She took that passion for gadgets with her to the University of Delaware, where she got a degree in educational technology. "We had an air canister in a closet next to a computer terminal," she says, recalling the early days of voice-recognition technology. "We would release air from the canister to simulate a human voice...it was pretty weird science. I was drawn to it."
At that point, in the early 1980s, Morris imagined that she would end up working in education. But her expertise attracted recruiters from the fabled Sarnoff Corp. (formerly RCA'S Sarnoff Research Lab) in Princeton, N.J., where a product manager was needed. There, she brainstormed new technologies for merging audio and video streams.
BUILDING BLOCKS. In 1985, Intel purchased the piece of Sarnoff technology on which Morris was working for use in microprocessors designed specifically for video conferencing. Over the next decade, she moved around Intel, working with a who's who of the outfit's rising stars, including current Chief Operating Officer and President Paul Otellini and Chief Technology Officer Patrick Gelsinger.
Morris made the leap from product manager to mover and shaker in 1997, when she took over as director of Internet marketing at Intel and oversaw the chip giant's first moves into the virtual realm. In 1998, the first year that Intel allowed customers to purchase online, it blew past its full-year goal of $1 billion in online sales in just two weeks. Since then, Morris has had the ear of Intel CEO Craig Barrett, whose orders are for her to find any way she can to move more mountains.
Not only has Morris driven the agenda at Intel, she also has played a key role in establishing the technical standards that other outfits use to send orders and manufacturing information to each other. These standards are the building blocks for even more online commerce.
SHORT LIST. "Anytime you're creating industry change, it requires a tremendous amount of vision and commitment inside a company," says Jennifer Hamilton, CEO of RosettaNet, an industry consortium that Intel and Morris helped found to promote and codify the use of these new standards. "Sandra is a CIO who really stands out."
So, while Morris may sit one rank below the very top at Intel -- she reports to Chief Financial Officer Andy Bryant -- she's on the short list of people whose ideas can make a big difference in the technology world. By Alex Salkever