Sara Yirrell, editorial director of CRN and head judge for the Channel Awards, explains why we have shaken up the awards, reworked or scrapped categories and are laying down the challenge to you, our audience
The CRN Channel Awards are now in their 22nd year. We have made it past the awkward teen stage to full adulthood.
Since the first ceremony in the late 90s, the awards have grown every year to become the megalith that we all know today, with more than 1,700 industry movers and shakers letting their hair down and celebrating excellence on one night in a giant tent in Battersea Park.
Of course, there have been moments to forget (Melinda Messenger), and those that will be always remembered (Graham Norton).
It is a well-known fact that when you run an awards evening the size of CRN's, as the organiser you can never really win. Some will always cry foul, or unfairness, or you will be accused of pandering to sponsors. At other industry awards perhaps they may have valid points. But not with the Channel Awards.
CRN values its independence far too much for that. This point cannot be emphasised enough and just speak to any of the judges to verify this point.
All the winners are chosen after the entries are scrutinised by two independent panels of judges, comprising independent industry analysts, representatives from resellers, distributors and vendors; and other independent industry observers/consultants.
Each entry is read and scored by the judges, and it is the quality of entry that makes a winner, not how big they are or how much they spend. To keep the awards fresh and as popular as they have been over the years, it is necessary to make changes and stay with the times.
Some of the categories were becoming outdated and irrelevant when compared with the changes in technology we have seen in the industry. So with that in mind, and after extensive research among industry players, you will notice there are some new categories emerging among the 25 on offer, and some of the old ones have been scrapped or evolved.
For vendors, we have the Mobile Device Vendor category, hopefully reflecting the continual trend towards flexible working and a more mobile workforce that firms in the public and private sector are demanding.
Distributors will also notice the changes with Systems Distributor being replaced with Client Distributor, Networking Distributor replaced with Networking and Infrastructure Distributor; and even more importantly a Cloud Distributor of the Year category added. It is distribution that has changed the most over the years and these new categories better reflect the product lines and technology types they carry.
However, the most changed set of categories is for resellers. And so it should be, considering these are our core readers.
Indeed, CRN had several conversations about the very term "reseller" - but in the case of some of the awards, it is the only term that actually works. Despite this, several of the categories are now aimed at "providers", in the hope that those who may have been put off by the term "reseller" will enter once again or for the first time.
New this year is Corporate VAR of the Year, Public Sector Provider of the Year and Cloud Services Provider of the Year. If none of those fits your business model, we would be quite worried.
Corporate is a title that was popular with those polled, encompassing both mid-market and enterprise customers. Most players have a mix of both types of clients so the change made sense.
Both public sector and cloud are such popular areas that we should have had dedicated awards for them before now.
Category changes aside, we are urging those entering to think outside the box when submitting their entry.
We are actively encouraging PDF or video entries - anything that shows off personality or something different. I have personally rewritten all the category criteria so they reflect exactly what the judges look for and mark on.
The process really cannot get any clearer or transparent, and together with the top tips for entering and our very clear Ts&Cs, there is nothing more to add.
Please read all the criteria and accompanying instructions on the dedicated Channel Awards website before entering, take your time with your entry, and don't be afraid to do something different. We aren't.