The deadline was extended, but there is now less than a week until the final date when entries for this year’s Channel Awards must be submitted. So those who have not yet prepared their entry need to hurry.
Entries must be at least 300 words long, but no longer than 1,500 words. That makes them fairly easy to write, but do not imagine that entering a short or incomplete entry will impress the judges.
The judging panel, made up of independent channel analysts and executives, is due to meet in mid-September to select the short lists. As well as scrutinising the entries in detail, they will also bring their own industry experience and knowledge to bear on the decision. But your entry is the key factor. You need to have a carefully prepared entry to make it onto a short list.
Sara Driscoll, editor of CRN, expects that entries will have to be of an even higher standard this year than they have been in the past.
“These are the 14th Channel Awards and the standard has improved every year,” she said. “This time, only the best entries are likely to be considered. Yes, your overall reputation and business performance over the year count, but if the entry is not up to the same standard, it is not going to see you through.”
The entries are important, Driscoll noted, because they demonstrate a company’s real desire to win an award.
“In the past, we have had entries from companies from which the judges expected to see something much better. That has not been good enough in the past and it certainly won’t be good enough this year. You don’t have to write more than 300 words, but you can’t expect to go through to the short lists if you put through a half-hearted entry that only just meets minimum requirements. We get too many good entries to allow the judges to do that.”
Driscoll is just one of 10 judges who will decide on the short lists and ratify the eventual winners after the voting stages, which start as soon as the short lists are announced on 17 September and continue until 19 October. All the judges are respected figures with vast experience and knowledge of the channel. They are drawn from different sections of the industry to ensure that they provide a broad overall view and that there is no potential for personal preferences or influence.
The judges all offer a different perspective on the market. Bob Tarzey, service director at analyst firm Quocirca, for example, has a particular focus on the vendor community. “IT vendors succeed not necessarily because they have the best technology, but because they engage with their target market better than their competitors,” he said.
“As a route-to-market analyst it is my job to work with vendors and help them achieve success. Key to that is understanding the channel and how it works. The channel and the organisations it consists of are the most important route to market for the majority of vendors.”
Keith Humphreys, consultant at networking research firm euroLAN, is another of the judges to be drawn from the analyst community. He has an extensive IT industry background and continues to work in the networking and communications markets. Some of the strongest entries and competition for votes come from firms that fall into these industry categories.
“As an industry analyst I offer an independent view of the channel, combined with too many years of experience,” he noted.
Other judges bring a very different set of experiences to the table. Nitin Joshi, director of Channelmoney, is a business recovery and insolvency expert. He has spent most of his career in large accountancy firms and as a partner in two City of London firms. He works most closely with distributors and vendors and has come to the aid of hundreds of channel businesses in financial distress over the course of his 25-year career.
“I know the channel well. I understand its structure, its challenges, its people and its promise,” he said, explaining his inclusion on the judging panel.
Keith Warburton, as chief executive of the Professional Computing Association (PCA), has wide experience of the channel and particularly of systems builders and independent resellers. He has held senior sales and marketing positions with component vendors, system builders and resellers, both nationally and internationally.
“Having experience of so many parts of the channel, I think I bring a broad view to the judging process”, said Warburton.
He also has practical experience. “My knowledge isn’t theory, it’s hands-on. I know the issues faced by vendors, distributors and their customers, and my work with the PCA means I am always looking for solutions to the challenges the industry faces,” he said.
Mike Briercliffe has arguably gained an even wider perspective during his 28 years in the IT industry. He certainly knows a thing or two about channel consolidation and the challenges that distributors in particular face. As he said: “I’ve been around for a long time.”
Briercliffe is perhaps best known for his role at distributor Sphinx-CST during the mid-1990s. Having overseen the merger of two firms, he went on to mastermind the acquisition of networking distributor Globelle. More recently he was responsible for initiating the acquisitions of Open Computing by PSL (later bought by Bell Micro) and Clarity’s acquisition of equIP. In total, he has been involved in more than 12 channel mergers and acquisitions.
These individuals and the others that make up the panel provide a good mix of views and tremendous combined industry experience. It is difficult to imagine a group of individuals who are better placed to make decisions about who should and should not go forward to the Channel Awards short list.
So, if you can get your entry in on time, you know that all the hard work you have put in will be carefully and fairly scrutinised.
To register and build your entry visit: www.channelawards.co.uk. The deadline is 10 August. The Channel Awards ceremony will be held on 22 November.
For all marketing queries, please contact Zoe Bloomberg on (020) 7079 3324.
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