Companies that want to enter the Channel Awards 2008 need to start thinking once again about getting their entries together and this year they have a better chance than ever of being officially recognised by the UK IT industry’s most prestigious awards programme.
Last year, the Channel Awards judges were not always completely happy. The standard of entries was exceptionally high and the number of votes cast for the short-listed companies was impressive, but the panel was restless.
This was not, explained CRN’s editor and chair of the judges Sara Yirrell, due to the fact that anything in particular was going wrong, but there was a bad feeling in the group because some firms had done really well, but would not win an award.
“During the judging process for last year’s awards, it became very apparent that the judges would have liked to show some kind of recognition to some of the companies that came close to winning. This year we are going to do just that with the Judges’ Commended Award.”
As well as endorsing the winners of each category this year, the judges will be able to illustrate their discussion in presenting this new class of award to one of the shortlisted companies.
The Judges’ Commended Award will be made in situations where, in the opinion of the judges, a firm has put forward an entry of a high standard and received a significant number of votes from the channel. Last year in particular, there were a number of companies that came close to winning and were clearly ahead of other contenders.
“It will give those companies that come close, but don’t quite claim the cigar, a real reward that they can use throughout the year,” said Yirrell. “They will be able to use the logo on their marketing materials and on their web site in many respects it will be almost as good as winning.”
Other judges have also welcomed the move. Bob Tarzey, service director at Quocirca, said: “Many of the judges, including me, were keen to see this introduced because it allows us to recognise outstanding contributions of small vendors that are unlikely to win the popular vote against larger vendors. Their contribution is vital in ensuring the industry remains competitive. I look forward to helping to select the winners in this area.”
Meanwhile, Keith Warburton, chief executive of the Professional Computing Association, said: “I think it is great that this year we can officially recognise those companies that we feel are almost there. It can be very frustrating for the judges when one entry is really outstanding in one or two respects and yet might be pipped at the post by another entry that is perhaps more well-rounded. Sometimes there is an entry from a company that is punching above its weight, making a really valiant effort but cannot quite win. We want to be able to encourage them to try again next time round.”
Another important change this year is the introduction of the new category of Security Reseller of the Year. This has been added, said Yirrell, to reflect the growing importance of the category of specialist resellers to the end user community and the key role they play in the channel today.
“Security has become a real value-added specialisation and one that we have recognised at vendor and distributor level for some time. We felt it was time to acknowledge the valuable contribution that specialist security resellers make to the market as well,” she said.
Other judges agreed. Tarzey said: “We already have an award for the security vendors, so it is good to recognise resellers. One of the jobs for the judges will be to distinguish between IT security specialist resellers and IT generalist resellers that happen to sell security. Both are important to ensuring the safe delivery of IT systems.”
There are no major changes this year to the process for entering the awards or to the judging. Firms will be required to submit entries of up to 1,500 words by the deadline of 18 July and the judging panel will subsequently meet to draw up the shortlists for each category.
The lists will be announced on 10 September and the web site will be open for voting from 10 September until 10 October.
Any resellers or IT industry companies with a verifiable email address will be able to cast a vote, as will verifiable customers and partners of the resellers who make the shortlists.
All votes will be scrutinised to pick up block voting and firms voting for themselves. Votes from generic addresses, such as Hotmail or Yahoo accounts will also be discounted.
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