These pages recently announced the results of the first ICT Cluster Awards.
The awards are something that I have a personal interest in, having sat on the AWM ICT Cluster task group that developed the awards.
After all the hard work put in by all involved it was great to see the awards finally happen, and Impact Applications raise the Regional Champion Award.
But why have such awards? Industry awards serve a number of purposes.
First they act to reward and motivate staff. If your team has worked hard on a project, or just delivered consistently good service, then winning an award is a superb acknowledgement of their work.
They see their work recognised not just by their employers and clients, but also by the industry and their peers.
Second, awards act to motivate the industry.
If you didn't win this year then hopefully you'll try harder next year.
More importantly though awards can help set the bar for what an industry expects of its businesses.
Awards can help set the standards of service, delivery, quality, innovation and performance that all companies should aspire to, and by which all may in future be judged.
Third, awards have a bonding role.
They are a clear signpost that here is a community which not only recognises itself, but which also wants to celebrate its achievements.
Many an awards ceremony becomes an opportunity to renew contacts, find out what is going on, and even do some partnering.
Finally, awards are an excellent opportunity to showcase the best of an industry to the outside world.
Readers of these pages may well have been reading for the first time about Impact Applications and the other winners, readers who could be potential customers, investors or employees.
Ideally we'd like the publicity from the awards to stretch well beyond the region, giving our winners exposure in the national IT and business media.
To be successful though awards need at least two things, to be distinctive, and to be supported.
It does seem that there are a plethora of IT related awards out there already.
However, most of these events are focussed on the "sexy" side of IT: e-commerce, web design and so on.
With the ICT Cluster awards we want to celebrate the companies that are not only delivering innovation, but also developing staff, winning exports, and delivering honest-to-goodness business benefit to their customers day-in and day-out.
Then there is the risk of award fatigue.
For awards to work they need to entries - and ideally lots of them.
There were certainly a few nervous faces as the deadline for the ICT Awards loomed, but in the last days the entries raced in.
But next year we'd like more, lots more.
So when the next awards are announced please look to the work you've done and see which awards you could enter for.
Remember that the awards are not just for suppliers. We have a public sector procurer award, and would love to see private sector clients recommending suppliers that they have worked with for an award.
Finally we'd really appreciate some feedback, both from entrants and nonentrants. How were the Awards for you? Did the categories work?
If you didn't enter, then why not?
Was the timing right? Was the submission process OK?
And how about an Awards dinner to give those black ties another excuse for an outing?
The ICT Cluster Awards 2005 were a great start. Let's make the 2006 Awards an even better celebration of the region's ICT industry.