Because of the increased competition judging was noticeably harder than in the past. There were still a few standout winners, but in some categories we needed to employ tie-breaks and even appeal to the video referee.
As well, the addition of four new categories expanded the scope of the awards.
All the new categories were as hotly contested as the more established categories. The Rookie of the Year and the Best Energy-Efficient Solution awards both attracted a strong slate of entries, with the winners being in contention for the Supreme Award. The Best Co-marketing Campaign category took the awards in a new and interesting direction, by recognising some of the creative work being done in the IT channel.
One of the most personally satisfying aspects of the awards was the success of the new People’s Choice Reseller award. This award allowed readers to vote online for a person rather than a company.
We always wanted the awards to recognise individual performance as well as company performance and we always wanted to give our readers the chance to take a more active role in the awards programme. The People’s Choice category satisfied both goals. In the end we had 15 valid nominations and close to 200 votes.
The awards expanded in another unexpected direction when a couple of entries arrived from Fiji’s VT Solutions; the company qualified for the competition as an IBM New Zealand business partner.
As in previous years, my main role in the judging process was to contact each entry’s customer referees and to ask about their thoughts on the nominated project and the business partner concerned. The higher number of entries combined with the tight schedule between the close of entries and the start of formal judging, meant these conversations were often quite brief. Nevertheless, I found a huge amount of enthusiasm and respect for the companies concerned.
Two interesting trends quickly became clear during this interview process. Again and again customers told me the business partners they dealt with were good listeners. At the same time, a number of entries showed the partner’s willingness to take a business risk.
You can read more about the winners and their projects over the next six pages.
Bill Bennett, associate publisher New Zealand Reseller News.