Editorial: The value of recognition

Hi Tech Awards celebrate entrepreneurial IT, CIO Awards honour the IT profession - but where is the recognition for the telco industry and tech journalism?

Awards season is upon us and there are two events coming up that celebrate the tech industry – the Hi Tech Awards with its focus on Kiwi entrepreneurship and the CIO Awards that recognise outstanding work inside the IT departments of large organisations and companies.

For technology journalists, the Hi Tech Awards is a good barometer for the companies that you should have on your radar. Will they become the next Tait Electronics or Datacom? A win at Hi Tech is no guarantee and like most things it’s not awards, but time, which reveals true champions. It’s the companies that grow, prosper, and endure in every kind of economic weather that ultimately matter.

What I like most about the Hi Tech Awards is they present the glamorous side of technology, the gutsy can-do, all-conquering kiwi entrepreneurial spirit.

We could do with a bit more glamour in the New Zealand technology sector, I think.

The CIO Awards are different. These awards recognise those who achieve an IT outcome inside an organisation or company which exists to serve a purpose outside of technology. It could be a hospital or an exporter of merino wool clothing, but without the contribution of a good CIO, leading a committed IT team, it won’t prosper. Clever application of technology can ensure more time and money is spent on core business activities– whether that be helping patients or fulfilling export orders.

This year there is a new addition to the CIO Awards, the Engaging Youth in ICT Award, which honours organisations that interest young people in learning about careers in technology.

It’s a welcome addition, as it acknowledges those who aren’t waiting for the government to fix the skills shortage, but are getting on and finding ways to entice smart students into tech careers.

I’m sure most readers of Computerworld would agree that if we want to create a hi tech nation, then we need to turn our kids from consumers of IT, into producers of IT.

Awards can add prestige to professions, and they bring industries together. For 364 days of the year you might be in competition with each other but for one night you celebrate.

The tech and IT industry have that and it’s why I’d like to see the telecommunications industries revive the TUANZ Innovation Awards in some way.

As the Ultra Fast Broadband and the Rural Broadband Initiative are deployed around the country, what better time to acknowledge applications being enabled and delivered by faster connectivity?

One thing that has saddened me about all awards in recent times is that somewhere the acknowledgement of technology journalism has disappeared. The Hi Tech and the TUANZ Awards both had awards recognising tech journalism (the CIO Awards, which are hosted by our sister publication CIO magazine have not, for obvious reasons).

Technology journalism will also not be recognised at New Zealand media’s premier awards – the Canon Media Awards – that will take place on Friday May 10. The technology category was removed a few years ago and replaced by ‘Science and the Environment’. I have asked if the Newspaper Publishers Association could consider reinstating the category but they haven’t done so this year, so I’ll ask again for 2014.

As editor of Computerworld I’d welcome some kind of acknowledgement of the role of tech journalists play in both the industry and in the wider community. I think it would encourage more young journalists to consider writing and broadcasting in this field. It doesn’t have to be restricted to “traditional media” either, as there are many well-produced podcasts and finely written blogs contributing to the conversation. Also it could take into account clever use of social media as well as good journalism.

That aside, I wish everyone involved in the Hi Tech and CIO Awards good luck, if you are smart enough to make it to the finals, then congratulations. If you are lucky enough to attend one of these events, then have a great night out.

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