Hail to the excellent winners

The cat's out of the bag. The winners in the 2001 Computerworld Excellence Award were named in Auckland on Friday night, at a gala event attended by several hundred people whose livelihoods are centred on IT.

The cat’s out of the bag. The winners in the 2001 Computerworld Excellence Award were named in Auckland on Friday night, at a gala event attended by several hundred people whose livelihoods are centred on IT.

It was a thrill to be part of an event which honours the achievements of individuals and project teams for their outstanding work.

This year there are winners in 14 categories, recognising excellence in IT vision, leadership, innovation and implementation. The winners come from diverse organisations — large and small, private and public sector — involved in an enormous range of activities.

Some of the awards are for individual achievement; more are for team efforts. Most are for particular projects; some are in recognition of efforts that have taken place throughout the past year and longer. All impressed the judges for displaying the qualities that exemplify the best of IT practice.

But the winning organisations and individuals are just the tip of the iceberg. While these 14 deservedly got to see their names in lights, scores of other shining examples of top-class IT projects and personnel have come under the judges’ gaze. All told, 242 entries from 108 organisations were received in 15 categories. After the first round of judging, these were whittled down to 42, and one category — best small business — fell by the wayside because of too few entries.

After the first cut, the tough choices had to be made. This year’s judges will be hoping their votes stand the test of time as last year’s have done. A glance at the list of organisations and individuals who were honoured last year — thankfully — reveals none that have been casualties of subsequent system failure or dot-com disaster.

This is what some of this year’s judges had to say about the job they were confronted with:

“The task of selecting finalists, and eventually a winner, for this category presented the judges with a major challenge because of the high quality and range of submissions made.”

“All four finalists were worthy … separating them was not easy.”

“There were several strong entries for this category, and the judges would have been happy to make the award to either of the runners up.”

“All the finalists were of high quality."

“The judging was made more difficult due to the diverse nature of the finalists.”

“Both finalists are to be commended for the vision and energy of staff involved.”

“The judges were impressed with the innovative spirit of the finalists.”

I can speak personally about the difficulty of the job as one of three judges of the “most significant contribution to IT” category. With four finalists and only one winner, three deserving nominees dip out.

We were torn between the eventual winner, IT Minister Paul Swain, and public servant Carol Moffatt, head of the Ministry of Education’s drive to put computers in schools. Moffatt is highly commended for the work that made her a finalist. But the two other finalists — the telecomms inquiry and IT Investment Forum — would have also made worthy award recipients.

Swain’s tireless advocacy of the importance of IT and the telecommunications infrastructure both as important money-making industries and as necessary tools for economic growth made him the winner of this new honour.

I won’t describe the achievements of all the winners here; profiles of them, and what the judges had to say, can be found in a supplement in the July 16 issue of Computerworld.

But let me congratulate the winners: well done and see you again next year. And thanks to the judges (I, at least, was able to fit the task in as part of my day job, but for the rest, it’s a voluntary effort).

Finally, to all those who entered but missed out on the medals, better luck next time.

Doesburg is Computerworld’s editor. Send email to Anthony Doesburg. Letters for publication should be sent to Computerworld Letters.

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