Its been six years since eWEEK started its Excellence Awards program in an effort to spotlight for our readers the best and most innovative enterprise-class products announced in a given calendar year.
During that time, weve seen companies come and go, economies rise and fall, and world events effecting and affecting IT products.
But, looking through the relatively narrow scope of the Excellence Awards, two things have remained constant: Innovation can and must drive growth, and technology can and must be used to provide opportunity to underserved communities.
The winners and finalists in this years program and in Excellence programs past illustrate the payoff for companies that take technology to the next level or develop the new technologies on which tomorrows products and platforms will be built.
In fact, a testament to the choices made by the Excellence Awards judges is the large number of Excellence-winning vendors that have been acquired (or whose technology has been acquired) through the years.
The Excellence Awards program is open to any enterprise-class IT product or service that has been announced in a given calendar year and will be released before the end of the first quarter of the following calendar year. (For example, to be eligible for Excellence Awards 6, products had to be announced in 2005 and released before the end of the first quarter of 2006.)
Vendors or their representatives may submit any number of eligible products, with an entry fee of $150 for each vendor, via a dedicated Web site built and maintained by eWEEK Labs (www.excellenceawardsonline.com).
One of the program differentiators is that entries are evaluated by a team of judges, the members of which bring a combination of real-world and lab-based experience, knowledge and insight to the process.
Providing the real-world perspective are members of the eWEEK Corporate Partner Advisory Board, senior enterprise IT managers who act as reader representatives. Based on areas of expertise, Corporate Partners are teamed with eWEEK Labs analysts to evaluate the hundreds of Excellence Awards entries received each year.
In each of the Excellence Awards categories, which are determined by eWEEK after all entries have been received, the entries are winnowed down to three finalists. From those three finalists, one winner is chosen.
Other program winners in addition to spotlighting products that exhibit innovation and provide spot-on identification of—and solutions for—enterprise business and technology needs, eWeek wanted the Excellence Awards program to honor and assist organizations that are using technology to provide opportunity to young people.
For the second year in a row, proceeds from the Excellence Awards program have been donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America—specifically, to clubs whose locations correlate with eWeeks bases of operation: Donations of $15,000 each were made to clubs in Lawrence, Mass.; Harlem, N.Y.; and San Francisco. This year, eWEEK also donated $10,000 to a fund that is assisting Boys & Girls Clubs hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina.
eWEEK is proud to be able to help fund technology acquisitions, training and availability for the Boys & Girls Clubs and to help close the very real digital divide. Eric Lundquist, eWEEKs editorial director, said it best in a recent column: "If the United States is to remain competitive in the world marketplace, we must foster a generation of young people who are excited about not only using but also developing technology. … In our own small but growing way, we provide some of those dollars."
Information on the seventh annual Excellence Awards program will be available in the fall.
eWEEK Labs Executive Editor Debra Donston can be reached at email@example.com.