On May 23, we held our annual eWEEK Excellence Awards dinner in Boston. This was our sixth awards dinner, and speaking as about the most biased observer you will find, I believe the awards recipients and the community organizations we celebrated provide a combination that gets more powerful each year.
When we set out to create our awards program, we had several goals in mind. For one thing, we wanted the selection process to be rigorous and judged by people who actually evaluate and purchase technology. To achieve that goal, we built a team of judges consisting of eWEEK Labs analysts and Corporate Partner Advisory Board members. Both groups are never reluctant to speak their minds, and they have the expertise to back up their opinions. Goal 1 was accomplished.
Our second goal was to recognize community organizations that help youth groups gain access to technology. We wanted to do our bit to help bridge the digital divide. To reach that goal, we decided to use a substantial portion of the awards entry fee to make grants to outstanding community groups. This year, we surpassed our goal in every way by focusing on funding Boys and Girls Clubs programs in San Francisco; New York; and Lawrence, Mass., and making an additional grant to Boys and Girls Clubs hit hard by Hurricane Katrina. In all, we gave a total of $55,000 to those programs.
Our third goal was really a combination of the first two objectives. The world of technology innovation grows as much through enthusiasm as through expertise. 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. Providing the tools to help them develop technology takes money and avenues to connect these young people—the organizations that serve them and technology companies. In our own small but growing way, we provide some of those dollars and, at our awards banquet, some of those connections.
You can find the entire list of finalists and award winners on our Web site. Each year, I hold my breath as I wait to see how the many hundreds of entrants will be whittled down to a final few. Will the big vendors win out? What about the startups and smaller companies with good ideas but maybe not the marketing muscle of their larger competitors?
I felt that this year we really hit the right mix. If the history of our selections is any indication, many of these smaller companies will grow to become well-known names in the technology community. Our list this year includes Cognos, Microsoft, BEA Systems, Salesforce.com, Lenovo Group, Tealeaf Technology, Orchestria, Antepo, Isilon, Onaro, Compuware, Sun Microsystems, Fujitsu, Opsware, Riverbed Technology, Telelogic, BMC Software, Imperva and Core Security Technologies. Some of these companies you have heard of, some you havent—yet. The winners come in 19 categories that define corporate IS.
On the same day we were holding our awards dinner, the technology news of the day included the loss of personal data of more than 25 million veterans; the release by Microsoft of beta versions of its next major operating system and Office products; Google approaching 50 percent share of the search market; hurricane forecasters firing up their latest applications to try to predict whether a stormy season is in the offing; and energy costs continuing to drag down economic growth.
Technology developments are still great economic, political and social accelerators. The people, companies and countries that understand how to increase that acceleration will be the winners in the next technology generation. What we need is a new generation of young people to continue that push. In our own way through our Excellence Awards, we hope to encourage the next generation to show us the way.
Editorial Director Eric Lundquist can be reached at [email protected].