There are many tech leaders who are skeptical of awards. I’m not one of them.
Those who believe award submissions are a waste of time and money pin that view on two key arguments, neither of which hold much water, in my opinion.
The naysayers focus on these two contentions:
- Pay to Play. Award skeptics believe that award companies are just in it to make money and that they are therefore motivated to give out awards easily. After all, if it’s hard to win an award, fewer companies will apply and the award company makes less money in submission fees. So, the organizations that give out awards are likely to become liberal in finding ways to give out more awards to more companies. As such, winning an award doesn’t mean you were necessarily all that great. It simply means you wrote a check and made an award submission.
- Best Use of Time and Money. Other award skeptics say that, at the end of the day, awards are just window dressing. If the Marketing team and other executives are spending time on award submissions, that’s time taken away from product/service improvements and customer acquisition efforts. Do buyers really care whether you’ve won awards? The award skeptics say that they don’t. They believe that if your product is really good, the market will buy from you, and that nobody is swayed by awards.
There’s at least an ounce of truth in these observations, but I still believe it is worthwhile to pursue award submissions and here’s why:
- Outside Criteria for Evaluation. Every award has some criteria against which applicants are evaluated. Best Place to Work awards, for example, have a long list of evaluation criteria that define what a good place to work looks like. Similarly, a PC Magazine Editor’s Choice award details out what defines a good product. As a tech leader, I want my people to be thinking about those criteria and putting us in a position to win awards not because I want the award but because, generally speaking, companies that win those awards do so because they are doing the right things for the company.
- Employee Morale. Larry Ellison, the founder and CEO of Oracle, once said that the only reason he invests in PR is to boost employee morale. Employees like to see favorable coverage of the company in the news because it validates and rewards their efforts. The same is true of awards. As I’ve mentioned in several prior articles, tech companies will inevitably hit rough spots. As unlikely as it sounds, award wins, past and present, are comforting in those times. They remind the company of its strengths and motivate perseverance and a high standard for execution.
- Customer Influence. Awards are third-party validation of a company and its offerings. Yes, there are some pay-to-win awards out there, but the vast majority of awards are legitimate and hard to win. As a buyer, if I see a series of awards on a website, it tells me (consciously and unconsciously as well, I’m sure) that the company cares about performing well and that others have objectively determined that the company is strong. It’s also worth noting that prospective investors and employers also are more likely to join you if you have awards. The bottomline? Award skeptics who think that buyers don’t care about awards are just not correct, in my opinion and based on my many years of tech leadership, raising venture capital, launching new innovative products, taking companies public and more. Awards do matter. Case closed.
- Not All That Burdensome.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that having a planned and systematic approach to award submissions alleviates any burden on the organization. Best practice is to define your award targets early in the year and then document award submissions well before the submission is due, based on prior year forms. In this way, there’s not a big last-minute effort to fill out the award forms because you’ve been documenting your greatness prior to submission time. No need to scramble, and it doesn’t have to be a distraction from product development or sales.
My company, Infinite Convergence, has won countless awards, including, just to name a few recent ones, the 2016 TMC LABS Innovation Award, a 2016 Speech Technology Customer Excellence Award, a 2016 Mobile Star Award, 2016 APPY Award, a Red Herring 100 Global Award and a Red Herring 100 North America Award (see pic below).
We are proud to have been awarded with this recognition. It proves that we are what we intend to be — a market leader in innovative messaging and mobility solutions and next-generation wireless communication technologies. It shows that our products, such as our NetSfere secure enterprise messaging platform — are indeed exceptional.
To me, for all the reasons I’ve covered above, that affirmation is well worth the minimal effort it takes to submit for an award. If you lead a tech company and have not made this a priority for your marketing team, I highly recommend adding it as a focused initiative in your annual plan, with target metrics for submissions and wins.
If you’ve got differing or other opinions on awards and their importance to tech companies, I’d love to hear them.