The hangover's cleared, the dinner jacket's been put away and the Techworld awards are over for another year. It's to reflect on another year's worth of entries and the lessons that we have learned.
The first thing is that we had a record number of product entries: the judges were almost overwhelmed by the quantity even before they looked in detail at the products. But, it was the quality that struck us the most.
Just as within a jury room, the judges' deliberations should remain secret. In many cases, a particular product started out as the favourite only for the judges to be swayed by an earnest appeal for another candidate. There was no Henry Fonda character turning hearts and minds however, different judges emerged to challenge the perceived wisdom.
We did discern some trends however: there's a growing recognition in the importance of openness. Not just in the products that had been developed under some sort of open source licence but also in the sense that they had been designed to run/manage/support products from a multiplicity of vendors. Secondly, there was an increasing importance in virtualisation as a topic - we reflected this by running two awards on the theme, but we suspect that there will be more in coming years. Thirdly, companies have started to consider environmental issues - something, again, reflected in our Green award - something that would have been regarded as irrelevant just a couple of years ago but I'm certain that this will be an important issue in years to come.
Finally, it was noticeable how many awards were snapped up by smaller companies and by start-ups. To some extent, this has always been the case. Judges are drawn to original and inventive products and these are often the ones who excel at winning the awards; it's these companies who often struggle at providing support. Major companies used to release worthwhile products but it was hard to think of a leading vendor who released anything leading edge in the year leading up to the awards. It's to be hoped that situation could be rectified next year.
We've learned a few things during this year's process and we will make changes for the 2008 awards but we're gratified by just how inventive and hard-working so much of this industry is; we hope that next year's entries and event will be even better.