For the first time ever, the judges could not decide on a winner of an award and gave the prize jointly to T Mobile for its implementation of WiFi on Southern trains and to Royal Bank of Scotland for its Group Enterprise Platform project.
The award is annually given to the project that, in the opinion of the judges, has firm business criteria, displays imagination and resourcefulness, and, most important of all, meets its clear and definable targets.
The T Mobile WiFi on Trains project was set up with the aim of establishing a broadband WiFI service on the Southern rail service between London and Brighton, an excessively busy commuter route. Passengers on these trains are able to access the Interent at broadband speeds thanks to a partnership between T Mobile, Nomad Digit (who provide the technology) and Southern.
The biggest challenge is in installing and maintaining a two-way broadband connection on a moving train. In order to achieve this, T Mobile and Nomad built an 82km corridor alongside the track, based on WiMax – where there are broadband blind spots, users are able to connect via the cellular networks. Users are not lumbered with steam-age speeds; he service delivers 32Mbit/s in both directions.
The Royal Bank of Scotland project was a very different type of business challenge, The bank had the task of upgrading a diverse (and in some cases, antiquated) range of technologies to all its branches,. The technologies that were being replaced included Token Ring, OS2, NT4, Novell servers and Windows 98.
This was not a small undertaking, the bank had 2,600 branches to be upgraded, serving some 50,000 users.
The RBS had to supply all the employees with an upgraded desktop using Windows XP and provide all staff access to the Internet. It doesn’t sound a significant technology upgrade but the size of the undertaking (the project involved 120 central servers and 649 branch servers alone) meant that the bank faced a substantial logistical challenge. The fact that the bank completed the roll-out within 6 months (on time and on budget) without any disruption to business spoke volumes for the project management skills.
The efforts were appreciated by the users too. Ninety six percent of branch managers said that the staff had adapted quickly to the new change and that the impact on staff and customers had been considered throughout the project. The judges were particularly impressed by this: keeping users happy and fully-informed is one of the hardest tasks for any project manager.
Maxwell Cooter, editor of Techworld and chairman of the judges, said that it had been impossible to separate the two projects. "They were very different projects: one showed inventiveness and resourcefulness in implementing the type of project that has made a difference to the life of commuters: a clear example of how technology can transform the way that we work."
"The other demonstrated some excellent planning, superb logistical skills and a sensitivity to the needs and requirements of end users. To hit all targets on a complex upgrade like that had to be applauded.”
Cooter added that the decision to share the award had been taken after a long discussion when it was apparent that the judges couldn’t separate the two projects.
"What was unfortunate was that the two runner-up projects, from Reed Employment and Comtact, were also good ones, in another year, one of them might have won but we had an exceptionally good crop of entries this year," added Cooter.
For a full list of winners, please look at the Techworld awards section.