Nominations Now Open...

by Dan Muse

Is there a product you bought this year that you can't imagine working without? Or a service that helped you improve your business processes in the back office? We want to know ... and so do our readers. The 'Excellence in Technology Awards' are open for nominations.

If you administer networks for a small or mid-sized business, you probably aren't impressed with technology for technology's sake. Whether it's hardware, software or a service, you care only about technologies that can help you get the job done faster and better (and ideally, cheaper) than ever before.

So Many Products...
It's hard to miss the fact that the players in the tech industry want your business and they have gone on the offensive to get it. Whether it's one of the giants such as IBM or Microsoft or smaller firms with a "one-of-a-kind" product, you've likely been inundated with sales pitches and promotions this year — and who has time for that?

While each small business is unique, the common thread shared among many of them is that time and money are always tight. Small businesses can't afford to throw hard-earned revenue at a new technology to fix an old business problem. You simply must get it right the first time.

With the concept of "getting it right" in mind, we are asking you to tell us about the must-have products and services your business can't operate without. By nominating a product or service for our 2004 Small Business Computing Excellence in Technology Awards you are giving credit where it's due.

Trying to organize diverse technologies into concise categories for the thousands of products and services released or upgraded in 2003 is not an exact science. However, after much debate, the editors of SmallBusinessComputing.com, ECommerce-Guide, and Webopedia have identified 18 product categories, which have been divided into three groups:

Awards Details at a Glance

Products must have been introduced or significantly updated (e.g. a new release version) within the 2003 calendar year.

Small Business Computing, E-Commerce Guide, Webopedia, and CrossNodes readers may nominate award candidates online here. Nominations will be accepted through Friday, Dec. 2.

Small Business Computing, E-Commerce Guide, and Webopedia editors will tabulate the number of votes and evaluate the qualifications of eligible nominees to determine finalists. The list of finalists will be posted online Monday, Dec. 8.

Readers may vote for their choice of winner in each category from Dec. 8 through Friday, Jan. 9.

Winners will be announced on the Small Business Computing home page on Monday, Jan. 19.

  • Web Management/E-Commerce: includes everything from the service you use to host your Web site to the software you use to design it to the application you use to track its effectiveness.
  • Software/Service: whether it's as horizontal as word processing or as vertical as product lifecycle management, well-implemented software (on-site or hosted) is a competitive advantage.
  • Hardware: savvy small businesses don't fall into the trap of thinking hardware equals commodity. The right PCs, LANs, WANs, or SANs can make your business the model of efficiency. Choosing the wrong ones means constant headaches.

How It Works
The complete list of categories is on the nomination form. We encourage you to nominate products and services in as many categories as you feel comfortable (you will need to submit separate nomination forms for each). We hope you agree it's worth the effort. We'll compile the information and post the finalists on December 9. Then we'll give you a month to pick your winners in each category and post the winners on January 19.

Recognizing the best in new technologies has a two-fold benefit: You'll point fellow small businesses towards tried-and-true products and you'll encourage the winning vendors to continue to produce great hardware, software, and services for small businesses.

Make Your Nominations

Dan Muse is executive editor of internet.com's Small Business Channel and EarthWeb's Networking & Communications Channel.

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This article was originally published on Thursday Nov 6th 2003
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