Awards Benefit Manufacturers -- Not Users

Author: John Honovich, Published on Sep 05, 2009

Awards assist manufacturers in selling products rather than identifying the best solutions for user's needs.

This is a growing concern as the number of awards are increasing substantially. This month [September 2009], both ASIS and Security Products jump into the awards game.

General Problems with Awards

A number of important problems with awards should be recognized:

  • Judging criteria is vague or non-existent (judges can choose whatever they think is 'best')
  • No testing of the actual products are performed
  • Information used to judge is limited to data sheets and marketing materials
  • Entrance is often constrained to those willing to pay the fees or buy a booth at the exhibit
  • No information is ever provided on why the awardee won and the other participants did not
ASIS Accolades
ASIS promotes its new Accolodes award program as "an incredible marketing opportunity that will give [vendor's] valuable exposure and recognition."
Vendors submit basic product information and answer 4 questions. Judges review the submissions and then pick winners.
While the submission fee is only $250 USD, only exhibitors may enter (which usually a minimum of $8,000 USD for a booth) [see entrance rules].
ASIS states this benefits security professionals by helping them identify new and innovative offerings. Certainly, the mission of ASIS is to increase "the effectiveness and productivity of security professionals." However, how does limiting awards to only exhibitors help security professionals?
And why did ASIS choose BRS Labs - a company that has zero public proof of their extremely difficult claims?
And where is the public explanation of why these companies were selected and others were not? Just a list of companies? Would not security professionals benefit from greater information and details on strengths and weaknesses?
Security Product Magazine Awards
Security Products is running a "Product of the Year" awards program. In this program, there are 7 award categories [see entrance form]. [Update 9/16: An earlier version stated that there were 43 categories based on an e-mail I received from Security Products. In a new message, Security Products states there are only 7].
The Security Prodcut "awards will be given at the discretion of the judges" without any criteria provided.
In its media kit, Security Products clearly states their objective is to be, "the marketing partner that [vendors] can depend on to help generate leads and increase sales." With so many awards and such little objective criteria, this program accomplishes that.
Integrators and Users Must Speak Out
These programs exist because they can take advantage of the trust that people have in the honesty of others.
If each of you raises questions or objections when manufacturers brag about these awards, these awards will go away. Nothing motivates manufacturers more than the fear of losing business. 
We Need Meaningful Awards
Awards can be useful if they measure criteria that are meaningful to users. For instance, best camera in low light (measured at a specific lux level, F stop, object reflexivity, etc.) or best tripwire detection (measured based on FAR, FRR, ROC, etc. in specific weather, lighting and environmental condiitons).
Measure what's meaningful and publish the details so everyone can see and verify.
Until we do this, we are basically choosing the fastest swimmer by looking at photos of people in their underwear.

1 report cite this report:

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