SIA NPS New Product Showcase Judging

By Carlton Purvis, Published Apr 18, 2013, 12:00am EDT

"It's like a cute baby contest. If only 12 ugly babies enter, then only ugly babies are going to win," explained the SIA New Product Showcase (NPS) chair, Jennifer Martin, of their awards program.

Many industry people, or at least us, have been confused over the years about the significance of these awards. While most security industry programs are obviously picked without any real consideration, SIA's sometimes seemed to be different.

However, the judge's review session left no doubt. “It’s a marketing tool, that’s what is,” asserted NPS Committee Chair, during a brief conversation in the hall prior to the judges forum. At the forum she elaborated, “There’s not many places you can spend a small entry fee and get the exposure you can get from this,” she said.

On its website, SIA says the same, boasting that for less than the price of a half-page advertisement, “NPS speeds the time to market by promoting new products and services through an integrated marketing communications campaign.” And for buyers, SIA says the benefit is a wealth of reliable information on new products.

What Makes a Product a Winner (see the full list of 2013 winners [link no longer available])?

This year's decision raised questions again. Products are judged on their notability, marketability, and affordability (in their words, innovation, technology, value and a real-world solution). For example, several judges noted price was a major factor in their decision to name ISD’s Lynx “Best New Product.” One called it innovative for running on Microsoft. One judge even put two of the factors together saying price was one of the things that made it innovative. The judges however never defined these terms or disclosed how much weight each held when choosing a best product. Even more peculiar, ISD has acknowledged this camera line is going to be priced on the high end of the market.

You (Only) Have to Enter to Win

There were 86 entries from 66 companies yet in some categories there were no winners. Judges say nine categories had no entries. It is too bad for those companies who didn’t enter those categories, which included video monitors, wireless components or CBRNE detection products [link no longer available]. It would have been an easy win. Even products that do not win get plenty of ink in trade publications, ISC West material and online [link no longer available]. 

Manufacturers vs Users

Certainly, this is valuable to manufacturers, at least for the dozens of winners who get ongoing publicity and validation for a few thousand dollars. However, if this is essentially a cute baby contest, where is the 'reliable information' to users, who could be unknowingly stuck with an ugly product?

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