How to Make Award Programs Legitimate

By: John Honovich, Published on Dec 21, 2011

Security industy awards today are a joke -- shallow attempts to reward manufacturers who buy ads, booths or research from the award provider.

However, reforming these programs can be done in a straightforward manner. In this article, we explain the key steps that awarders can adopt to legitimaze their award programs.

Full Disclosure on Why Who Won and Lost

PROBLEM: Typically, award documents recite the marketing copy of the 'winning' product's brochure / press releases. However, they never explain why Product A won over Product B, C or D. As such, it is impossible to gauge what reason or factor made one product 'better' than another.

SOLUTION: Publish a 2 page document that explains the top 3 reasons why the winning product 'won' and why each of the losing products lost.

BENEFIT: This motivates the judges to better justify their decision and allows the community to more easily see if the awards make sense.

Open Feedback from the Community on Award Winners

PROBLEM: Once awards are made, a press release is issued, the award 'winners' put the award logo on their marketing collateral and that is that. No forum is provided for the community to ask questions and provide feedback.

SOLUTION: On the same document explaining the award decision, add a comments section at the bottom of the document allowing anyone to post feedback or ask questions about why the decision was made.

BENEFIT: This motivates the judges to be careful in their decision process as they will have to face the questions of the community. This also allows the community to share alternative information and views about why certain products may be better or worse than portrayed.

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These steps are fairly easily to do and do not cost much money at all. The only thing the awarder needs to do is have the courage to justify and defend their decision.

Real Experts, Tough Questions and Hands on Testing

This is the bare minimum. Truly, for an award to be first rate, it would need to be judged by real experts (not PR people masquerading as 'editors' - Hi SecurityDealer!) asking tough questions and doing hands on testing. When judging is based on marketing materials and short conversations (as they are in almost all awards), it is is easy to spin the judges with tall tales. That noted, the organizations giving these awards do not have the resources or competency to truly judge at this level.

Conclusions

If awarders like ASIS, SIA, Security Products, Frost, etc. are serious about making their awards legitimate, they can start with the very easy steps of explicitly and publicly explaining their award decisions and allowing the community to publicly respond and question those awards.

Background

We have a number of articles on awards. For further reading, see:

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