An Industry that Never Stands Still: The History and Future of the SIIA CODiE Awards

Now in its 28th year, the 2013 CODiE Awards will be launching Monday. I sat down with SIIA President and CODiE Awards founder, Ken Wasch, to discuss why the program is so meaningful to the industry and what contributes to its success. Since this is my second year as the program coordinator, I wanted to find out why Ken has invested a great deal into the program and why he gets so excited at the start of each CODiE Awards season.

Why did you start the CODiE Awards?

Every industry should have an opportunity to celebrate its own achievements, and the CODiE Awards were the very first peer recognized awards in the personal computer/software industry. Over the years, we modified the categories to reflect the dynamic changes in the industry, but what we never changed was the fact that it was a peer reviewed program.

What’s important about peer review?

Unlike awards that are based on sales, what’s important about peer review is that there’s a leveling of the playing field. Great products from smaller companies have an equal shot at winning a CODiE Award. If you have an awards program that is based on sales, obviously the industry giants will always win them. And so, awards that are based on sales reflect the marketing muscle of the publisher, not necessarily the intrinsic innovation of the product. The CODiE Awards sometimes recognize great products that may not achieve great commercial success.

Why do companies nominate for the CODiE Awards?

The hallmark of our industry is the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of software developers who are hard at work, innovating in a way that was unimaginable a few years ago. It’s good for the industry, it’s good for the customers, and it’s good for developers themselves to be recognized for that innovation.

What do you love about the CODiE Awards?

This time of year, it’s very exciting to see all the new products. I love the CODiE Awards season. It lasts from early August to mid-October, when all the nominations for the next year come in, and I’m always blown away by some of the new products that are nominated. It’s an industry that never stands still.

How have the CODiE Awards changed over the last 28 years?

There are so many different categories. The CODiE Awards have grown in scope from initially 20 categories, to 79 categories. Originally, the awards were largely focused on entertainment and education, and they expanded to a broad range of business and information categories. You know, the words software and information have become so broad they touch almost every human endeavor, so there are almost an unlimited number of categories we could establish. This year, we have limited the categories to the 79 where we believe there’s a critical mass of companies that we can reach.

The nominees have changed so much. I remember one CODiE Award winner 20 years ago. It was a product called Coupon Clipper, where you would take the coupons that you get from the newspaper and enter them into a database. It would keep a record, so before you went to the supermarket, you would know which coupons are about to expire, and how you might adjust your shopping so you get maximum impact from your coupon collection. The product won a CODiE Award, but I thought anyone who would use this product has too much time on their hands. It was too much work to manage it! But, even though the product didn’t do well in the market, because our program recognizes great products, and not sales, it was recognized for its innovation.

What is the future of the CODiE Awards?

When something has been around as long as this–28 years–it has stood the test of time. We have been smart enough to freshen the program every year or two. The CODiE Awards will thrive if we keep modifying the categories to keep current where the industry is innovating. The categories can’t remain static.

A decade ago, the word cloud meant something totally different. The cloud categories have now become mainstream. The mobility categories cut across all of information and all of software, and the development and distribution of video products has become a mainstream new category. On the ed tech side, the use of technology in education is nothing new. What is new is the multiplication of devices within an educational environment, whether it’s mobile, tablets, laptops, desktops, or electronic whiteboards. The number and diversity of devices is spurring innovation in the software applications that run on them.

Why do you think companies should nominate for the CODiE Awards?

For small and medium-sized companies that want to distinguish themselves from their competitors, the CODiE Awards provide a great opportunity to set themselves apart from other innovators. It’s a great reward for the developers, but it also has significant payoff in terms of bragging rights in a CODiE Award winner’s market.

Wendy Tanner Wendy Tanner is CODiE Awards Coordinator. Follow the CODiE Awards on Twitter @CODiEAwards

SIIA Announces Finalists for 2012 CODiE Awards in Business Software

SIIA today announced the finalists for its 27th annual CODiE Awards in business software categories. The winners will be announced on Thursday, May 10, at the CODiE Awards Presentations held in conjunction with the SIIA’s annual All About the Cloud conference.

Nominated products were extensively reviewed by executives with deep industry expertise who acted as judges to select the finalists. These products were reviewed through live demonstrations, trial access, and supplementary documentation. One hundred and nineteen finalists have been selected in 25 categories, listed below.

This year’s highlights include:

- The category with the highest number of nominations was Best Cloud Application/Service.
- The category with the most growth was Best Business or Competitive Intelligence Solution.
- The company with the most finalists in the business software categories was NetSuite, with four.

View the complete list of finalists.

Rhianna Collier, Vice President of the SIIA Software Division, commended the companies that qualified as finalists: “All of this year’s CODiE Awards finalists should feel proud of making it to this stage. We’re pleased with all of this year’s nominees, and the finalists reflect excellence and innovation in the business software industry.”

SIIA members will now select the winners from among the finalists during the SIIA member voting phase of the program that takes place from March 26-April 13. Software members include the companies developing the applications, services, infrastructure and tools that are driving the software and services industry forward. As such, the CODiE Awards hold the distinction of being the industry’s only peer-reviewed awards program.

The CODiE Awards, originally called the Excellence in Software Awards, were established in 1986 by the Software Publishers Association (SPA), now SIIA, so pioneers of the then-nascent software industry could evaluate and honor each other’s work. Since then, the CODiE Awards has carried out the same purpose – to showcase the software and information industry’s finest products and services and to honor excellence in corporate achievement.

Laura Greenback is Communications Director at SIIA.

SIIA Announces Finalists for 2012 CODiE Awards in Ed Tech

SIIA today announced the finalists for its 27th annual CODiE Awards in education technology categories. The winners will be announced on Monday, May 7, at the CODiE Awards Reception and Dinner held each year in conjunction with the Ed Tech Industry Summit.

This year, for the first time, all nominated products were reviewed solely by educators, who evaluated products through live demonstrations, trial access, and supplementary documentation. Educators selected the 128 product finalists in 23 categories (see the full list).

This year’s highlights include:

-The Best K-12 Instructional Solution category had the highest number of nominations.
-The Best Educational Use of a Mobile Device category had the second highest number of nominations, with nearly double the submissions from the 2011 CODiE Awards.
-Pearson had 11 product finalists, the highest number of any company.

“We’re thrilled to see so many excellent educational technology products making it to this year’s finalist round,” said Karen Billings, vice president of the SIIA Education Division. “We look forward to honoring the winners at our awards dinner in May.”

SIIA members will now select the winners from among the finalists during the SIIA member voting phase of the program from March 26-April 13. SIIA members include software, digital content, and other technology companies that address education needs, as well as the financial and other professional services providers who support the industry. As such, the CODiE Awards are the industry’s only peer-reviewed awards program.

The CODiE Awards, originally called the Excellence in Software Awards, were established in 1986 by the Software Publishers Association (SPA), now SIIA. The original awards program was created so pioneers of the then-nascent software industry could evaluate and honor each other’s work. Today, the CODiE Awards continue to showcase the software and information industry’s finest products and services, and to honor excellence in corporate achievement.

Laura Greenback is Communications Director at SIIA.

Just Do It (Again): How Virtual and Video Game Labs Give Students the Freedom to Fail

With all the discussion about job creation and a difficult economy in Washington, it’s hard to see the positive outliers on the edges. STEM positions, as reported by Mel Schiavelli at the US News and World Report, are being created every day for those lucky enough to have the education necessary to take on the task. Unfortunately STEM, short for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, is the greatest weakness of the US education system. Ranking 35th in math literacy and 29th in science (according to the Institute of Education Sciences), we as a nation not only risk not filling our open technical positions but have already begun to struggle against international competition. Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, claims the US’s worrisome STEM rankings are caused by a fear of failure. As he tells the US News and World Report:

“I think we’ve created a society that is so risk-averse that kids are taught—”Whatever you do, don’t fail.” A consequence of being unwilling to fail is that you’ll never try really big, bold things. Once you define success as loss of failure, we’ve lost innovation, we’ve lost our edge.”

Kamen is right, but there’s a difference between being right and being easy to implement. In an underfunded school what little laboratory equipment they have is expensive, delicate, and difficult to replace. Teachers fear losing their resources in the classroom, which prevents students from having complete and open access to hands-on lessons in the sciences. Innovation, while not outright forbidden, can not adequately flourish in this environment.

So what’s the solution? Have you checked in with a computer game lately?

The educational technology sector has seen potential in utilizing video games since their inception; the interest has only grown stronger and broader over time. The Education Game or Simulation category proved to be one of the most popular for entrants at this year’s CODiE Awards. If you look at the list of finalists, the popularity is no wonder. Game developers have created an unprecedented number of educational games for a bevy of diverse audiences, from small children to high schoolers and beyond the traditional K-12 system. For instance, the 2011 CODiE winner Hospitality and Tourism Interactive uses an interactive and online virtual world to encourage college students to explore career paths in the hospitality industry.

While controversy remains on to what extent educational and serious video games can teach children one thing is certain – in a video game you really learn how to fail. James Paul Gee called this the “Psychosocial Moratorium Principle” in his landmark book What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. Put simply, in a video game your consequences for failing are far lower than in a real world environment; thus the player feels more comfortable with taking risks and innovating in a virtual space. While “death” is a common trope in almost all games, most still save your progress with only some token punishment for whatever error caused your loss of life (such as a loss of experience, lowered health, or the loss of a certain amount of progress). Even the most major losses can be rectified by starting again. Pride is the only loss one might endure in the “real” world. If only students felt the same way when playing with a chemistry set or trying to practically apply Newton’s 3 Laws.

With a virtual lab, students could play with all the different disciplines in the STEM spectrum without fearing reprisal for failure. Meanwhile, parents and teachers would not have to fear injury as a result of a lab experiment. While in a real world classroom students would not be allowed to use a Bunsen burner alone, in a virtual environment the same students could mix any number of chemicals and see the results, both the desired and the undesirable. This idea extends far past traditional K-12 schools. Carnegie Mellon and Stanford are working together on EteRNA, a game environment for simulating and experimenting with RNA molecules. Through this powerful application gamers are not only learning about RNA but helping scientists uncover new breakthroughs in how the tiny cells behave. Innovation might be scary in the real world, but in a virtual environment even the impossible can be tested and played with – and made a form of entertainment as well.

See also:
CyGaMEs Selene: A Lunar Construction GaME
Muzzy Lane’s ClearLab Project

Tracy Carlin is a Communications and Public Policy Intern at SIIA. She is also a first year graduate student at Georgetown University’s Communication, Culture and Technology program where she focuses on intersections in education, video games and gender.


Personalizing Learning by Becoming Student-Centric

By Todd Brekhus, President, Capstone Digital

Reading is one of the most critical skills that today’s students must learn and quickly put to use during their academic career. Many studies have shown that by grade 4, students that are not reading at grade level are more likely to do poorly in school, drop out, face more economic disadvantages, or unfortunately enter the prison population (Early Warning Special Report, Certification Map infographic).

The reading crisis in U.S. education is well documented, and today’s educators are struggling to identify and assist students reading below grade level. While there are many tools available to assist educators and students, I believe that the most important approach to this problem must include providing a student-centric learning environment. Personalized learning is the goal of many schools and districts, but how do we get there from here? I suggest that taking a small step towards making our lessons and schools student-centric can help us build an environment that we can build personalized learning on in the future.

There are several key elements to making reading student-centric that educators can adopt in their existing reading programs, exercises, and drills. Making reading student-centric doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming.

1.  Provide reading materials in a variety of formats. Make sure you have books, journals, and electronic resources to appeal to all types of students.

2.  Offer a variety of subjects and genres. Research shows that providing materials that students find interesting motivates students to read more. And, reading practice builds reading skill.

3.  Supply lots of reading materials available for students. Students need to read materials that are in their reading level, so having lots of material means a better chance of meeting the student developmental zone for reading growth.

4.  Include optional reading scaffolds for students to use when reading. These optional reading scaffolds can help build reading skills if used appropriately; include audio, animations, and dictionary tools.

5.  Suggest options for students to deliver assignments. For example, instead of a written book report, offer students the chance to respond to a book through a presentation, play, dramatic retelling, or written report. Students will often choose the response that they’re most comfortable with (and the format of the final delivery will drive how students choose to learn as well).

6.  Create an opportunity to practice, which is an important part of learning any skill. Set aside time for reading, and encourage student development of listening and writing skills as well.

7.  Consider upgrading to smarter learning systems that include adaptive content, assessments, and technology scaffolds, that are built based on recent research findings, and continually learns from student interactions.

Administrators can choose how best to adapt current practices and instruction in the pursuit of adopting 21st century goals within education. Starting with a student-centric viewpoint and following these tips can start your institution down the path to personalizing learning for all students.

Enterprise App Stores Driving Free-Market ERP

By Jeremy Roche, president and CEO,

Cloud computing is the business software industry’s response to delivering business applications that end users can access and use in a convenient way using the Web as a platform, in the same way consumers download apps for the iPhone. Enterprise App Stores are growing in number and size, for example’s AppExchange, Google Apps Marketplace and IBM’s Smart Market. But are companies really going to download apps the way they download Angry Birds?

In the early 1990s, companies were forced to choose between the best application in a particular class versus buying a suite of applications from a single vendor. ERP vendors eventually won that battle by providing an integrated suite of applications – some of which were nowhere near best-of-class in terms of functionality – which companies preferred rather than integrating disparate application elements from many different vendors based on different platforms and programming languages.

However, the big application platforms are very slow to react to new technologies and functions whereas new apps spring up all the time on a cloud platform – it is a richer, more agile alternative. Cloud platforms offer a common UI, single sign-on and a palette of dev tools, reporting tools, shared objects, collaboration tools, mobile computing support etc. that users, IT staff and app developers can collectively leverage. Apps don’t just speak the same language; they can share the same culture. More importantly, the best cloud platforms are built for the “App Store” world. They are designed for extensibility by mere mortals and the ability to push add-ins into the environment akin to the iPhone. It is a refreshing change from the inward facing ERP platforms that are built to dominate – not to cohabitate. is perhaps the leading example of a cloud platform. From the start, it has provided an open architecture to move beyond the Frankenstein-like app environments that helped spur the No Software movement to begin with.

This is carving out a new trend that we are calling free-market ERP – a fairly radical idea based on a common cloud infrastructure that means enterprises are no longer locked in or beholden to their ERP provider. This will create a dynamic that most every company has always preferred but could not do with on-premise software – a free market approach to acquiring software where enterprises select the ideal applications for their business based on a single platform to assemble their own free market ERP in the cloud.

With Free Market ERP, forum ratings such as the AppExchange give buyers unfettered access to the market. This keeps suppliers on their toes to ultimately deliver better apps and services. Companies want to work with vendors that are focused on business functionality, not the technology stack that underpins it. They want suppliers with expertise in their application domains and true cloud applications that are functionally rich. It’s about choice in the end: a free market approach to ERP that has not been possible before.

SIIA announces the 2011 CODiE Awards winners for digital content

Congratulations to the following CODiE Awards winners! 

  • Best Business Information Resource-InfoDesk Solutions (InfoDesk)
  • Best Content Aggregation Solution- Newsdesk 4 (Moreover Technologies)
  • Best Directory & Business Leads Service- ZoomInfo Pro (Zoom Information Inc.)
  • Best Financial/Market Data Information Service- PitchBook (PitchBook Data, Inc.)
  • Best News Service- Wall Street Journal Professional (Dow Jones & Company)
  • Best Solution Integrating Content into Workflow- Alacra Compliance (Alacra, Inc.)

 Congratulations to the winners of our new supercategories! 

  • Best Information Solution- Newsdesk 4 (Moreover Technologies)
  • Best Vertical Market Business Content Solution- Pitchbook (PitchBook Data, Inc.)

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