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