That time of the year

There is less than a week to go for the fourth annual NME Innovation Awards

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By  Sathya Ashok Published  May 7, 2008

There is less than a week to go for the fourth - and the biggest yet - annual NME Innovation Awards.

NME received more than 100 entries, from across the Middle East, for the fifteen categories that will honour outstanding projects, products or vendors and individual achievement.

Judged by an expert panel of four, all the entries went through a rigorous process of careful review and in depth research before the winners were chosen. Of course, all of these winners will be revealed and honoured during the Awards function itself which is scheduled for the 13th of May at Mina A'Salam in Dubai.

This time's nominations -by merit of the fact that they encompass a broad swathe of enterprises and verticals from across the region - have been an eye-opener on the growing strength of the market and the way enterprise mindsets are changing towards technology and the underlying business.

There have been more nominations from end-user firms than any time previously. More enterprises across the region had taken the initiative to put in nominations - not only for projects done within their organisations but for products or vendors that they thought deserved an award as well.

The majority of the entries indicate that, investments are being made with care by more enterprises, best practices are being considered and implemented more often and organisations are also getting increasingly conscious about return on investment and the total cost of ownership across their IT systems.

On the products side, we have received a number of entries from relatively smaller players in the market, many of whom have made it to the list of finalists in their respective categories and have been giving their bigger, more well-established competitors a run for their money.

For one, this establishes the fact that not only big or brand-name oriented projects and/or products can win the final prize and that smaller players have an equal chance of winning the accolade. For another, entries from smaller, niche players indicate a market that is enjoying healthy growth.

The truth is that emerging markets need a lot of preparation. Companies have to be educated and have to be coaxed out of a cautious mindset to make the first investments in technology. The vendors who open up such emerging markets need capital, adequate experience and the reputation to withstand months to years of low sales as the market grows. In other words, more often than not, this work would need to be done by bigger players.

However, once the economy starts growing and enterprises start investing in technology with more familiarity, smaller players start entering the fray. This indicates a turning point and marks an important move up the maturity curve for the market as a whole. As much in fact, as enterprises who are beginning to look beyond mere infrastructure deployments to managing them better and getting optimal performance out of them for increased benefits to their organisation.

Over the last year, the Middle East has grown in leaps and bounds in the way enterprises consider technology and the solutions that are on offer for them, and now stand on the cusp of transformation that will take them further along the curve.

It is that time of the year with the NME Innovation Awards 2008 to honour the elite of this growing market, as the region races up the maturity curve. Some would say the best time of the year therefore.

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