ARN is proud to announce the finalists of an enhanced Innovation Awards in 2021, housing a record-breaking number of submissions in what will be the largest celebration of ecosystem excellence in delivering transformative customer solutions across Australia.
Now set for Thursday 9 December, Innovation Awards will run as an in-person black tie event to bring the industry back together under the ARN roof at ICC Sydney — aligned to COVID-safe conditions of entry to in-person event formats.
Representing the entire Australian ecosystem, 315 finalists (including 85+ individuals) make the shortlist from a pool of over 195 organisations and more than 470 nominations, spanning partner, start-up, telco, vendor and distributor businesses.
This marks a significant expansion in reach, support and market appeal, outpacing a best effort of over 200 finalists in 2020 to position Innovation Awards as the leading technology awards program for customer innovation and ecosystem excellence in the Australian channel.
Reflective of a diverse technology network, more than 125 partners and start-ups are represented and range from large-scale multinational consultancy firms to emerging start-ups, alongside leading system integrators, managed service providers and solution consultants, plus cloud specialists, independent software vendors, boutique agencies and application developers.
This is in addition to over 55 channel-centric vendors and telecommunications providers, plus 15 supply chain experts in distribution.
Within this standout group, finalists are located across the entire country and represent all states and territories, spanning New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Australian Capital Territory (ACT), South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory.
Aligned to the ARN approach of representing established and emerging technology providers in equal measure, Innovation Awards in 2021 stands tall as the leading forum for setting the industry benchmark for ecosystem excellence across Australia.
“The 15th running of ARN Innovation Awards has undoubtedly captured the most challenging yet transformative period of the Australian channel,” said Cherry Yumul, vice president of Strategic Partnerships and Innovation at IDG. “On the one hand, battling against the odds to keep businesses running during COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, yet on the other, raising the bar for industry excellence through the deployment of bleeding-edge technologies and solutions.
“Such juxtaposition perfectly illustrates the DNA of this industry — tough and transformative in equal measure.”
In 2021, Innovation Awards will honour the channel across eight categories, spanning Partner Innovation, Tech Innovation, Australia-wide Innovation, Start-up Innovation, Personal Innovation, Vendor Innovation, Distributor Innovation and Hall of Fame.
In streamlining the program — reducing the category count from 10 to eight — the aim is to increase focus on the pace-setters of the local market, those revving up the innovation engine and powering ahead in the delivery of transformative solutions and services.
One new category introduced is Australia-wide Innovation which recognises partners headquartered outside of the two most-populated metropolitan areas in the country (Sydney and Melbourne) delivering customer value and transformation.
“We sought transformative projects and examples of best practice that produced significant impact to businesses and customer service, and this year’s nominees did not disappoint,” Yumul added.
“The strong calibre of submissions is testament to the ecosystem’s innovation and creativity in the face of adversity. We are especially honoured to highlight the solid performance hailing from the regional areas which provides an impressive national picture of the country’s innovation and entrepreneurship assets.”
Other award additions include Think Differently, acknowledging partners operating beyond transactional engagement to deploy creative and unique solutions in the pursuit of customer transformation.
Specific to distribution, Creativity will acknowledge distributors delivering outside-of-the-box initiatives to enhance vendor value propositions and spearhead partner innovation efforts, aligned to the collective goal of driving ecosystem growth.
In response to a wealth of standout submissions, Personal Innovation has been divided to best acknowledge and highlight the depth of talent in the Australian market. Technical Excellence, Marketing Excellence, Sales Excellence and Management Excellence will be segmented into two sub-categories spanning Partner and Vendor / Distributor awards.
This is alongside the addition of a Collaboration award within the Vendor Innovation category, acknowledging the sharp rise in unified communications and remote working solutions being deployed via the channel during the past 12 months.
This decision was made by the IDG shortlist panel consisting of Cherry Yumul (vice president of Strategic Partnerships and Innovation); James Henderson (Editorial Director) and Julia Talevski (Senior Journalist) with the aim of providing a foundation upon which a broader range of exceptional companies can be recognised.
In addition to honouring winners, ARN also holds wider responsibility for ensuring as many credible technology providers are endorsed through this unique awards program, aligned to the collective goal of providing a platform upon which the ecosystem can shine across Australia.
Finalists will now be selected by an executive judging panel of business leaders from partner, vendor and distributor organisations.
Enhanced customer exposure
In a step away from predictable awards programs, local partner ecosystem expertise will not only be acknowledged and celebrated, but transformative examples of partner best practice amplified further to more than 210,000 potential customers nationwide via a digital marketing alliance with the end-user media brands of IDG — CIO, CSO and Computerworld.
Notable enhancements centre around the increased prioritisation of customer case studies to showcase the innovative capabilities of expert partners, a commitment to expand reach into all states and territories and a heightened focus on both established and emerging providers.
To achieve this, ARN has joined forces with the Enterprise media brands of IDG to enhance Innovation Awards value to emerging and established partners across Australia, providing heightened end-user exposure via market-leading CIO, CSO and Computerworld publications.
In a first-of-a-kind industry move, the alliance will centre on running targeted digital campaigns designed to showcase leading technology providers to potential customers nationwide, illustrating ecosystem excellence to more than 210,000 end-users in the process.
Specifically, the core stable of IDG media brands — Channel (ARN) and Enterprise (CIO, CSO and Computerworld) — will combine to raise brand awareness levels of transformative partners delivering innovative solutions and services, based on the finalist submissions for the upcoming Innovation Awards in December.
All shortlisted partners in 2021 will receive marketing exposure via IDG’s prominent Enterprise publications — in addition to customary ARN publicity — to showcase specialised consultation, transformative projects and leading-edge implementation within the channel.
This will take shape in the form of a strategic sponsored article housed on each respective end-user brand detailing all partner category finalists and winners, providing opportunity to position partners as standout outsourcing providers.
The decision to add an outside-of-the-box marketing element to the Innovation Awards was motivated by a desire to further accelerate connection levels between partners and customers in Australia.
As an ongoing champion of the channel, ARN is uniquely positioned to not only advise and amplify the value of the ecosystem — via editorial content, executive conferences and awards programs — but to also assume an active role in contributing to partner success and future growth.
Shaped by EDGE Research — commissioned by ARN and delivered in partnership with Tech Research Asia — this approach is also designed to reflect the top strategic priorities of channel partners in 2021 and beyond, centred primarily around attracting new customers.
The equation for partners is simple: industry recognition via ARN Innovation Awards + marketing exposure via CIO, CSO and Computerworld publications = enhanced end-user brand profile and positioning.
ARN congratulates all finalists and thanks all organisations and individuals for taking the time to submit nominations.
Partner Innovation recognises customer innovation and excellence across the key market segments of Enterprise, Mid-Market and SMB, in addition to pioneering technology specialists and collaborative providers.
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