The year 2000 was an amazing one for U.S. businesses. With Y2K safely behind us, companies were free to focus on exploiting the Internet. And with the economy booming, most companies had the money to invest in the technology and expertise to get themselves on the Web.
The mantra for developing online business initiatives was speed, speed, speed. Weren’t sure what the right move was for your business? Didn’t matter?you had to get something out there fast, damn the costs. This attitude made multimillionaires of Internet consultants, who couldn’t pull in the money fast enough. (One fellow I know considered buying a private jet so that he wouldn’t waste time waiting in airports. “If I can close another piece of business instead of waiting for a flight, it’s worth the cost,” he declared.)
Last October, we gathered in Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall to choose the winners of this year’s Enterprise Value Awards. Given the party atmosphere in the economy, I wondered whether the judges might be less demanding in their quest for value?if they too might be swept up in the sheer glory of cool new innovations, regardless of the value proposition. I needn’t have worried. If anything, the judges were more demanding than ever.
It’s not that they don’t recognize or appreciate innovation (or efficiency or pure technical accomplishment, for that matter); they do, and they noted that appreciation. But this award, they unequivocally declared, is first and foremost about value to the enterprise. If an applicant couldn’t prove the real and significant value of its IT investment, it had no place winning this award. Not only did the judges demand real value, if a company hadn’t transformed its business?and even influenced its industry?it shouldn’t win either.
This year’s process worked well, as always, thanks to the efforts of a handful of people: Rick Swanborg, my cochair on the awards, and the review board he heads (see “Getting Tough,” Page 136); Mindy Blodgett, CIO’s special projects editor; Senior Editor Elana Varon, who led this year’s issue team; Chandra Tallman, our design coordinator; Editorial Operations Coordinator Karen Zirpola, who orchestrated the judging event; Marketing Communications Director Sue Yanovitch, who organized the film crew to capture the proceedings for this year’s awards ceremony; and Special Projects Assistant Cristina Sousa, who took care of our winners once they were selected. There are many more people (the judges, writers and editors, and, of course, the applicants) whose interest, talents and dedication to excellence took this year’s awards program and this issue to a new level. My thanks to you all.