Deciding the winners of the CIO Enterprise Value Awards gets tougher every year. If you think of the pool of applicants as a class of students, then this year\u2019s group was like an advanced placement course for overachievers. In such cases, it\u2019s much harder to pick out the cream of the crop.The judging task was simpler 10 years ago, when CIO launched the awards program?the winners were much easier to discern, thanks in part to the fact that the evidence of their success generally came in financial, easily quantifiable and comparable terms. This year\u2019s applicants, on the other hand, excelled in ways that were not only more strategic in nature but also harder to quantify and compare. Many even introduced social and ethical benefits into the equation. Which has greater value: a system that earns a company billions in new revenue or one that helps a government organization protect the environment? It\u2019s questions like that that made this year\u2019s judges\u2019 jobs so hard. "Value is much more multifaceted than we might have given it credit for several years ago," says judge John Glaser, vice president and CIO of Partners HealthCare System in Boston. "What we find is that value has been extended, often on the part of nonprofit and government organizations, to social improvement, the improvement of the health and knowledge of the citizenry as a whole. We also find value related to the education of the workforce, to managing relationships in a broader sense with a set of key constituencies."IT value takes so many forms today; trying to compare and rank them is a brutally tough task. But that\u2019s just what we did, over a period of roughly four months. Beginning in June, CIO editors, along with a review board of seven IT practitioners and consultants, reviewed 42 entries from organizations in a wide range of industries. To make it to the next level, the applicants\u2019 systems had to have been deployed for at least two years, and the applicants had to demonstrate the benefits of those systems for the entire enterprise. After several weeks, the team had narrowed the field to 10 finalists. During the next few weeks, review board members conducted in-depth examinations of the finalists to better understand how they used the nominated systems. The review board grilled business users about the value the systems brought to their organizations and pressed executives to justify the results they claimed on their applications. Among the criteria considered were the systems\u2019 strategic, customer, financial, operational and social impacts.The examination process is always rigorous and demanding for all involved, but this year the tragedies of Sept. 11 intervened to make it even more difficult. In the weeks following that catastrophic day, appointments for interviews, meetings and site visits had to be rescheduled or sometimes canceled, and it was up to our review board members to get the information they needed however they could."It was very tough," notes Richard W. Swanborg, president of Boston-based research group ICEX and Enterprise Value Awards cochair (with CIO Editor in Chief Abbie Lundberg). "The review board worked exceptionally well at dealing with these challenges, and the final outcome was a judging event that had as much integrity as in past years."Despite all the chaos, the final judging took place at the Vault Boardroom at the Boston Stock Exchange in late September, as planned. At the daylong event, review board members gave detailed presentations about the finalists they had examined. Our four judges then debated the merits of these finalists, weighing and comparing their respective benefits and impact both within and outside the organization. In the end, they selected five winners of the 2002 Enterprise Value Awards."It was an incredible pool of very impressive applications, so it was really hard to choose," says judge Doug Barker, vice president and CIO for The Nature Conservancy in Arlington, Va. "I think those that differentiated themselves as winners were those that were truly brilliant in some way. They weren\u2019t just taking technology and applying it to a business process in a straightforward way; they were fundamentally changing business propositions and adding tremendous value to the whole value proposition chain."CIO\u2019s Enterprise Value Awards are among the most rigorous in the industry, and they are certainly unique for the way they recognize truly outstanding applications of information technology to create real business value. It\u2019s a testament to the value of these winning systems as well as the dedication of our judging team that this year\u2019s awards process was completed on schedule and in strict adherence with our traditional, unyielding standard of quality. We extend our deepest thanks to everyone involved.