UPDATE 18 March 2015: I wrote this piece for the inaugural 2014 InstallAwards, and have revisited it for 2015.
Now that entries for the InstallAwards have opened, I want to share with you some of the thinking behind them. After all, there are other awards events in the industry – so why did Installation thrown its hat into the ring last year?
Simply put, it's because we think we can bring something different to the awards process. When we set about devising the categories for the InstallAwards, we were keen to come up with a way of recognising all the factors that go into a successful installation. Of course, the overall design of the installation is particularly important – the way the different elements are selected and made to work together is at the heart of what integrators do. So recognising best projects in our various categories was an obvious starting point.
We also wanted to involve manufacturers in the awards process. But how do you compare, say, a 64 x 64 matrix switch against a 64-channel audio console? Well, one way to do it is to judge them in the context of the projects in which they are used: why was this particular model selected? What are the unique characteristics that this installation shows off? Also, by looking at what's being selected and installed currently, reliable workhorse products get considered as well as those that are currently being spotlighted by marketing departments. Plus, by looking at how well projects are served by single products, we have a means whereby projects of different sizes can be compared on a more equal footing.
But system designs have to take physical shape, and that requires the input of many different people: consultants, acousticians, product specialists, programmers and others. And then there are the unexpected problems that can crop up mid-project and require creative thinking and possibly calling in the odd favour to solve. So we're also recognising the best example of teamwork among the projects that are submitted.
And then there's the voting procedure. Public votes are all well and good for creating a buzz around an awards event, but they're surely more of a measure of a company's marketing clout and networking ability than about the quality of its products, or their suitability for any given application. We prefer to recruit judges from all around the industry, and invite them to cast their votes. Apart from two special awards – Outstanding Achievement and Grand Prix, the winners of which we select ourselves – we don't get involved at all. We keep the judges' names secret up to the end of the judging process, to shield them from external influences, and publish their names once the awards have been presented.
So there you have it. We believe that the InstallAwards offer a different way of recognising and rewarding excellence across a wide variety of installation projects, job roles and technologies - using a process that is objective and transparent. Don't miss your opportunity to take part: entries close on Friday 13 March, and tickets to the awards event, which takes place on 4 June, are on sale now.