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Awards: The STORY around the STORRIES (Stuart Leigh from BTC interview part two)

February 25, 2010

The STORRIES has always been a bit of a mystery for the Countdown team. Not from not understanding the value of awards such as these, but as to whether start-ups and other innovative storage companies looking to establish themselves would be able to stand their own in the competition. The nominations come from the industry itself and the companies themselves, so at first glance it seems that companies lacking a pre-established base of loyal customers and vibrant, mobilized channel partners may not stand a chance of winning.

Anyway, as part of a strategy to better understand the process, we were also keen to get some tips on how to make this happen.  So we hooked up with Mr STORRIES himself, Stuart Leigh of BTC.

COUNTDOWN 2 STORAGE EXPO: Stuart, we’ve always found the STORRIES somewhat of a “black art” as to how to get the recognition for some of our customers. It seems that the big storage players, such as EMC and NetApp, can pretty much win just by all their UK-based employees and channel players voting for them, without any real end-user recognition. Can you help us address this concern?

SL: Obviously, if anyone just voted for themselves, it isn’t going to be enough to make them a winner. We’d be surprised if companies didn’t vote for themselves.

CD2SE: So perhaps you can help us see how the voting and then recognition of those votes works?

SL: Of course, it is very strict. Anyone can vote for anyone, so company employees can vote for themselves; but we’d be looking for greater recognition than that, of course. We do make restrictions – only one vote per IP Address and no votes are accepted from gmail, yahoo, aol, hotmail or msn accounts. Basically, votes must come from a corporate email address.

CD2SE: What’s the volume of nominations like?

SL: Pretty impressive. We get around 20,000 votes from around 6,000 of our readers, so averaging 3.5 votes each.

CD2SE: What’s the most voted-for category?

SL: Without a doubt, Best Backup Software. It receives around a third of the votes and is by far and away the most fiercely contested award

CD2SE: Obviously these aren’t just product- or company-focused awards; there are also end-user project focused awards, correct?

SL: Yes, these are always our favourites as you get to see the “real-world” aspect of the technology: the real value and business benefits. These MUST be supported by a case study, and we really prefer to see the channel role as well as the vendor’s technology showcased  in these

CD2SE: Thanks for your insights into how STORRIES voting works. Of course, the highlight or climax of the Awards is the Awards night itself.

SL: Now that we’ll be running this for the seventh time, we’ve got a great sense of its value and of course the winners are over the moon on the night, but even that isn’t its real USP for people. It really is a valuable networking event for the industry. One of our Awards Night attendees last year said he’d done more business there than he had during the rest of the year. Awards Night is where the vendors meet the channel players and they all hang out with end users and technology partners: so who knows what can happen!

CD2SE: We were amazed by the reasonably priced sponsorship packages. Is this another demonstration of the principle of making the awards achievable for the smaller as well as the bigger players?

SL: Yes, we find it works extremely well. Basically, to sponsor a category we just ask for a table plus £500. And that means companies can make the decision quite easily.

Well of course the team here is now strategizing about how we can get our vendors to the event to pick up their respective prizes. However, here’s a little of our thinking and advice based on our chat with Stuart

– Don’t enter the backup software award unless you’re CA (or you can mobilize a staggering community to your cause)

– Get all your community voting for you. All UK-based employees, your channel partners, your end users (yes, we do need to think of this as a campaign), plus all your suppliers, your PR team, your advertising agency and any others who’d be happy to share.

– Remember this is a game of two parts, so you’ll need to make a push for nomination and then for the winning from the shortlist.

– Enter your projects, especially if it’s with a big company (after all, they should surely vote for their own great work) and remember that your entry must be supported by a channel angle, which again will raise the voting for you

– Find a way to mobilize those unused votes. There are lots of categories, and if a lot of people only vote on a couple of the categories, maybe you can persuade them as non-competing partners to vote for you in your category. I’m thinking about joined-up channel strategy and really working with your technology partners to support one another

– And last but by no means least, enjoy! For the winners – well done. And for those who didn’t quite make it, there is always next year and there is plenty of networking to be done, so you can still be a winner on the night even if you don’t pick up an award.

For more information on awards, please visit BTC’s website –www.storage-awards.com or email Stuart directly on stuart.leigh@btc.co.uk.

We look forward to seeing you on the night!

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