PTC Awards Committee Chair and Judge
OK. This post is not really about how to win the PTC Awards 2023, which are decided by a global panel of distinguished judges. However, it does provide guidelines on how not to disqualify your organization by making common mistakes that we’ve seen over the past few years.
But first, some background on the PTC Awards. The PTC Awards program, formerly known as the PTC Innovation Awards, was created in 2017 and launched at PTC’18, to increase visibility for those companies and individuals making a substantial impact on various facets of our industry, in business segments such as: satellite, submarine, wireline, wireless, applications, cloud, edge, data center, colocation, and interconnection. Regardless of segment, there are also awards for an outstanding product or service or customer experience innovation, or structural or technological transformation, and start-up. Also regardless of segment, there is a special PTC Vision and Mission Award intended to recognize a global leader each year that has demonstrated meaningful alignment with PTC through real impact. Finally, because nothing happens without people, there are Leadership Awards to recognize achievements by C-level executives, female executives, diversity and inclusion achievements, and leaders of tomorrow.
The awards categories, evaluation criteria, and judging methodology have evolved over the past few years, thanks to the PTC Secretariat (especially Sharon Nakama, Nicole Fuertes, Jason O’Rourke, and Grace Lo), and the PTC Awards Committee: Tricia Paoletta (past chair), Gary Kim, Jeff Seal, and Paul Lawler. In addition, feedback from the judges has been key, as well as continuous improvement based on the pattern of submissions each year and PTC member priorities.
The categories, criteria, and submission process are laid out succinctly on the PTC Awards 2023 page. However, here are the recurring issues to pay attention to:
- Plans, Rather Than Results. Personally, I plan to win Powerball in the very near future. Sadly, my results to date have been less than stellar. 50% of the PTC Awards score is based on quantitative and qualitative impact. That means that we want to recognize actual achievements for the business, not plans for coming years or current investments that may have future payoffs. Real results might include anything from accelerated revenue growth to dramatic subscriber growth to enhanced customer or employee satisfaction.
- Internal, Rather Than External. Internal results – such as implementing an agile framework or a reduction in supply chain costs or cycle time for a process step – can be perfectly worthwhile. However, external impacts such as lives saved, improved connectivity to remote islands, better linkages between hospitals and patients, more children educated, or customer journey improvements tend to be more compelling.
- Lack of PTC Alignment. Another 25% of the score is based on alignment with PTC’s vision and mission. Every year, however, we get submissions that include a copy-and-paste of the entrant’s vision or mission from their web page or annual report, with either a nonexistent or spurious attempt to link it to the actual PTC vision and mission. Consequently, we get, in effect, write-ups that say “Our vision is to create the tastiest french fries” (nonexistent alignment) or, “Our mission is to advance the ethical development and use of information and communication technologies by creating the tastiest french fries” (spurious linkage). Help us judges clearly understand how what you have done has led to impact that is aligned with PTC’s vision and mission. A strong response should not just parrot (“uh, sure, we believe in that too”) PTC’s vision and mission, but must provide meaningful proof points regarding alignment with the vision and mission.
- Too Many Attachments. If there is supporting documentation regarding your impact, such as a signed letter from the head of a government testifying to how your emergency wireless or satellite deployment saved lives after a natural disaster or during a pandemic, then we’d certainly love to see it. However, please don’t attach every glossy brochure that your marketing department has developed over the years. The judges have to review well over 100 submissions, and so the supporting material must be useful and compelling, for example, showing a map of deployments or a picture of a deployment – things for which text entries alone are insufficient.
- Lack of Clarity. Sometimes entrants tend to put qualitative results in the quantitative impact section, or vice versa, or repeat the results in both sections. Or, it isn’t clear what exactly their business is or how an initiative led to impactful, aligned results. Each judge has their own areas of expertise, and it might not be your industry segment, or your particular company. You need to clearly explain what you do, what your competitive edge is, what your results are, etc., because the judges have limited time to review and score each entry. Your elevator pitch shouldn’t just say “We introduced Product Y or Service X,” but what it is, what it does, why this is important, why it is different than the competition or the prior art, why it was a challenge, etc.”
- Lack of Meaningful Differentiation. Almost all entrants are organizations or individuals that have a successful track record of growth, profitability, leadership, and impact, or promise to in the near future. Sadly, in each category there can only be one winner in any given year. In a way, this is like the Olympics or the Oscars. There are many entrants in each category and we wish we could recognize all of you. However, there can only be one Gold Medal in any given event and only one Best Picture, etc. Sometimes, an event is clearly won by a mile, and sometimes only by a 1/100th of a second. It helps the judges if there is a really compelling achievement that helps you pull away from the pack.
As I remind my kids all the time, “I’m saying this because I love you and I want the best for you.” Similarly, on behalf of the Secretariat, the PTC Awards Committee, and the judges, we want the best for you. We applaud your leadership, innovation, initiatives, and achievements and welcome and appreciate your participation in the awards process. If you have any additional questions, please email email@example.com. Good luck!