No-Show Day Two

If anything, day two of the Construction Computing 2007 show was worse than day one. Thankfully, the day was shorter – 10am to 3pm – but several exhibitors voted with their feet long before the end. Indeed, my BIW colleague and I were packed up and ready to leave by 3pm, and we walked past stands already vacated by other exhibitors (including our fellow NCCTP members and ITCF IT Partners 4Projects and Asite). I doubt there were even 100 visitors today; only a few seminars were run (I didn’t bother with mine); and most exhibitors I spoke to had no intention of returning next year.

Construction Computing Awards 2007

Those who went to the Construction Computing Awards dinner (see previous post) last night tell me that this year’s comedian was good …. (Update (23 November): I see 4Projects is quite happy about its award for e-commerce product of the year. Other successful diners include Causeway, RedSky IT and IFS.)

[Update (28 November) – After a heated debate through the comments area of this blog with Awards organiser Stuart Leigh, I have removed a personal perspective – the “….” – (albeit one shared by several other people) about the awards and made some minor amendments to a couple of other posts. I had wanted to stimulate a debate about the merits of online voting versus judges in deciding industry awards, but Stuart regarded my comments as defamatory. To terminate an increasingly acrimonious correspondence, I reluctantly decided to make the changes he requested.]

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  1. I read your comments about this/last’s years awards ceremony and felt I had (the right) to reply.
    Whilst your comments regarding the exhibition made painful reading the same CANNOT be said of the awards. Firstly, you [made statements about] Roy Walker, last years comedian. …. I have worked with Roy on FOUR different awards evening and he has been a true pro and a majority of clients have had nothing but good to say about him. No other person/company complained about Roy last year. Your remarks are wrong and defamatory and I would advise you take your personal opinion off your website [the comment has now been removed].
    On to this year, I take great exception to your remarks about the awards, it’s an insult to the marketing efforts of the companies who won awards and your accusation of selling awards isn’t true. I can understand you not understanding the way an awards ceremony works but your comment just make you sound like a bad loser. Autodesk won an award and didn’t attend, as was the same with Sun Micro Systems. Other winners included HP, Canon, Bentley, The Content Group, Causeway, Sir Robert McAlpine, Excitech, RedSkyIT & IFS. Can you honestly say these companies 1) Didn’t deserve to win their respective categories and 2) Don’t know how to market their database effectively.
    All votes were cast online and no votes were accepted from web address such as Hotmail and only one vote per IP address was rigidly enforced, otherwise companies such as HP would have won every category. The only category not picked by the most votes was the Editors Choice and David Chadwick chose Canon. Canon is a world leader in imaging products.
    Judging by the positive comments I recieved on the evening and in writing since, this years awards (the Hammers II) were a resounding success and I am eagerly looking forward to the Hammers III.
    I would respectfully ask to remove your comments or at least give me this right to reply. I wouldn’t dream of putting unsubstantiated remarks on ANY of our websites without at least checking their factual accuracy, something you would have been well advised to do before adding your comments to your website.
    Stuart Leigh
    Publishing Director
    Construction Computing Magazine
    01689 616000

  2. Stuart, I’ve plainly touched a raw nerve!
    1. In discussing last year’s comedian above, it is clear that I am reporting the view of someone else. While you may not have had complaints after last year, I certainly know several attendees who hold similar opinions to me.
    2. Bad loser? To be a loser implies that we were even competing! BIW didn’t nominate itself and did no marketing to support the awards.
    3. I spoke to two award-winners who both said they expected to win awards following their support for the exhibition and dinner – I paraphrased the remarks of one of them. OK, maybe they didn’t buy an award as such, but they clearly expected to get some return on their investment.
    4. You talk about only allowing single votes from particular IP addresses, but this still leaves the awards open to organized campaigns from shortlisted companies urging their users to vote for them – to use your words, they “market their database effectively”. However, if this is how the results are decided, the award winners are clearly NOT, as your website claims: “elected by the readership of Construction Computing Magazine”. To avoid any suspicions of manipulation, how about publishing some independently audited voting figures? If you persist with the online voting approach, it could even become a good feature for any future awards “… in second place, with 345 votes was….”
    5. OK, so two firms not present at the dinner won awards. The cynical marketeer in me would suggest that making awards to big names like Autodesk and Sun helps you market the awards. There will be a bit of reflected glory for other winners in featuring alongside such well-known names, and you will probably be hoping that, encouraged by an award this year, these big names will be investing some of their substantial marketing budgets in tables at a future event.
    6. is a blog – a personal web log – and is therefore very much about personal opinions. I will amend a couple of posts to make it clear that my observations were subjective. Otherwise, I have faithfully reported the opinions of others – they may not be factual, but they are at least honestly-held opinions.
    7. As for “putting unsubstantiated remarks on … websites without … checking their factual accuracy, something you would have been well advised to do before adding your comments to your website,” I reject that. As just discussed, I am conveying some genuine opinions. You may not like those opinions, you may regard them as inaccurate, but you cannot deny that people have the right to express them.
    I have been supportive of the Construction Computing Show in my posts about the event over the past couple of years, but this year’s event was a big disappointment to me, to BIW and to numerous other exhibitors. While I have not been as supportive of the Awards, I did try to be constructive – suggesting that you a) run them with a more conventional panel of judges making decisions based on entry submissions, and b) include a specific category for construction collaboration technologies, for example. I am not convinced that online box-ticking is an appropriate way for people to vote for award-winners. Many voters:
    • may know little about some of the categories of hardware and software
    • may know nothing about some of the shortlisted candidates
    • will often have little or no direct experience of some of the tools (at least not enough to make an informed judgement)
    I am not convinced that this is the best way to run a well-respected awards programme.

  3. You haven’t touched any raw nerves at all. I just don’t understand why you continue to be so critical of something you have very little knowledge of. I didn’t want to go down this route but your misleading comments have to be answered. I have replied to your numbered ill informed ramblings in sequence.
    1) Roy Walker was not [deleted*]. I would urge you to remove this piece of liable before his solicitor contacts you.
    2) Whichever way you represent this it looks bad on you. You didn’t even bother to let your clients know that you had been nominated. worst of all, showed complete contempt for the people that nominated you.
    3) Your two award winning colleagues can expect what they want, the reality is they won fair and square based on the amount of votes. Most of the winners were told they were winners a couple of days before hand. This can be the only way they could have ‘expected’ to win. Last year, you came close to winning an award but at no time did I tell you that you had narrowly missed out, just that you had done well. I remember your disappointment. What has changed from last year to this?
    4) I am happy to get next years figures audited, this would of course mean a raise in table prices as this of course would mean extra costs attached to the awards. We actively encourage finalists to market their database, we then contact anybody not receiving a copy of the magazine and ask them if they would like to. If this commercial enterprise is offensive to you, I can only apologise in advance.
    5) Autodesk are the largest supplier of CAD software in the world. Does it really surprise you that they won an award? Yes we would like to grow the awards into a bigger event but I can’t help which companies get nominated and ultimately win. The bottom line is that if we were to rig the awards, Bentley & APC (Construction Computing’s biggest advertisers) would have won several awards, as opposed the one between them.
    6) Personal opinions are the bedrock of our society until they become libelous. Everything you have written in your original ‘opinion’ makes me look like dishonest and your reply indicates I am a liar. The truth of the matter is, me and my team have worked very hard to provide companies like yourself an event where excellence is rewarded, it was also our hope that the Hammers would become a networking event where manufacturers and the channel would meet. We have achieved this on the Storage Awards where we have over 350 guests and in the five years we have been running we have NEVER had our integrity doubted.
    7) You are fully entitle to express an opinion but in my opinion you have gone overboard. I’ve already covered this in points 5 & 6. There was nothing constructive in suggesting firstly, that we sold awards and secondly questioning our integrity.
    It’s interesting that in your opinion you think a panel of judges would be the way forward. We decided from the first awards we did that, a panel would be perceived as rigging the awards. Imagine if we had a editor, publisher, a couple of association members. I’ll guarantee you that if a member of the aforementioned association were selected there would be howls of fix, even if it were the best product on the market.
    On a personal note, I am saddened that you have been so critical of the awards when they were set up with the best intentions, 2 of your own NCCTP members were thrilled with their wins. If you really don’t think the awards are up to much, can I suggest that you just ignore next years event and should you be nominated, I will give you the option of whether or not you want to be involved in anyway.
    Once again, I respectfully ask you to remove the negative remarks about the awards as they are incorrect and potentially damaging.
    Stuart Leigh
    Construction Computing
    [* deleted by Paul Wilkinson in line with Stuart’s request]

  4. Stuart
    After more than 20 years in construction marketing, I can assure you that I have quite extensive knowledge of awards programmes – as an entrant, a judge, an event organizer and, most recently, as a category sponsor.
    To respond to your sometimes offensive remarks:
    1. Plainly, the threat of legal action is one I cannot ignore, I have withdrawn those personal opinions (PS: the correct spelling is ‘libel’) and I will also edit your comments accordingly.
    2. In consultation with the BIW chief executive, we made a business decision not to devote BIW resources to promoting the awards. Your suggestion that I “showed complete contempt for the people that nominated you” is simply wrong and incredibly offensive. We have utmost respect for our customers and end-users, and on this occasion we took a decision not to use our relationships with them to market ourselves, the awards or subscriptions to ‘Construction Computing’ magazine.
    3. I simply reported the perspectives of other people as given to me – they did not detail how their expectation was arrived at.
    4. I think audited figures would be a positive step forward and could be turned into a good differentiator for the event.
    5. Of course, it’s no surprise that Autodesk should win an award.
    6. I apologise if you feel my comments portrayed you in a bad light, Stuart. I was simply seeking to reflect the perspectives offered by people who spoke to me last Thursday. With the benefit of hindsight, it might have been better to talk to you direct about what I heard people saying. Their opinions, I believe, were honestly held and, even if inaccurate, indicate that at least these few people wanted greater certainty about how the awards were decided.
    7. see point 6.
    On the judges panel point: a large number of awards in the construction industry are decided by panels of judges, organizers will strive to ensure the panels’ independence, and most judges I have met have also been extremely conscientious about their independence – often excluding themselves from deliberations involving any candidate with which they have any associations.
    As I said in September, industry awards are an excellent opportunity to promote the great and good in the industry, to network and entertain, and to instigate and support other marketing and PR initiatives. As hinted in point 6 above, I, and others, remain to be convinced that online voting is the best way to decide upon industry awards.
    Nonetheless, if the Construction Computing Awards persist with this approach then it should perhaps be made clearer that candidates may run campaigns to win votes for themselves. A minor point remains: the awards are not decided by the “readers of Construction Computing magazine” (some voters may later become readers, but at the time of the awards such individuals – reached thanks to the database marketing of the candidates – were not readers per se). If these points are addressed next year, I will be happy to support Hammers III.
    This correspondence is now closed.

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