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Winning solutions

The MCA eBusiness Awards seek to recognise innovation in ICT, says Nicholas Vella, project coordinator, Malta Communications Authority.

Nicholas Vella

Nicholas Vella

The eBusiness Awards are now in their fifth edition. What changes are you introducing this year?

From one edition of the awards to the next, we try to keep tabs on the local ICT scene so as to ensure that the award categories chosen are relevant and that we attract a critical mass of nominations. For this year’s edition of the eBusiness Awards, we have introduced two new categories: enterprise resource planning and digital entertainment.

This year, we have also simplified the nomination form with the intention of making the nominating process easier. Moreover, we have rebranded the awards and have also commissioned new trophy design.

Who is eligible to apply for the eBusiness Awards?

The awards are open to private enterprises, civil society organisations and national government organisations which made use of web-based technologies in solutions that fall under one of the seven categories for this year. These categories award the best eGov initiative, e-commerce site, business-to-business application, app, use of social media, ERP solution and digital entertainment solution.

Although the main focus of these awards is e-business, they also recognise the use of ICT in initiatives that may promote issues having a social awareness nature. For instance, last year we had a nomination under the social media category promoting the Movember campaign, which sought to raise awareness about testicular and prostate cancer, encouraged medical check-ups and raised funds for the campaign. To give you a second example from another category, in the best app category we also received a nomination for an app that alerts bathers about the presence of jellyfish in bays according to certain meteorological conditions.

We also dedicate an award to the best academic project for University students who conduct research work via their dissertation or other academic work with an eBusiness theme – the adjudication of this category is carried out directly by the University.

In order to be eligible a nominee must satisfy at least one of two conditions: the solution provider or owner must be based in Malta, or the solution must be specifically targeted at the Maltese market. Also, solutions designed to carry out e-commerce activities must satisfy the code of conduct. Solutions which are still in beta format by the closing date of the nomination period, which is September 6, are not accepted for adjudication. Of course, past winning solutions cannot be nominated either.

While accolades are important, what other roles do the eBusiness Awards play?

Coming up to the fifth edition, the eBusiness Awards is now a well-established, unique annual event of its kind in Malta because it is the only award locally that acknowledges the effective integration of ICT applications in the entrepreneurial efforts of individuals and organisations.

Owners or the management of software development companies look for ways to reward their hardworking staff – the awards give them the opportunity to recognise the efforts of individuals and strengthen the cohesion of the team. Businesses can also use the awards to gauge how they stack up against their competitors.

Past winners have reported that the awards helped their business standing in the sector

From a marketing perspective, the awards are a channel to showcase solutions on the market. In fact, past winners have reported that the awards helped their business standing in the sector. The event night also facilitates networking among the people working in the ICT sector.

In the eBusiness Awards, you seek to award the best app and the best use of social media. How is the local business community embracing both technologies?

Social media is revolutionary and disruptive. Worldwide, the statistics are staggering: Facebook attracts 1.32 billion users every month, two new members join LinkedIn every second, and 93 per cent of marketers worldwide user social media for business. Locally, a study conducted by software company Icon shows how two out of three respondents confirmed the use of social media to market their business while one in four who at that time were not using social media said they have an intention to do so in the near future.

The study, entitled Social Media Marketing in Malta (2014), also shows that 80 per cent of respondents believe that social media benefits their company through greater visibility while the great majority of respondents now perceive social media to be more important than it was in 2011.

Locally, the app market is also growing. In fact, we always receive an encouraging number of nominations for the best app category.

As part of the eBusiness Awards, you have also included a category for the best eGov initiative. What is the role of Government in using technology to provide a quality service to individuals and businesses?

The scope behind this award is to give recognition to the efforts of any government entity that implements web-based solutions to provide improved government interaction with citizens, businesses and other government entities.

Technology also plays a very important role in entertainment. Do you also award entertainment solutions?

Digital entertainment has grown into an industry in itself and now there are developers which dedicate considerable part of their effort to cater for the digital entertainment market. Hence it was felt appropriate to introduce a category to recognise the efforts of those who have developed some form of digital entertainment and possibly encourage more activity in this field.

The first thing that comes to mind when talking about digital entertainment is gaming. However, while gaming is a key output of the sector, there are other forms of digital entertainment. For this category, the adjudication team members will be looking into aspects such as user interface experience, creativity and back-end elements including user accessibility and site response time.

Who will judge the entries and on what criteria?

The adjudication committee is composed of seven members coming from diverse fields, in order to ensure a good mix of competencies and objectivity in the adjudication process of each nomination. These include members of the academia, represented by the faculty of ICT at the University of Malta, the industry, represented by the Malta Chamber of Commerce and GRTU, the Network Information Centre (Malta), the national digital champion, an MCA representative as well as a Government representative.

Every award category is judged according to a set of criteria specifically designed for it. Of course there are a number of horizontal elements that cut across most categories: innovation, user experience, efficiency gains and value added, for instance, are desirable elements in all categories.

For more information visit www.mca.org.mt/ebiz-awards.

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