CIPA Awards cancelled, but not for good

The Canadian Information Productivity Awards will stay on the shelves for another year, but its founder vows the ceremony will return.

The cancellation of the 2009 edition was confirmed by Norm Kirkpatrick, president and CEO of the CIPA Awards Gala. This makes it two years in a row for the long-standing IT awards program.

“Due to the declining economy, most companies have either frozen or dramatically constrained their sponsorship budgets,” Kirkpatrick said. “CIPA relies primarily on sponsorships from corporate companies in the IT sector.”

He added that the awards have been suspended until either the economy recovers or CIPA can examine an alternative way to operate the ceremony. One of these alternatives could be to run the awards virtually over the Internet, Kirkpatrick said.

“It’s definitely not cancelled forever,” Kirkpatrick said. “Like other programs in the country, we’re just suspending the program and waiting for our sponsors to return.”

The CIPA Awards will return in the future, he added.

“I think all sectors of the economy are suffering the strain from a lack of confidence,” Kirkpatrick said. “Particularly in the technology sector, it’s a lack of confidence, not a lack of innovation or productivity that is the problem.”

The awards, founded in the early 1990s, are billed as a celebration of IT and innovation implementation excellence in Canada. The award honours those that have successfully used technology to increase productivity within their companies and have implemented best practices that can be admired by other IT shops.

The gala’s flagship prize is the Diamond Award of Excellence for both a profit and non-profit companies. This is given to the IT project deemed “best in show.”

Another notable award is the CIO of the Year, last won by Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) CIO Hugh Kelly in 2007. Other recent winners include GlaxoSmithKline Inc. CIO Sav DiPasquale in 2006 and former University Health Network CIO Matthew Anderson in 2005.

Vito Mabrucco, the managing director IDC Canada Ltd. and a member of the national judging panel at the CIPA Awards, said that while the 2008 cancellation had more to do with “reformatting and restructuring” the event, this year’s postponement was unavoidable due to the recession.

He added that because technological achievements are often overlooked in the mainstream media, an event that champions technology and the achievement of IT professionals is crucial.

“The end user community really gets a kick out of celebrating something that they put their time and money into,” he said. “The end users themselves as a group can’t really come together in this way. But the industry can and we can bring those end users into that discussion.”

Mabrucco echoed Kirkpatrick’s sentiment and assured Canadian IT professionals that the awards will return in some format. He added that the awards might show up under a slightly different name and format, but would return nonetheless.

“There is not disagreement that some kind of IT productivity awards program is going to return,” he said.

Mabrucco added that working with partners such as Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATAAlliance) and Information Technology Association of Canada would be important to speeding up the process and getting the awards back on track.

“(These organizations) will be a partner in this and that will help because you need to get the force of the industry as a whole behind these awards,” he said. “You need to get the funding, the momentum and the engagement behind it.”

“This important activity that should be undertaken by the industry,” Mabrucco added.

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