OPINION: Why I love the CWHK awards

The sixteenth edition of the Computerworld Hong Kong Awards rocked the Excelsior Hotel last Friday night. Its Marina Room was packed with IT luminaries on Friday—networking, reminiscing and laughing. Our regional content manager finally got everyone to sit down by tapping a wineglass next to the podium microphone, sending loud pings through the PA system.

Emcee Jefferson Mendoza was his usual suave self. I gave a speech and spoke “Cantonese” which no one understood, and managed to misplace the final page while shuffling papers with my sweaty meathooks. Next time: use an iPad, said my tech-savvy table-mates.

But no one cared as the entertainment—a pair of can-can dancers—soon burst into the room. Wikipedia says “the can-can is a high-energy, physically demanding dance that became a popular music hall dance in the 1840s...the main features of the dance are the vigorous manipulation of skirts and petticoats, along with high kicks, splits, and cartwheels.”

High-energy, yes indeed. The dancers raced around the tables performing moves like the high kick (battement) and port d'armes (turning on one leg, while grasping the other leg by the ankle and holding it almost vertically). One of them practically took out CIO Connect's Peter Smith with a rond de jambe...no, I'm kidding, these women were expert.

“It has become common practice for dancers to scream and yelp while performing the can-can,” says Wikipedia, and yes they did. Once they'd finished their dance (onstage, to rapt applause), Mendoza returned and—with the help of prize-presenters from the Hong Kong ICT community—revealed the winners of the 2018 CWHK Awards.

Super sixteen
I was at the first CWHK Awards in 2002, and much has changed in sixteen years. The back-cover advertisement in that issue was for a state-of-the-art PDA. One of our employees saw me looking at it in the office and said: “What is THAT?!?”

In my pocket at that time: the indestructible Nokia 3310. No one knew what terms like “app” or “selfie” meant. In 2002 we gave awards for some services, but the majority were for hardware and software.

Nowadays, some of those original award-categories remain, but increasingly, tech firms are moving towards service-models. There's the “XaaS” offerings, but cybersecurity (just to name one) is no longer about buying an appliance and configuring it—our current threat landscape is dynamic and clients want some variant of security-as-a-service.

For years, mobile telephony was not considered an enterprise-level technology, but of course that's now changed. Another example: between them, 1O1O and HKT scooped up four awards this year.

Tech Companies of the Year
Computerworld Hong Kong gave its first Tech Company of the Year award in 2007, but former editor Chee Sing Chan and myself started discussing the option over a year earlier. We were fortunate to have support from the community in the form of judging panels this year for what is now a pair of TCoY Awards: Startup, and Mature.

Homegrown AI company SenseTime won in the Startup category. The Mature award went to PCCW Solutions, whose managing director Ramez Younan accepted the award, and gave a short speech. Younan did something I've never heard at a CWHK awards ceremony before: he thanked his firm's competitors, saying they served as motivation.

There was plenty of motivation at the Excelsior Friday night, and a good time was had by all. Congratulations to the winners!