Technologists, take a bow, as the Express IT Awards, the flagship event of The Express Group celebrating excellence of companies and individuals from India’s cutting-edge technology space, enters its fifth year. And going by the increasing number of companies putting in their nominations, the grand finale this year promises to be a swell event — the number of entries by companies for the first time has surpassed 500. So brace up for a plethora of surprises under the watchful gaze of the chief guest, none other than NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, a major policy wonk and a key driver of a slew of initiatives such as ‘Make in India’ and ‘Startup India’ that positioned the country as a leading manufacturing destination. To keep up with the changing times, the Express IT Awards has ushered in some changes in the category of awards. For the first time, the ‘digital’ category has been introduced as this has become a trending theme for the IT industry countrywide and the rush of nominations too vouch for its popularity. However, the dominant theme for the Express IT Awards since its inception in 2013 has always been innovation, consistently witnessing the highest number of entries. Scrutinising the achievements of the companies is no easy task. Over the years, the knowledge partner for the Express IT Awards, PwC, has admirably sifted through the entries to prepare the final shortlist of the jury panel. This year, the panel, comprising Rajan Anandan, Sharad Sharma, S Sadagopan, Ravi Gururaj and Umang Bedi, had the onerous task of deciding the winners who would make the final cut across the nine categories.
And needless to say, the bar is always set high in terms of selecting the winners. In fact, in one particular year, the award was given only in the ‘silver’ category as nobody could claim stake to the ‘gold’. In essence, the jury felt that no one came close to the gold standard. At the Express IT Awards, expect nothing short of the best in class IT companies vying for algorithmic supremacy. Apart from behemoths amid past winners, such as Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, Cisco, SAP and IBM, the awards have thrown up hidden gems too. They have given smaller companies the much-needed platform to ‘Express’ themselves. Keeping in line with the ever evolving facet of the Indian IT industry, even the e-commerce space and the software products segments were brought into the fold. The Flipkarts, Olas, Paytms and Oyos and their ilk have rightfully competed and won awards. Over the years, the awards have not just recognised technology companies but also the outstanding individuals who made their lifelong contribution to the industry. The portals of these awards have witnessed the presence of doyens of the industry such as NR Narayana Murthy, S Ramadorai, Nandan Nilekani and Ashok Soota. The Express IT Awards also recognises the luminaries of companies who have reported outstanding contribution in a particular year. Past winners in the ‘Newsmaker’ category are N Chandrasekaran, the then CEO of TCS, Cognizant CEO Francisco D’Souza, Hike founder Kavin Mittal and former Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka. The Express IT Awards also serves as a seminal point for discussion, debate and thought leadership. As Nandan Nilekani had observed in his keynote address: “Much like the internet and GPS, which were initiated by public spending and resulted in the creation of multi-billion dollar companies, Aadhaar might be able to do the same.” Lest we forget, the Express IT Awards has always received unstinting support from the government, be it the Centre or the state. As Union IT minister Ravishankar Prasad, who was the chief guest in 2015, elaborating on the government’s digital plans, said, “India is waiting for an explosion in IT.” For 2016, the chief guest was the then Union commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman. “India’s digital prowess will strengthen the economy. India cannot become a superpower with 50% of the economy running on cash,” she declared. Come December 7, once again, the Express IT Awards 2017 will continue with its tradition of honouring the best in technology keeping in line with meritocracy.