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Wellington IT Savvy Takes Awards

29 June 2002

Four successful Wellington-based IT projects have been recognised with top places at the fifth annual Computerworld Excellence Awards, held in Auckland last night (Friday June 28). The awards honour the achievers behind some of New Zealand's most innovative IT projects, from government through to education, B2B and B2C and customer service.

The TAB struck the winning double in the Awards, taking out two awards, including one acknowledging a hot favourite New Zealand website.

The TAB's website, which provides access to more than 300 races and 200 sports betting options and regularly ranks in the top ten most frequently accessed sites, won the Excellence in e-business B2C award, while its JetBet II project, with 300,000 Phonebet accounts and 600 retail outlets, took out the Most Successful Project Implementation of the year.

Jetbet II clinched the top place due to an excellent stakeholder communication plan covering all likely eventualities and the severe consequences to the business in the event of failure, according to the judges.

Jetbet II is an operational system considered the "brain" of the whole TAB operation. The software takes bets at each of 600 retail outlets including TAB outlets, racecourses and hotels, plus 300,000 Phonebet Accounts. The project required a rewrite of parts of the system and a migration from a Concurrent environment to Windows NT without disruption to betting. TAB Agents were kept fully informed of progress and racing clubs were involved in contingency plans. It was rolled out progressively over the country to minimise risk but even the early areas had no downtime events that reached the maximum acceptable of 30 minutes.

Judges said the Retirement Commission, winner in the Excellence in the Use of IT in government for its sorted.org.nz project, particularly impressed them with its ability to reinvent itself from its former staid image. Judges said the category was particularly satisfying to judge, as it celebrates the IT successes in the NZ public sector. " We tend only to hear of the problems ("failures") of public sector computing projects, and it is most heartening to know that in so many areas of the public sector there are projects that are quietly going about making a difference."

Centreport's FastGate project, which reduces the time truck drivers spend at a port picking up cargo, took out the Excellence in the Use of IT for Customer Service. It provides web-based notification on the status of containers, and an access PIN allows truckdrivers to go directly to the container and check whether the cargo is ready, or being inspected.

Technology Innovator of the year went to Masterton-based siliconBLUE, for ocoloco, which provides automatic management of e-commerce engines and payment applications to increase revenue, reduce costs and improve service. According to the judges, siliconBLUE's ocoloco gives a new dimension to businesses setting up e-commerce with the click and drop method of developing a website with all the infrastructure required to be operational within hours regarded as true innovation.

Auckland Regional Council beat farming favourite Fencepost.com and Oxygen Business Solutions to take out the award for Overall Excellence in the Use of IT for its Virtually thr, which integrates information on roads and public transport to encourage Aucklanders to use public transport. Virtually thr was a finalist in the B2C category, won by the TAB.

Computerworld Excellence Awards project manager Anne Simpson says for the first time in five years the awards have attracted more big companies than small, with many previous finalists coming back for another attempt at taking out a category win, such as Bubble Dome, a finalist last year, winning the award for Excellence in the Use of IT in Education (tertiary, community and commercial) over Kings Institute's Scholarnet and Victoria University's portal.

"The Awards are growing in prestige every year and it's important to recognise and reward successful projects and top performers amongst New Zealand's IT professionals," says Ms Simpson.

IDG Communications, publisher of Computerworld, initiated the awards five years ago to recognise excellence in the IT sector. With strong sponsorship support from the IT vendor community, the awards have doubled in size each year, with the 2002 Computerworld Excellence Awards attracting a new record number of entries, with more than 140 organisations and companies competing.

A complete list of winners, and contacts, is attached below.
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