What IT Professionals Can Learn From the Oscars

By Marc J. Schiller

Last Sunday’s broadcast of the Oscars closed out the awards season in movie land—and not a day too soon! Over the past couple months, all the stars gathered time and time again to honor what the movie industry regarded as its best creative work from the previous year. And let me tell you—they would not let us forget it. During the lead up to last weekend’s Oscars broadcast alone, we were practically assaulted with red carpets, seemingly endless celebrity gossip, and speculation about who would win an Oscar and griping about who wasn’t nominated. You may think Hollywood is always a little excessive on the PR front, but during the awards season they really turn the ritz, glitz and attention-grabbing up to 11.

While watching the Oscars broadcast on Sunday night I began to wonder: Do these people really need to turn up the wattage every year and totally dominate both the news cycle and the water-cooler conversation? These people are celebrities, after all, and they are already in the media spotlight 24/7! Why do they need to go all out once a year and throw this big televised party that, when you think about it, amounts to little more than insiders giving awards to other insiders?

It’s a funny thing but all this hype, this giant televised show that captured the world’s attention, isn’t really about driving movie business revenues. Sure, a few big PR moves are made this time of year. And, yes, getting eyeballs on the broadcast and all the shows surrounding it helped make some rich people even richer. But when all those movie stars sat down in the Dolby Theater last Sunday night I guarantee you the last thing they were thinking about was the public.

Instead, they were thinking about each other.

Namely, they were thinking whether enough of their peers in the room considered their work important enough to honor it with an “official” award. Because everyone—even these celebrities who are constantly having their egos stroked by the masses’ adulation—experience a deeply ingrained desire to feel validated by their peers. These movie celebrities are more famous and beloved than almost anyone else in the world. Yet, they still need to feel a pat on the back every once in a while from others who truly know what they had to do to make it to that stage.

It’s a feeling of self-validation—and almost everyone will tell you that it’s like nothing else in the world. And despite the many financial and other rewards of movie celebrity, it’s the Oscar that tops it all.

IT’s Own Academy Awards

Of course, we have our own equivalent of the Academy Awards. We have quite a few of them, in fact. There’s the CIO Hall of Fame, the Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leaders Award and the American Technology Awards, just to name a few. We in IT have at least as many opportunities to receive recognition as the movie industry does and, like them, we present awards every year. However, there is one key difference between our awards and movie land’s awards: the competition for our awards doesn’t even begin to reflect the vast size of our industry.

I tell you this as someone who is always trying to get IT pros to apply for these awards. It is very hard to get a significant number of IT people to even try to receive a little industry recognition. Some people are embarrassed, some are afraid and some are just apathetic. And others are too humble to put themselves out there. Whatever the excuse, these industry awards regularly find themselves with a limited number of qualified applicants competing to receive them.

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