At ISC West I had the privilege to serve for the first time as a judge for SIA’s New Product Showcase Awards. What a fascinating experience! Not only was I able to watch each company in my judging category present their working products and describe them in detail, I also was able to learn from the other judges — consultants, architects, systems integrators — about what they considered to be the key elements of each product, and what would make them choose one over another.

There were multiple judging panels at NPS; the panel I was on included chief technology officers from two large systems integrators. What they did as New Product Showcase judges is part of what they do everyday in evaluating new products for their companies — read, listen, observe, question and discern.

It got me thinking about smaller security companies that don’t employ their own Chief Technology Officer and how they can’t afford to devote the same level of resources to the job of evaluating products. With the New Product Showcase, however, they can have a virtual chief technology officer. In fact, they have the benefit of having more than 20 independent judges screen new products for them.

The NPS Awards isn’t set up so that the judges can try out the products on a workbench or field test them; but security professionals do get the benefit of the many years of experience the judges bring to the program and they should capitalize on that.

For the list of 2012 NPS winners, visit