Sometimes recognition doesn’t mean what you think. Sure awards and titles help assign regal connotations, but in reality accreditations (such as awards, titles, certifications, etc.) don’t always dictate absolutes. I’m sure we’ve all seen “Academy Award” winning movies we’ve hated, or have had a terrible meal “the best reviewed” restaurant. That’s because when it comes down to it, service is subjective. Sure, awards, titles, certifications help services, providers, features, etc. to stand out amongst competitors; however, users shouldn’t use accreditations alone to validate their choice(s).

Accreditations, though helpful, can sometimes function more as PR. More often than not titles are promotional tools that relay “absolute best” as opposed to “superior.” With that, users need to concern themselves with more than just awards and title. Users should research providers, services, products, etc. using title as a factor instead of justification. Once that is done, these awards, titles, certifications, etc. work best as guidelines (like reviews) that factor into a decision.

Some may think that certifications hold more weight than a title or award, but it ultimately offers the same function. Certifications merely mean that a provider, service, or product is fit to function according to a specified standard. This does not dictate that the service exceeds standards. Instead, certifications serve as a notification. For example, the CCVP (Cisco Certified Voice Professional) certification is a program that delivers intermediate to advanced level information regarding industry and service standards. A provider fit with this certification should not be denoted as the best. Instead, they should be viewed as standard—as they have met the standards required NOT exceeded them.

As stated above, awards are also associated with an overly positive connotation. End of the year, best of, quality awards and more typically dictate that the organization assigning the award has deemed the product/service/provider as the best in the category or class. That does not necessarily mean that the recipient is the best available. Users should use accreditations, titles, and awards such as these to help them weave through and thin out provider options.

With this usage, these titles can be extremely helpful. Instead of searching blindly through providers, users can use accreditations as benchmarks for quality. For example, Shoretel Sky Mobility recently won Internet Telephony’s Product of the Year Award. If you were looking for a mobile solution, this award denotes a specific level of quality. Therefore, instead of just choosing the solution, use this service as a starting point for other options. For example, check this year’s winner (ShoreTel) against the previous years (Thrupoint’s Enterprise Mobility Solution- 2011 PotY).

There are various awards released by different companies and committees throughout the year. As services upgrade and advance, these accreditations are not always able to maintain their validity. Additionally, many providers have begun to distribute their own awards for various categories and subcategories. As the number of accreditations increases, the less valid they become. If four providers are named best of the year by four different awards committees, the effectiveness is greatly diluted. To combat misinformation, users should seek out various information pertaining to various VoIP providers and services. In using accreditations as guidelines, users will be able to better differentiate “the best” from a quality service/provider/product.

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