I can remember–distinctly–my initial reservations.

An annual award for customers, will it be perceived as genuine? How will we avoid appearing to choose favorites, like our biggest customers?

Ten years out from our first Citrix Innovation Award, I’m happy to admit my reservations were all for naught.

I believe we’ve created a viable, respected and aspirational customer recognition program. There have been many highs and lows, and some emotional moments, but it’s always been authentic and enlightening.

Our original purpose was to recognize innovation and celebrate customer stories. I feel we’ve achieved both objectives.

We’ve been fortunate to feature stories from around the world and, as the winners are chosen by their peers, there have been a few surprising results through the years. The response we continue to receive to our annual ‘Call for Nominations’ tells me we have something credible.

We made a conscious decision to use the word ‘innovation’. We knew it had its risks – we couldn’t own the word, as a company, and others were claiming it for their purposes, but it gave us enough leeway to attract a broad range of customer stories each year. It’s made us question what innovation really means, and while our definition has changed over the years, the conversation has always been inspiring.

I’ll admit we got lucky.

We fell in with a great video production company from Day One. This meant we kicked off with distinctive, customer-centric content – and this really set the tone for what was to follow. We also had great buy in from our field marketing teams and channel partners. We were hoping for nominations in the first year–we got nearly thirty–and when we chose our finalists and showed up with camera and crew to interview them, our customers didn’t hesitate to open their doors to us.

This positive reaction gave us a credible slate of stories to present. Within a year we knew we were on to something, and momentum continued to build.

Citrix was a very different company back then.

We were almost solely focused on the channel and didn’t have a lot of direct relationships with customers.  I believe the awards have inspired a cultural shift for the business. Customer stories are now at the heart of our marketing, the customer has a far greater voice across many aspects of our business. Essentially, we’re now closer to our customers. Turns out the Citrix Innovation Award has proved to be the catalyst for us to innovate.

I don’t know how the Awards will evolve, but I do know that they will evolve. Everyone in the world shares experiences through stories. We’ll keep customer stories at the heart of our business.

Thank you to all that have contributed to the last ten years. Here’s to the next ten.