No matter how talented your IT staff, ultimately it is dependent on technology to get the job done. That's why the quality of the software, hardware and services used by IT pros goes a long way toward determining not only the effectiveness of any given enterprise, but the success of an entire organization.

Datamation has a long tradition of recognizing and honoring the best IT product vendors through its Product of the Year Awards. For the winners, these annual awards are a mark of distinction and symbol of achievement in a crowded, highly competitive marketplace.

Perhaps the main reason a Datamation award is so coveted is because it comes directly from IT users. Each year Datamation readers have the opportunity to choose their favorite products from among a list of finalists in several categories.

This year we've added a number of categories and dropped a few to better reflect technology product trends affecting enterprises.

Nominations are open from now through Tuesday, January 18. A complete list of the categories is here. You may nominate in as many, or as few, categories as you feel appropriate.

Who and what are eligible for the award? Eligibility guidelines are posted. But the major criterion is that the nominated products must have been introduced or significantly updated (e.g. a new release version) within the 2004 calendar year.

Once nominations are in, Datamation's editorial staff will choose finalists in each category. We'll post that ballot on January 21 and plan to announce the winners later this month. Check the Datamation home page for updates.