Three years ago, SQL Server Magazine launched the Innovator Awards to recognize the most creative and effective uses of SQL Server technology to solve business problems—and to share those solutions with the community. In 2004, we received perhaps the highest quality of entries ever, and we're inspired by the work you're doing to make IT a vital part of your organizations' success.

In this issue, we go inside the top four 2004 Innovator Award solutions, exploring the business problems the winners faced, how they developed their solutions, and the benefits and return on investment their companies experienced as a result of their creative use of SQL Server and .NET technology. We hope these solutions give you valuable tips as you seek to solve your own business problems. We also hope these winning entries inspire you to participate in the 2005 Innovator Awards—watch for the entry form in our May issue.

Thanks to our judges: SQL Server Magazine contributing editors Douglas McDowell of Intellinet and Brian Moran of Solid Quality Learning and Stephen Wynkoop of the SQL Server Worldwide User's Group (SSWUG). And special thanks to Idera for sponsoring the 2004 awards.