In February we ran a customer survey asking people to rate the most important factors to them when purchasing a rugged tablet for business. The results represent answers from people in diverse industries around the world. The answers are very interesting least not because Price wasn’t ranked top. Here are the results
The most important factor for customers buying rugged tablets for business was a resounding nod to product quality and we couldn’t agree more. Product can be very difficult to distinguish in advance of purchase however. This is why we offer a free loan service to customers so they can try out our devices before committing to buy.
Features ranked a very close second to product quality with a weighted rank difference of only 0.28! This is exciting news as we always encourage customers to find the closest match on features possible. We believe you shouldn’t compromise on quality or features when purchasing rugged tablets, after all you’re making a long term investment, there shouldn’t be any compromise on features. We have noticed that consumer devices increasingly provide simplicity over features, think Apple MacBook with a single USB port to save on space. This trend is inching in on the rugged device market which means we’re seeing fewer RJ45, RS232 and full-size USB ports.
In third place with a weighted rank of 3.73 is price. There’s no escaping it, whether you’re buying a rugged android tablet or rugged windows tablet you are still conscious of price. Enough said.
4. Specification e.g. best CPU
Traditionally computers have always been compared on the numbers. Although comparing CPUs on their speed is no longer a good measure people ultimately know what to ask for: Core i5, 8GB RAM, xxxGB storage, 8 megapixel, 64-bit, OS version X – we still talk in numbers. We agree that people mostly talk features first but these are frequently accompanied by empirical quantifiers to the specification; and that’s what datasheets are for.
5. Warranty / Support level
In retrospect this factor was a little broad but we agree with its placement in the rankings. There are many things to consider with regard to warranty and support level. Ultimately how a company performs during warranty is key, it’s not just about the number of years coverage. The reality is that only a very small percentage of rugged tablet service requests are down to issues covered by warranty, more common is damage by the end users. That’s why we stress that we offer the same level of service irrespective of fault. The greatest cost of mobile devices is downtime caused by failure. We are averaging single day repairs on our rugged windows tablets and rugged android tablets.
6. Availability / Speed of supply
Past half way and we can assume that factors this far down the rankings may not even be decision factors for the conscientious rugged tablet buyer. We threw this factor in out of curiosity because sometimes you have to wait a long for devices from certain suppliers. Sure on larger quantities you’ll have to wait with anybody buy small quantities and samples should always be available. That can sometimes mean taking whatever specification is in stock. Because we build custom specifications to order right here in the UK you can trust that your specification will be available and you won’t have to pay for over-specification.
Consistency is important for businesses that may deploy devices continually over many years. The long term concern is interoperability – with other hardware/software, with accessories and even with users. Changes to specification are nearly always unwelcome by businesses. Fundamentally a device cannot stay the same forever due to life cycles on all components. However as a manufacturer one can always choose to iterate and upgrade the least possible rather than the most possible, and this is certainly our approach. We generally only iterate when a CPU is discontinued and when we do we change the absolute minimum, leaving ports in the same position and causing as little change in the specification as possible. Internally we call these changes “silent upgrades” because when customers return to buy the same device they rarely notice the change. You get a free performance boost but no surprises when it comes to interoperability.
8. Locality of supplier, e.g. same country
It makes sense that factors 1-7 would be more important than locality buy we believe in practice that however you rank support then locality should be next as support without locality could be a compromise. Fortunately within Europe we have very fast and low cost shipping un-harboured by customs thanks to the common market which means trading with our neighbours is almost as simple as trading nationally. But ultimately dealing in a device without local or quasi-local support is going to add massively to and downtime cost.
9. Brand perception
We thought we’d throw this in there as we relaunched our own company and main product brand. How much we are really affected by branding nobody knows for sure (sips branded cola).
10. Size of supplier
At the bottom of the list is supplier size only marginally lower ranked than the number 9 spot. When it comes to the size of your rugged tablet supplier it’s just not a factor in the buying process.
We did ask people to say if anything else would be in their rankings and where. The most common answers were “SUPPORT”, “RUGGEDNESS” and “WINDOWS”.
Support was already covered in the list above but people clearly wanted to drive that point home – it was the most common word in your answers. We couldn’t agree more and remember not to be smoke-screened by the number of years you are covered by a lacklustre warranty.
Ruggedness could be a part of specification but we agree it could have been separated out. However the ruggedness of most products in the industry is more-or-less equal. Ruggedness is the cost of entry to the rugged tablet game with almost everything hovering around IP65 with a minimum 4ft/1.2m drop rating and MIL-810 certification to boot for vibration, temperature et al. Given this was a look at the most important factors when buying a rugged tablet we assumed rugged was a pre-requisite and “rugged” means all of these measures.
Windows came up in a lot of your answers and while we could have put Operating System as a separate factor we decided in the end that it was a feature, e.g. it’s a feature to be able to run Windows 7 right now when there is every decreasing choice for Windows 7 Tablets. You told us you needed Windows 7 Tablets, or that you need to run a full-Windows OS on a tablet and you told us this in a hundred different ways. That’s good news and we hear you.
Thanks again to everyone that completed the survey and well done to the first 100 people that answered, bagging themselves a free mobile power bank in the process. Those power banks are now keeping our customers’ mobile device powered around the clock and around the world.