Earlier this year, I received a request for quote for a large quantity of sealed, back-lit keyboards.  There was a list of requirements and an invitation to bid.  The request came from an unknown party, with no description of use or intent.  Based on the facts at hand, I decided this was a quest seeking the lowest bid for a product that met specifications.  I knew the product line we carry (iKey) wins a lot of deals, but never based on price.  Experience told me that this was not going to be a good use of my time.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The request was from a Director of Information Systems at a large Children’s Hospital system seeking medical keyboards.   When I had the opportunity to speak with her, I was very up front about my concerns.  I told her that if the lowest bidder was going to win, iKey wasn’t a realistic contender.  I was very surprised (and even more happy) to hear that price was not the primary concern.  It had been a very strong factor in their last keyboard purchasing decision and the people who had to live with that decision (the actual users) were not happy with the result.  This time, they were going to put evaluation units into a real working environment and heavily rely on user feedback.  Now I was interested!
We discussed features and narrowed down the list to three possible models.  Working with our partner, iKey, we arranged to get the evaluation keyboards on-site and the testing began.  They tested these units, as well as competitive products, and gathered user feedback.  After a period of weeks had passed, the iKey models were in the clear leader position and ultimately one of the three was chosen.  The roll-out is still in process.
I admit to drawing some premature conclusions about the nature of the original request.  It’s easy to get cynical after seeing time and again the “lowest bid” purchasing mentality.  This time I was pleasantly surprised by the process, as well as the results.
Please contact us if you have similar projects requiring sealed rugged keyboards and pointing devices for medical, industrial, public safety, military or hazardous locations.  Options include back-lit keys and models for desktop, panel mount, rack mount and OEM applications.  Demo equipment is available for qualified opportunities.