When was the last time you handed out or received a physical business card?
As the popularity of customer relationship management (CRM) applications continues to rise, there are certainly fewer of them being printed and circulated. But old habits die hard, and there's still something very personal and deliberate about exchanging something tangible after a particularly positive meeting.
So, it's likely that most small businesses are collecting at least some paper cards on a regular basis (fish bowl drawing at the register anyone?), and your staff could use a way to automate the data entry process.
The good news is that most smartphones can facilitate this task because of their digital imaging features. And there are plenty of mobile apps that can help, regardless of whether you're handling just a few new cards on an ongoing basis or you're looking to convert a stack of them into a format that can be shared with your team after a trade show.
Here are a few to consider (listed in alphabetical order):
- Bump (Apple iOS, Android; Free) — The software shares information (contacts, photos and other files) when you tap your smartphone against another Bump-enabled mobile device. It now works with your computer (you just "bump" the phone in conjunction with the space key). The app works across different mobile phone platforms and it includes the ability to connect your contact information to social networks, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
- CardCloud (Android, iOS; Free) — This is actually a clever twist on the business card concept. It's a mobile app that creates "an infinite stack” of digital business cards that you can share wirelessly between iPhones and Android smartphones. You can also email them via the CardCloud service. A feature that is especially beneficial for those of you (like me) who don't always remember if you've exchanged cards with someone before: the software will remind you if you've already "met."
- CardMunch (iOS; Free) — Affiliated with LinkedIn, CardMunch uses your iPhone camera to photograph cards and convert them into contacts. The images are transcribed by humans for improved accuracy. As you might expect, the contacts can be converted easily into LinkedIn connections. Android and BlackBerry versions are under development.
- Evernote Hello (Android, iOS; part of Evernote Premium; priced at $5/month) — There are several ways to create contacts with this mobile app, including business card scans, direct connections with other Evernote Hello users (via the Evernote Connect service) or a quick profile creation option, which works with LinkedIn and Facebook.
- FullContact Card Reader (iOS; starts at $9.99/month, $99.99/year) — If your organization relies heavily on Salesforce.com, this is definitely an app that you should evaluate. It turns business card images directly into Salesforce.com leads. (Of course, if you don't use Salesforce, then it isn't relevant).
- ScanBizCards (iOS, Android, Windows Phone; $3.99 to $6.99, depending on OS) — If your company uses Salesforce.com, this is definitely an app to evaluate. You can export everything that you capture directly into the CRM package. There a direct link to LinkedIn, and there is a one-button feature that will initiate a LinkedIn invite to any scanned contact. If you don't have time to do it yourself, you can use the company's transcription service, at $0.18 per card.
- Shape Business Card Reader (iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows, Symbian and Java; varies depending on the platform, $4.99 for Android or $6.99 for iOS) — Uses optical character recognition to convert images into contact entries, and boasts integration with both Evernote and Salesforce.com.
- WorldCard Link (Apple iOS; starts at $39.95) — One of the most comprehensive technologies available, this software comes with a special iPhone stand to help position the card you want to scan, improving accuracy. WorldCard also offers similar apps for Android and Windows Mobile, starting at $5.99, but there isn't a dock that comes with the product. The Pro version makes it simpler to integrate the scanned information with Outlook. The software also integrates with iCloud and Dropbox for storing images.