I’ve been thinking about business cards a lot lately. Ever since we heard that LinkedIn killed CardMunch, we’ve seen massive growth in the number of people turning to FullContact Card Reader. That leads me to only one conclusion – You all hate business cards as much as we do. But that raises the question as to why nobody has (at least not yet) found a better solution.
The Business Card Problem
Is there anything that is as universally loathed and yet as fundamentally necessary as the business card? It seems to me that the only people who actually like the things are the companies who print them. But we stick with them because they work. They work because they don’t require the recipient to have any special software, hardware or whateverware in order to exchange information.
There simply is not a standard format for exchanging business contact information with another person aside from cards. Business cards are the standard, and will be for the foreseeable future.
Business Card Alternatives
Companies have tried for years to solve the business card problem. Remember QR codes? People were handing out cards with QR codes on them, expecting other people to know what to do with the code, have a piece of software that could read it and then still manually transcribe that information into somewhere that it’s actually useful.
Or how about Bump? Let me just smack my $600 smartphone together with yours and we’ll exchange information that way. Seems simple enough right? Sure…but it was far from a rousing success. Though that’s a moot point since Google bought the company and shuttered the application.
We’ve seen apps that use Bluetooth, NFC, WiFi…you name it. But none of them ever seem to get the traction that is necessary in order to let you leave your business cards at home.
What’s the Solution?
If we’re all carrying around a pocket full of cards, what’s happening to them? Research shows that up to 90 percent of them end up in the trash. People simply don’t take the time to transcribe those cards into somewhere that they’re actually useful. Expensive digital scanners and risky mail order services certainly aren’t the answers. The USPS managed to lose $1.9 billion. Do you think they can keep track of your cards in the mail?
Unfortunately, this is a problem that nobody’s seemed to fix, and a viable alternative isn’t peeking over the horizon. We’re in an interesting position here at FullContact where we dislike business cards just as much as you do, even though one of our products relies on their existence. We may hate them, but we recognize that they’re the best solution that’s available right now so we just want to make them less of a burden.
So to you, salespeople, hackers and hustlers of the world, I posit this question – What’s a better alternative? Have an idea? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.
Image: Paul Wilkinson via Flickr