The ritual of exchanging business cards hasn’t changed much for over 100 years. Today we now have the chore of copying information to contact lists, such as those in Outlook. Every week I meet new people who I want to keep in touch with: clients, partners, potential employees. Staying in contact with a network takes time and until very recently, recording contact details was a necessary and laborious chore. Not anymore.
Evernote has an iPhone app that I have been using for a couple of years to capture pictures of articles and data in journals and magazine that caught my eye and wanted to file for future use. Market intelligence, film, restaurant reviews and design ideas have been stored - and retrieved - much more effectively than a wallet of torn out pages. But an efficient way to capture business card information had proved elusive.
Evernote has had a business card scanning app for a few years. It did a reasonable job of capturing and storing contact details using the iPhone’s camera. The problem was that information only lived in Evernote, and still required re-keying separately into a contact management system, which defeats the point of the whole thing.
Late last year Evernote released a much improved scanning upgrade as part of it's new iPhone app. Now I can move data from a business card to Outlook contacts in two clicks.
Selecting the camera function within the Evernote app displays the image of the card on the phone’s screen. It's smart enough to distinguish between a business card, a document and a photograph and deals with each differently. When it recognises a business card, it shades the image of the card green then recreates a corrected, digital image on the screen, corrected for any distortion. The contact details are listed out below using the app’s best guess at name, company, phone number and the email address it has found on the card. It also pulls in LinkedIn information, including a photo, if given the OK to do so. Most importantly, it now adds the details to the iPhone's contact list, which can then be automatically synchronised with Outlook.
The upgrade requires an Evernote Premium account (they give a free trial for up to 5 contacts). Having tried the app with various business cards I found it fast, easy, accurate - and just a little bit addictive.
All I need now is a wet, cold, Sunday to work through the backlog of my cards.