The Time for the Digital Business Card Has Come
Every start-up founder and freelancer at some point asks themselves whether they should go ahead and print business cards. They might resist because the process is time consuming and expensive or because branding or contact information might change.
Also, shouldn’t there be a digital solution to the business card by now?
In 2011, PCWorld found that when it comes to digital business cards, “the future is not quite ready” and perhaps proving the author right, none of the digital business card apps vying for market adoption at that time are around today. But what does it mean that “the future is not ready”? Did the apps themselves need work? Or was the public not ready for their innovations?
Both factors were probably at play in some way, but we cannot underestimate the impact of the latter – market timing. As many inventors and entrepreneurs have learned the hard way, you can create a product that is perfect in every way, but if the market is not ready, it’s not ready, and your perfect product will not take hold.
We can debate the ideal feature set of a digital business card (and I’m sure we will at some point on this blog,) but regardless of the feature set, we believe that now is the time for digital business cards and here’s why.
Certain Market Conditions Had To Be Met
A few things had to happen before the public was ready to use a digital business card:
- Almost everyone had to have a smartphone. A digital business card app is only valuable if you can use it to share “cards,” so the vast majority of people you meet need to have the device that makes this possible.
- People needed to be comfortable downloading and using apps. For a digital business card app to be most useful, both people in a contact sharing situation need to have the app. So a large portion of the population must be at least somewhat likely to download an app when they learn about it.
- Businesses needed to accept the fact that people bring their own devices to work and needed to adopt solutions that capitalize on this new paradigm. After all, we are talking about business cards, so businesses play a role in market adoption.
Recently These Conditions Were Met
For those of us surrounded by people with smartphones, it now seems hard to believe that the majority of American did not have a smartphone even a few years ago. However, according to Statista.com, in 2012 less than 40% of the U.S. population used a smartphone, and now that number is approaching 70%. The more we use smartphones and the more our behaviors adjust to a smartphone-enabled world, the more likely it is that we will ask ourselves why we are still carrying business cards and look for a better solution on the device already in our pocket.
Speaking of the device in our pocket, more and more of us are bringing smartphones to work and using apps to increase our productivity. The results of a survey described in the Harvard Business Review show that the bring your own device (BYOD) trend is only increasing, whether or not companies condone it and have policies to deal with it. Furthermore, it is more prevalent in high performing companies than in a general pool of companies, which suggests that over time more companies will move in a BYOD direction.
Even just a few years ago, there were not many technology solutions tailored to this BYOD world. It was more common for people to have separate devices and separate accounts for their work and personal lives. However, it is getting much easier to manage these different aspects of our lives from one device. There are more and more examples, from Dropbox to Lastpass, of software companies successfully bridging the consumer to business divide with dual-use solutions. Therefore, it’s conceivable that companies are ready to adopt a digital business card solution that their employees can also use in their personal lives.
Based on all of the these trends that are laying the necessary groundwork for a shift to digital, we believe that the time has come. The market is ready for the digital business card, and at Convey, we have set out to test this hypothesis through market validation.