Why Aren’t We Using A Digital Business Card App Already?

The tectonic shift from paper to digital can be seen in almost every aspect of our personal and professional lives. We all carry many gigabytes of content around in the smartphones in our pockets, and use digital versions of everything from newspapers to notebooks, photo albums to contracts.

With all of the transitioning from paper to digital that we have done in all aspects of our lives, it’s a wonder that we are not already using a digital business card app. There are so many problems with paper business cards…  let me list a few that come to mind:

  • They’re expensive. Companies pay to print business cards every time they change their branding, and every time someone takes a new job, which can really add up. (According to costhelper.com, business cards cost $0.05-$0.20 per card for basic cards and much more for custom designs and premium materials.)
  • They kill trees. Most companies provide you with a box of 200+ business cards at a time, and with all of the role and job changes happening these days, boxes nearly full of business cards frequently end up in the recycling bin.
  • You never seem to have them when you need them. You might remember to bring cards to an industry conference or important meeting, but what happens when you’re at a restaurant and you bump into someone who is hiring for your dream job? If you don’t have a card on you, you might miss the chance to connect with them.
  • They never seem to be right. So many times, when someone gives me their business card, they pull out a pen to cross out or correct the information printed on the card.
  • In order to get use out of a business card in our digital world, we are required to do data entry (a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad task for anyone who values their time.) After meeting twenty people at an industry conference, it might take you a half hour or more to enter all of their contact information into a database or CRM system. And if you don’t take the time to do this right away, you will waste time later trying to find their information when you need it.
  • They create clutter. If you don’t do the data entry mentioned above, the business cards you receive might end up in a drawer, where they will be of little use to you (I know this from experience.)

Perhaps business cards have hung on because deep down we appreciate the benefits they bring.  For instance:

  • It’s really easy to pull a card out of your wallet and hand it to someone, and voilà, they have your contact information.
  • The social ritual of exchanging business cards is a way to show respect for the person you just met. This ritual crosses cultural barriers and is especially important in Asian cultures.
  • An existing infrastructure of graphic designers and business print shops makes it possible for anyone to create business cards and customize them however they would like.
  • When a company’s employees share business cards in their daily lives, it allows the company to spread its brand and message.
    Perhaps more importantly than any of these benefits, we are used to using business cards, and so far no alternative has led us to change our behavior. Habits and social norms are sticky and hard to change.

However, a digital business card has some notable benefits:

  • Immediate. Information can be passed instantly.
  • Complete and correct. No data entry required.
  • Low cost or free. No printing required.
  • Always up-to-date. Information can be updated in real time.
  • Accessible from anywhere. A cloud-based solution can be accessed from any device, including, conveniently, the smartphone that is already in your pocket.
  • Lasting. A connection made digitally can be backed up many times over, so it cannot be misplaced or lost.
  • Secure. Most security experts argue that digital solutions are more secure than paper.
  • Easily duplicated and shared. Unlike a paper card, a digital card might “exist” in multiple places via associations with various contact lists or networks.

For these reasons, at Convey, we believe that the paper business card will soon be a thing of the past. We have made the leap from paper to digital in other aspects of our lives, and there is nothing so different about business cards that will shield them from the sea change of the digital age. Furthermore, we are all already using common work-arounds to exchange contact information digitally, such as calling or texting someone’s mobile phone so they have your number.

In the same way that eBooks and eReaders are replacing books, we believe that the new digital business card app will have all of the benefits of the original paper business card, combined with valuable digital capabilities that will lead us to change our behavior.

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