Recently we met a real estate executive who had the preference of using a $2 business card scanner app to maintain contacts instead of organization's own business contact manager. It reminded us of another instance during our survey study when we came across a sales manager who used personal spreadsheets for documenting opportunities instead of using company's sophisticated CRM system
Nothing is wrong with personal app or individual's spreadsheet. But an organization's viewpoint is very different:
1. The business card reader app is usually for personal use. The data stays in the user's phone, in the same way the spreadsheet might stay in the user's own folder. The organization does not benefit from it. Since it is a personal system and not used by entire organizations, contacts do not get consolidated and relationship intelligence cannot be derived from it. The CRM is unable to see this data or capture the details of the handshake. The question of Who Knows Who? Cannot be effectively answered.
2. The OCR data in business card readers cannot be trusted - It will be to be double-checked and edited manually for accuracy. The business card is a work of art and in its scanning there is a big probability of parsing error. The way the photo is taken also makes a massive difference to the OCR parser's output. For full accuracy, companies like us use human transcription. Our users just take a photo of the card and confidently assume that accurate data will arrive. The data can be trusted and can be acted upon with confidence in enterprise-wide campaigns, marketing automation or CRM. This is not possible with a personal OCR based app.
3. There are practical areas where OCR will just fail. We have seen scribbled data coming from post-it notes, paper napkins and from photos of contact information from the boards. Then there are countless examples of numbers and email addresses manually corrected on business cards. In addition, we have seen cases where the photo of 'Bill To' field of purchase orders are taken instead of business cards. Product warranty cards with handwritten data now accounts for a large volume. These are very difficult cases for a business card scanning app.
4. While the native integration with CRM and other systems as a natural advantage for enterprise contact manager, we also have to consider the capability of the system to adapt to the customer's environment. One of our user has added over 30 custom fields to the contact record. Another one has over 200 tags and equal number of reports for their users so that all get consistent viewpoint. And there is another who is using us only because of its capabilities to capture and share notes where the history of every interaction is captured and instantaneously shared within the organization and sent to CRM. These are difficult with OCR based business card scanning app meant for personal use.
5. Lastly, as compared to a mobile OCR app, an enterprise contact manager is generally an end to end platform. There is a feature-rich back-end application and a highly flexible front-end which can be used by everyone within the company, its contractors, temporary staff and even by untrusted partners. There are multiple layers of security and the data is viewed accordingly based on the perspective of the user.
We are not against business card OCR based apps. But we argue that the contact data is more valuable to the organization when it is shared between its teams, is centrally captured and integrated with CRM, instead of being held in a digital personal rolodex with questionable accuracy.