Business cards are slowly going obsolete. Especially with pandemics like Covid-19, it is highly unlikely that people share their cards in such situations. People are moving towards digitization of everything. And this is the right time to get organized digitally.
The best way to get organized digitally is to scan your collection of business cards and get them exported to one of your favorite software. Below I mention the popular software that not only helps you store your contacts but also helps you retrieve them when required on the go.
Without talking much, let us start the process of finding different ways to export the scanned business cards into the three output formats:
- Google Contacts
- Microsoft Excel
- Microsoft Outlook
The above-mentioned formats will help you in situations where it is very tiresome to search for the contacts from your business card archives. To help you with this follow the common procedures that we would like to mention before stepping towards the specific ones based on your selection from the above options.
The first step towards converting the analog or physical or original copy, whatever you call it into its digital counterpart is to scan them using a good scanner in a good resolution.
Let us divide the two parameters that we just spoke about before we plunge into the process of digitization.
A Good Scanner or Mobile Camera
There are different types of scanners to do different kinds of work. To know more about the types of scanners and their uses, please follow this link. Let us figure out the best type of scanner that fits in here.
An ADF (Automated Document Feeder) scanner is the one that is apt for scanning business cards. These are the scanner where we insert documents from a feeder that is usually at the top of the scanner.
Inserting them onto these feeders, the feeders such as the documents, in our case, the business cards, scan them and places them in the tray from where we can collect them.
Everything happens magically in this scanner that scans easily at a pretty high speed ranging from 30 pages per minute to 120 pages per minute or even more.
You should be thinking, the speed is fine, but since the business cards are of a smaller size, how do these scanners manage to crop them and store them at that pace.
Don’t worry, thanks to the technology, the cropping and storing is a part of the scanning process, that is the 30 pages per minute scanning includes cropping and storing.
You can check a step-by-step tutorial on how to do the above-mentioned process in detail in this article. With 10 years of experience in the scanning field, having tried many scanners, we have arrived at our best scanners for different types of scanning on our recommendations page.
Now that you are familiar with the types of scanners, we recommend the following scanners for the purpose of scanning business cards.
The Right Resolution
The next step in our process of extraction is the resolution that you would want to scan the cards in. Know more about resolution from this page. There are a lot of FAQs addressed there.
For text to be extracted, from our experience in scanning books, 300 dpi resolution is in most cases enough. However, if you think that the font size in the business card is too small, go ahead and scan them at 600 dpi.
Most, or all of the recommended scanners support scanning at 600 dpi too. If you are still confused, you can refer to the below table to get an idea.
The better the resolution the better the detection by the OCR engines, which we will talk about soon. What you should be careful about is the fact that the size of the images will be heavier as you scan them at a higher resolution.
This might slow down the process of extraction from the OCR engines if you have slow machines.
Once you are ready with the digital images, all you have to do is to run your favorite OCR engines ranging from free to a relatively higher price. You might have to decide the software’s worth based on the quality and accuracy of the text extracted.
The following are the steps to follow to extract text from the scanned image. After following the steps, we will list the application that will help us do this from easiest to free software.
Well, the scanned images will be in the form of a JPG or TIFF based on the output format you would have opted for. However it is, it is still an image and we still cannot extract text out of these images.
To convert these images to text, as mentioned above, we will have to run OCR engines. OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition. You can know more about it from this article.
To simply put, it is an engine that converts an image, to the text provided the image has a language that the OCR engine is capable of detecting.
Note that the OCR engine might not be 100% accurate. The average accuracy that we have experienced from one of the best engines is around 95%.
That could be due to the errors like 1 (number) and I (Alphabet) or 0 (number) and O (alphabet), or it could be a scratch on one of the alphabets which could result in a poor OCR detection.
There is one more reason for the poor detection of text, poor resolution. So, now you know how important it is to keep up with the resolution.
Here is where artificial intelligence (AI) comes into the picture. The text recognized from the previous step will be raw text. Using AI, the text has to be categorized and added to the respective fields.
A failure here will result in a data mismatch. Like name entering into address space or phone number getting interchanged with the email id.
Once it is identified properly, the data has to be exported to the format you want them to be in. This article covers the three popular formats that you can have a relook at here.
The Extract process can be done in many ways. Let us start with the easier ways and go to the free ones.
List of Apps, Software
Before listing out the software, let us understand that there is no software that can do all this 100% accurately. There will be disparities both in terms of right spelling to change of fields or field mismatch.
You can either capture from the camera or import from the gallery but, some of these apps will not be able to import images from gallery, and only allows to click image from the camera.
So, here we go with the list.
In the list we have measured the apps with the following parameter. Each one will be measured on a scale of 1-10, where 1 is the least and 10 the best.
Speed: Time taken to process a single card in seconds tested in MediaTek Helio G80 Processor, 4GB RAM
Orientation: Is the card orientation vertical or horizontal
Accuracy: The percentage of no. of accurate text compared to original
Ease of use: How user friendly is the app
Export Options: The formats to which the cards can be exported to
Import Options: Get data from other applications
Free Limitation: What limitations does the free version has
Pricing: The pricing options for more features
|Ease of use||10|
|Export Options||Excel, Google Contacts, Outlook|
|Free Limitation||10 Scans|
Though our favorite text converter is ABBYY when it comes to detection, not mentioning this app is kind of not doing justice to this article. This app that is available for both android and ios is a gem of an app, right from its user interface to the functionalities that it provides to the accuracy.
It is built using material design. Like native google apps, it provides us with a dark theme, which is where the worth of the software starts from.
As opposed to what I have explained in the initial paras, there is no need for any scanner to be using this app. The only thing that you need is your camera, again, the better the resolution of the camera, the better the accuracy of the extract.
You can click on the camera icon to capture a business card. It captures the image of the business card and starts processing it.
The almost immediate output is surprising. It places each field in the exact same place that it belongs to. The following are the fields that the app populates:
This is all you need to do. To export it to any particular format, all you need to do is to click on the export button. It asks you to export the file.
If you are exporting multiple files at a time, to your astonishment, the options provided exactly match the title of the blog. The following are the options:
- Google Contacts
If you want a single contact to be stored, based on the phone you are using, it will ask you to either export to Google Contacts or Apple Contacts.
Pretty easy right?
|Accuracy||99% with verification|
|Ease of use||8 (too many options)|
|Export Options||Excel, Google, Outlook, Phone, Saleforce, Hubspot, Zoho, Pipedrive|
|Import Options||Google, Outlook, Phone|
|Free Limitation||10 Scans|
|Pricing||From $9.99/user/month to 399.99/10 users/year|
Again an accurate app, that not only solves the problem of business card reading but changes the whole system. Yes, it is a contact management software, that has a lot of other features in addition to card reading.
This is pretty similar to that of the previous app. While most of the apps address just the basic issues with respect to the contacts, this app has a wide variety of features.
The following are the rich features that most of the other apps don’t offer.
- 100% accuracy
- QR code scan
- Search Contacts
- Import Contacts from Google, Outlook
- Export to Google, Outlook, Excel
- Organize data by groups
- Scheduled Tasks
- Add Notes to Contacts
- Export to Salesforce, Hubspot
- Intelligent CRM
- Intuitive Lead Management
- Team Management
All of this does not come for free. It comes for a price which is in the saas model.
|Ease of use||8|
|Export Options||Contacts, Upload, Whatsapp, Social Media|
|Free Limitation||Free Trial|
|Pricing||Contact them to know more|
If your requirement is to internally manage your acquired contacts within the team, this is the app to have. This has a lot of features that are team and bulk-friendly.
Starting from capturing the details of the card to integrations with other software, this is very well-knit.
For instance, you can capture the details of multiple cards at once. It is very easy to scan around four business cards at a time.
All you have to do is to place the cards vertically beside one another. Capture all of them at once from the app, when you place the cards inside the blue area that is visible.
Once the contact is editable, in addition, you can add notes and tags to them, share them, via different means, along with bulk emails.
You can use admin privileges and change most of the things all by yourself, such as:
- Editing Contacts
- Downloading Data and
- Report Viewing
The Zapier(another software tool) integration allows you to add a business card automatically as leads in MailChimp or Salesforce.
|Ease of use||10|
|Export Options||Addressbook, Salesforce|
|Free Limitation||5 Exports to SugarCRM and Saleforce, Create 1 Folder|
|Pricing||$0.99 (USA only) for Premium App|
One of the main purposes of Business Cards comes in handy when attending events. Especially in mega-events where there are so many people attending, expecting your card to be shared.
Thanks to the pandemic, imagine you share your card, your co-attendees of the event will not be happy to receive it.
This is when this app helps you out by scanning single or bulk cards. While you are scanning a single card, use the landscape mode and for bulk card scanning, use the portrait mode by keeping the cards one below the other.
In addition to that, you can use the badge scanner and capture the batch details only to directly store them with your integrated systems such as:
- Constant Contact
to name a few.
|Ease of use||9|
|Export Options||Phone, VCF|
|Free Limitation||Only English|
|Pricing||Starts from $7.99 /month/user|
ABBYY has been our favorite from when we started scanning books. ABBYY is one of the best OCR engines especially when it comes to speed. Since this article is out of scope for explaining this software, let us learn how to use this tool to extract the business card details.
This is available over the phone, for both android and ios. After installing, open the app where you will be asked for permissions. After setting your desired permissions, you have two options.
- Open the Camera and click a picture of the Business card
- Open the Gallery to import already existing images in the gallery
While the first one looks easier, you don’t have the control of resolution, the most important thing while converting from image to text is missing. Moreover, the camera might shake a little capturing a blurred image resulting in poor text detection.
So, from our experience, it is always better to get the cards scanned and imported via any of your familiar technologies. Then import from the gallery using the relevant button on the software.
Once you do this the rest of the process happens automatically, resulting in the relevant data being populated in the right field.
One more important thing that you should be aware of is that in the free version, you can only store up to 10 contacts. For more exports, you need a premium version which comes in three variants.
- Monthly Subscription
- Yearly Subscription
|Ease of use||10|
|Export Options||Share from Phone as a link|
|Import Options||Eight, SanSan, CamCard|
Perhaps, the only free app that we have found in this vertical. Free as in completely free. There is no additional cost or in-app purchase.
It is not any less accurate when compared to its pricy counterparts. Apart from the accuracy, the additional thing that surprised me was the fact that it could scan multiple business cards with different orientations.
Yes, you read it right. One of the cards was vertically printed and trust me, it automatically recognized the fields and added the right fields to the right places.
You can in fact have more cards to be bulk captured. Every card will be denoted by a circle via the camera. All you have to do is to capture once the circles are visible through the camera.
Depending on the quality of the camera, you will first see the cards automatically split and imported. Then it will detect the text and create seperate contacts for each card that is captured.