by Tony Rushin
With the improvement of phone cameras and optical character recognition (OCR) software, capturing business card information simply by taking a photo of the card has become much more accurate and reliable. Since I’m in the midst of implementing Salesforce CRM at Network 1, I decided it was time to review our options for business card readers.
I was looking for iPhone apps that would export contacts into Salesforce. I quickly narrowed it down to four apps, all of which also have options to input the contact information into iPhone Contacts. Here are the four apps I considered / tested:
ScanBizCards. This app had a great price, 99 cents, but terrible performance. I didn’t test the export to Salesforce feature because the app never mapped the right information into the right fields. I tried two different cards three times each and each time letters and/or numbers were missing. I finally gave up and chalked it up to “you get what you pay for”.
FullContact Card Reader. This is an interesting option. It doesn’t use OCR. Rather, the iPhone app snaps a photo of the business card and sends it off to real people who transcribe the information and enter it into one of 250 applications including Salesforce, SugarCRM, your iPhone contacts, Hubspot, MailChimp, ExactTarget, Dropbox, Evernote and OneNote (here’s a list of all of the applications they work with). There is a free trial for 10 transcriptions and the service is $10 / month for 50 business cards or $100 annual prepay that includes 1000 business cards. I didn’t actually test this app but it’s intriguing. I imagine it’s similar to the now defunct CardMunch app from LinkedIn that I used from time to time.
ABBYY BCR. This app was easy to use and did a great job of getting the right information into the right place. I tested it on 4 business cards and the only mess up was a business card from SA IT Services when it interpreted the logo to be a company named: saitservices. The corporate edition, with full integration to Salesforce leads, costs $20 per user per year. However, I discovered that it only works if you have the Enterprise ($125 / month) or higher license of Salesforce: Network 1 has the Professional ($65 / month) license of Salesforce. I sent an email to the company to explore other options they may have but haven’t heard back yet.
Business Card Reader Pro. I tested this with 2 business cards. It was mostly accurate (although the CFP designation after the person’s name threw it off) and easy to use but not as easy and quick as ABBYY BCR. The export to Salesforce was easy to setup and execute with the information showing up as a Lead in Salesforce just as advertised. The price is reasonable, $6.99, and the app seems to be solid although the interface, compared to ABBYY BCR, is a little clunky.
Where do I go from here? My next step is to see if ABBYY BCR has a Salesforce integration option that works with the Professional version of Salesforce. If it does, I’ll test it. If it doesn’t, or if I don’t like the test results, then we’ll try the FullContact Card Reader for a month and see how that works relative to Business Card Reader Pro. The good news is that there are several workable options for us to choose from.