Software Smarts

By Daniel Dern  |  Posted 2008-04-02 Print this article Print

Using the CardScan is simplicity itself. Connect it, and start feeding cards in--which "wakes up" the software. There's a motor inside the scanner; you just have to push a card far enough in for it to be noticed and grabbed. When the card slides out the back, you can start checking the scan or you can keep feeding cards through.  

You can also grab information from e-mail "signature" blocks, Web pages, documents or other sources using drag-and-drop, importing or synchronizing, and feed it to the CardScan software.

Software Smarts Supercharge Scanning Value

The big value-add of CardScan is the software, which performs text recognition on the scanned card images, and does its best to sort this information into appropriate fields of the CardScan contact database, which lets you also add tags like "URGENT CALLBACK," and has a text NOTES field.  

"It's designed to be a contact manager, it's about managing information," says Stearns. "The software is the critical part of it. The scanner is designed to get business cards into the software and into your computer, so it's designed to do that efficiently." 

Considering the wide range of funky fonts and layouts, and random information and non-information that many business cards have--not to mention the notes you might scribble when you get a card--the accuracy is quite good. 

Once you scan a card, or batch of cards, the software suggests you check and verify results. You can flag vetted card records as VERIFIED; you can also sort for duplicates. The company also offers CardScan At Your Service, a free online backup service for your contact information, particularly useful if you're doing this while out of the office. 

The actual scan takes about three seconds, followed by the automated conversion and field-sorting (which can be done as a batch). 

Working with several dozen cards collected at a recent event, it took me about 60 seconds to 90 seconds per card for the scan, verify, correct, and tag/add notes--slightly less time than manually typing entering information. Of course, you can follow through only on the cards you care about, leaving the rest marked UNVERIFIED--with the scanned images on file, you won't need the actual cards anymore.  

You can then use the CardScan software to search or sort the records, export them to a contact management database, print labels and other contact-type stuff. According to Stearns, CardScan Personal software works with Outlook, Palm and Windows Mobile; CardScan Executive also can sync with Lotus Notes, ACT and GoldMine. 

In addition to the Executive and Personal CardScan models, CardScan offers versions that work with specific CRM products, e.g. Microsoft CRM, SalesLogix, SalesForce and ACT Premium. (These products don't have all the features in the regular CardScan product line.)

If business cards are your most important marketing resource, you need one of these appliances.

Daniel P. Dern is an independent technology writer. He can be reached at 


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