Is this old-fashioned tradition a new-tech opportunity?

During a recent online meeting, I found myself frantically moving a rather large collection of business cards while searching through a drawer for a pen. As is my habit, I unconsciously set them aside to review and add to my contact list before sending them to their death in the recycle bin. The process turned out to be a long one. First of all, I had to read each card. Now, this task may sound redundant to even mention, but I can assure you that it was not. While it is nice that there are applications that allow us to easily create our own business cards, this little exercise made it quite apparent to me that some people really should not be allowed to be their own graphic designer. Staring at the stack of business cards, I found myself contemplating their relevance, considering we are living in the active growth cycle of technology. Is it even relevant to physically hand people a business card? Or is there a better way?

Handing someone an unreadable business card will not build a lasting relationship


As I later sorted through the collection, I found that in several cases I could not read the writing because it was a light color on a light background. While some may be quick to jump on the causation being age and something about the refraction of light by our eyes deteriorating over time, the reality is that when there is little contrast between colors, the readability deteriorates. So, while age may be a factor, this will be an issue with many people regardless of their years.

The next group of business cards was unreadable due to the use of a script font that should have died with the demise of the Ancient Roman Empire. There were a few cards for which I was unable to make out the company name nor the name of the person who supposedly handed me that very business card at some point in time. They were very pretty. But they were also quite useless.

As the first two groups of business cards were sent to the recycle bin, that ended my relationship with roughly 20 percent of the people who somehow had felt the need to provide me with their business card. I am left to ponder the many business relationships that could have been.

A number of business cards pointed to a website address. Many in this category were also tossed into the recycle bin as in several cases, the website address in no way divulged the service or product that they were peddling. When it was all said and done, I added five contact names to my address book. The process of adding these names was completely manual and rather irritating. The iOS interface is rudimentary at best, and recent updates have only increased the opportunity for error.

Just get a better design

I have tried apps that promise the ease of scanning to an Outlook contact list. The time spent correcting scanning errors took as much time as entering the data from scratch. With our addiction to technology, why have we not adopted a better process?

Are business cards still relevant?

Business cards have been an important element of branding since the start of the industrial age. Along with signifying who we are and what we represent, they contain the important contact information required to ensure our prospective clientele are able to contact us, should the need or desire arise. Let us not discount the importance of the business card hand-off. Up until recently, it has been a socially acceptable opportunity to reach out to an otherwise unknown person. Eye contact is made and information is exchanged that may potentially result in a new business relationship. Remember eye contact?

Will we be amenable to the business card exchange post-COVID?

Like the handsake, which I am quite happy to say goodbye to, will the business card exchange become socially unacceptable due to the potential of contact with germs or a virus? There is definitely a risk that this may be the case.

Enter the contactless digital business card

With one tap, pre-configured information can be transferred to the smartphone of the recipient. The information can be updated easily to accommodate a change of address, company name, or any other important details. The software is configurable and affordable and is readily available.

With all of the advantages of using digital business cards and the reality that they have been actively talking about since 2013, one has to wonder why physical business cards continue to exist. I blame the bad guys.

Don’t forget cybersecurity

The problem with the adoption of the digital business card is that the recipient has no way of confirming the security of the card that is tapping their smart device. Done in reverse, similar technology can be used to grab data from the unsuspecting recipient. It is because of this little irritant, and the fact that organizations now educate their staff regarding cybersecurity risk, that adoption has been slow.

Am I really admitting that technology may not have won this one?

Regardless of our insatiable appetite for technology, there seems to be a good business case to continue using the traditional business card. However, in light of the easy and inexpensive access to software that allows us to create our own, what we have done is lost sight of the importance of design. The relevance of the design is definitely under scrutiny, and so technology doesn’t completely lose out here. There are numerous applications that can guide us through the business card setup. For this, we go to software companies with some maturity. It’s not just because I’m rather mature. It’s because with business maturity, these organizations understand our interests to be overly creative. Adobe and Microsoft both offer their solutions that guide the user through the process and use templates to ensure we are not left to our own devices. Remember that business cards are a communication tool for your business and it is important to choose the right communication tools.

And so…

It would seem that the physical business card still plays a very active role within the business world. While technology is important to ensure that the critical components of a business card are considered, digital business cards open up numerous concerns in the world of cybersecurity. Until those loopholes are securely closed, it may be in our best interest to continue the ritual of the business card exchange. We just need to ensure we engage technology and sound business choices so that our business cards are readable and attract the right clientele.

Featured image: Pixabay

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