Scanning Business Cards Using a ScanSnap

Scanning Business Cards Using a ScanSnap

Steve Dotto here. How the heck are you this
fine day? Me, I’m great because I’m back in the office after an energizing conference
that I was at last week. I was at Social Media Camp 2014 in Victoria. You know when you come
back in the office how you’re all fired up and just ready to go but you have so much
data, so much to get out of your brain, so many notes to transfer and business cards
to transfer into your system and you just want to get going? That’s what we’re going
to look at today. We’re going to take a look at starting with getting all of the business
cards out of the business card form and into digital form. So stick around.
Today, we’re going to be taking a look at converting all business cards into digital
format and there are a lot of ways to do that. We can use different scanners and different
business card cameras on our smartphones which is a great way to do things and those either
use automated processors or sometimes real people to enter the data so that we can easily
migrate it into our Contact Manager. But I’m going to try and throw some really good hardware
at the situation today. I’ve got what many people consider to be the Cadillac of scanning
brands. I’ve got a Fujitsu ScanSnap. I’ve got the mid-range scanner, the S1300i but
I want to try and take the scanner and I want to try and scan my cards and see what kind
of accuracy I get and if it’s indeed an efficient way to scan them all in.
Now before we begin though, I do need to do a quick shout out to people who make it possible
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Now back to the conference. So I was going to be super organized this conference because
I know I was going to learn a lot. There were so many good speakers and I knew I was just
getting a lot of really valuable information. So I went out and purchased a super notebook.
This is not just any notebook. No, no, no. This is the Moleskine Evernote edition. Everyone
knows how I feel about Evernote so I thought an Evernote edition of a notebook has to be
totally awesome. So I bought this and we’re going to be taking a look at it in an upcoming
video, whether or not the moleskin Evernote notebook keeps me more organized than a regular
notebook would. It turns out, though, I think maybe the most
exciting part of this notebook was a very simple feature that I discovered in the back
of the notebook. They’ve got a pouch and this pouch was awesome because all my receipts
and all the business cards and little bits of information I collected through the conference,
I just tucked into that pouch so it was all there in one place when I got home as opposed
to being in multiple pockets, multiple shirt pockets, multiple bags and folded into multiple
places. So just the organizational factor of carrying a pouch with me, like Steve the
Kangaroo, was incredibly valuable. All right, so I’ve got all these business
cards now ready to input into the scanner. I’m ready to start scanning it. Now the
challenge that scanners have in this day and age is people are so fancy and graphical with
their business cards that scanners quite often have a big challenge and I think in a lot
of cases that you kind of need the human eye looking at it in order to decipher the information.
But the ScanSnap is really highly thought of so if anything is going to be able to do
it automatically, it’s this box here. So I’ve started off the software. I have
to launch the ScanSnap Manager which is what drives the scanner and then they include with
the scanner this piece of software here which is called Cardiris which is the reading software.
It’s basically OCR software that will take the images as we scan them in and it will
convert it hopefully into the correct fields so that we can then export it into our Contact
Manager of choice. In my case, that will be Google Contacts. In your case, it may well
be Outlook. I am going to scan in the cards. Now I hope
that it just lets me process the cards. It goes through. Here comes the first one. It’s
just a blank back side and it doesn’t have a lot of information. But it sees it. Good.
The only thing is it’s set the country to United States. I might be able to make the
preference Canada, for defaulting to Canada. It looks like it did a pretty good job on
that. Now that was, to be fair, a fairly straightforward music card.
Let’s see how it does in the next one which is a wee more graphically more complicated
card. We’ll put that in. Now there’s a nice little alignment too here to allow you
to feed these through. As soon as I put the business card into the scanner, I just hit
the button and it scans it in and it. Okay, so it’s rotated in the correct direction.
Okay, it doesn’t have any of the right information in the top area but that’s okay I can go
through it and I’m going to clean up. So I keep the cards kind of in the same order
that I‘m scanning them in and I’m just going to go through. I’m going to keep moving.
Now it’s going to stay busy. I’m going to keep moving as individuals go. I’m going
to have to do a lot of blurring here to make sure all the personal information isn’t
getting out. So that one there, is it going to rotate it?
No. So here it wasn’t able to rotate it. It says okay, I’ve got to verify it as a
business card first. It wasn’t able to recognize the text. That was completely understandable
why it was not able to recognize that text. But let’s actually delete that because we
don’t need that one. That’s just the back side with no contact information. Here’s
all of the person’s contact info. So let’s choose the card and let’s rotate it. I think
I’m going to have to rotate it to the right. Now it’s lined up, does it automatically
read? See now it’s not scanning in the reversed card. Isn’t that interesting? Okay, I’ll
play with that. I’ll continue to play with that and we’ll give you a report on that
in the end. Let’s go with the vertical format part.
This one here’s a little bit different. Let’s see how it does on this one. There’s
the vertical one. Okay, it confused the person’s name with New Media but I actually don’t
see the person’s name here. Again, here’s what I’m starting to get a feel for. These
card scanners do a great job, I think, as well as they can. I have a feeling that the
ScanSnap is building its reputation on more receipt scanning than business card scanning
just because of the vagaries of business card scanning that looking at some of the camera-based
services that allow us to take photos, take images and have real people look at it and
decipher the information might well be the way to go.
Looking at this one here, this person’s in Toronto. I believe they’re in Toronto.
They went GTA, GVA. Well, somebody lives here where I live, I live in Vancouver and I can
tell you right now and maybe only people in Toronto and Vancouver are going to recognize
these acronyms. GVA is Greater Vancouver Area and GTA is the Greater Toronto Area. I can
also tell is by the area codes. But how is a piece of software going to know
that? I mean really. So these scanners, well they are awesome for receipts, which I have
tested them for in the past and they do an amazing job on receipts. At this point, a
little bit disappointing on the business card front. I’m not sure I’m going to be able
to recommend it. But I’ll be able to tell you a lot better as I go through it more.
Again, it’s unable to recognize so it’s becoming a fairly labor intensive process.
I’m going to rotate this one in but I’m holding out on no hope that it’s going to
read it because it’s another one of the reversed pieces of text and it seems to be
having issues. Yes, it’s not automatically populating whereas the other ones, it’s
populated information in where it’s found it.
So I’m going to finish this off. I will give a pause on the video, I will come back
and I will give you a synopsis of the importing of the data but it looks to me like it’s
going to be fairly labor intensive even using the scanner itself which is, I’ve got to
admit, a little bit disappointing. But hey, that’s why we do these videos. That’s
why we test this product. It’s not all going to be just a walk in the park. Sometimes,
technology just doesn’t do what we hope or want it to do and I know it’s not the
Fujitsu’s fault. The ScanSnap is rated in every estimation as the premium business scanner
on the market but some tasks are even beyond even it so we will do it. This is motivating
me to take a look at some of the other services as well as we move along. Having said that,
I’m going to take a quick break. When we come back I will give you a summary of what
I found as far as finishing off this project and I’m signing off. Stick around.
All right, I’ve entered ten cards and I’ve also had lunch so don’t look at my time
stamp to understand how long it’s taking me. But I have to say that at this point here,
I’m not certain that with the subtleties of modern business cards that this is the
best way to do things. This card here, for example, came in fantastically, Ryan MacKenzie,
came in fantastically. Every other one, I had to massage the information in so much
that I think I would have been faster just typing from scratch, maybe a little bit less
fast but still it wasn’t outstanding. Having said that, if you do use it, if you
have little more success than I’ve had at this point here it becomes very, very cool
because now what I can do is take this entire collection of cards from here to here, all
ten cards—I thought I met more people there but I guess that wasn’t very much—and
export them all into this case here vCard format. Here we go. There I’ve got them
exported as vCards onto my Desktop and now what I’m going to do is leap over into my
Contacts. This is one area that Google Contacts really
works nicely. I’m going to import that collection of cards into Google Contacts and when I do
that it creates a date stamp on the cards. It looks at all of the individuals as a card
as a group and so what we’ll have is here in my Contacts will be the latest date. It
will be, there it is, imported by 5/14. So there are the ten cards right there all imported
together. When I do that now, I have to verify them but now I can send an email to everybody
who I met at this camp at the same time, just sending them in my information and saying
how good it was to meet them. I can create a little mail list. I know where I met them,
I know because it’s all together and I’m able to do that all at once. I really like
that feature. I think that’s very, very cool.
Overall, I’d have to say that I think we’re going to find better methods for importing
business cards. Having said, that I know the ScanSnap is an outstanding tool for business
scanning, for scanning in receipts and other documents so let’s not look at this as an
indictment of its capability, more a comment as to the artistic freedoms that most people
are taking now, designing their business cards and it might give you pause for thought when
you design that next business card, about making it very easy for someone to be able
to import it into their Contact Manager which is very important of course. That does bring
us to the end of this video. Please, there are three ways for you to connect
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if it’s something that you might be interested in. With that, I am done. I’m Steve Dotto.
Have fun storming the castle!

Comments (12)

  1. One of the guidelines I've heard for making CVs and business cards is that they should have a graphic of some kind as that makes them stand out, making them memorable. That kind of practice seems to directly go against the digitizing said cards.
    Personally, I would prefer to see people working on improving NFC. NFC could be used as a paperless replacement for business cards, but also various other tasks, such as paying fares in public transport.
    Good to see you playing around with a product that isn't uberdeliciousawesomesauce once in a while.

  2. Clearly the business card side of businesses is still using an outdated model. With everyone going digital, it seems that business cards have been forgotten. They still use standards from 20 years ago. We now have OCR, digital signatures, color recognition and so many other cool little things that can be done when something is scanned, and none of it is taken advantage of on the business card side of it.

    The folks at Evernote have begun to think about this and as a result they now look at Linkedin to enrich the content of a scanned business card. Still, I think that the actual card should include certain markers to help ease the digital transition.

    Hey! If I'm giving out my business card to someone, I have to consider they might scan that for easy access through devices. I will surely would want to help them do that by designing my card in such a way that it plays nice with hardware and software. I don't think we have standards yet but I think we need them very much now.

    If more and more people are going paperless, then that means that the printed busiiness card is now a temporary information container, while the recipient scans it or takes a photo of it, to extract only the core information (company name, person's name, phone, address). The card then is thrown away or stored in some place never to be seen again.

    Current tech is having a difficult time being successful at applying OCR to business cards because these are still working with a model from decades ago. Business cards designers need to "up" their game with this – it's just good business for everybody, don't you think?

  3. Can you do a video on scan snap handling of receipts : ) ? I have being thinking of SS for that use?

  4. I scan mine into Evernote in a Biz Card folder, save as a pdf, then its searchable. I can use the note that the card creates and add any contacts or actions I take. You could also send them to an assistant this way as well.

  5. Blur the business card info but not the gmail contact info?  Seems a bit silly.  Anyhoo, thank you for doing the review on this!  Was looking at it the other day and almost pulled the trigger.  I think I'll probably look elsewhere.

  6. I personally use NeatWork Business Card to do my contact management and generate the searchable pdf file from the NeatWork.  The recognition rate is very well and so easy to be imported into Evernote.  Please consider testing and reviewing this feature one day in your channel.

    BTW, is there any scanners (portable and wifi capable even better) available in the market which allow the scanned pdf searchable instead of processed though any stand alone software installed in any computers (PC or Mac)?

  7. Hey did you know that Fujitsu actually has a scanner that, once it scans, it sends it's data DIRECTLY into an Evernote notebook! Evernote is becoming such a valuable tool in my life!

  8. i'm using a Mac and Contacts as my PIM. In my ideal world, I'd like to 1) scan card, 2) edit card, 3)press a button and send it directly into Contacts. I can do 1 & 3, but it's not letting me edit these boogers. advice from anyone? thank you in advance.

  9. Hi, can we scan ID cards with it? thanks

  10. Hi Steve, I have scanned a number of business cards with ScanSnap into Cardminder rather than Evernote. I would like to transfer them to Evernote, do you know if I can do that and if so…how?? 🙂 Thanks.

  11. Hi Steve, I am a Business Development Rep with Fujitsu. I noticed you are not using the ScanSnap software CardMinder as your business card manager in this review of ScanSnap software. It appears the software is called CardIris for ScanSnap. This is a third party software. The ScanSnap hardware scans the documents, captures the image, and then sends it to the software to be processed. The software being used is going to be what determines how successfully business cards are managed. CardMinder Optical Character Recognition is almost at a 100% accuracy rate. If you have further questions please reach out to me at [email protected]

  12. Please just get to the topic of the video – 3:30 minuted and only now getting to the topic.

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