There are 10 Billion Business Cards printed in the US annually. 88 percent of the Business Cards that are handed out gets thrown away in less than a week. Yet, 57 percent of those who were surveyed feel that having business cards is essential to their business.
It isn’t the physical card but the art of exchange that people are not willing to let go. There is something about this time warped tradition of exchange and seeing a person’s information represented in a graphic form. Swapping the card leads to an icebreaker at meetings and helps one remember whom and when they met.
If you are like me, you would remember the time when you held your first business card. The culmination of your entire life till then, in preparation for that career start you wanted, all symbolised in that neat little rectangular piece of paper. Business cards have a long history and existed in all parts of the world. But its the 20th century that cemented its role in the world of business. The act of exchanging these cards itself is a serious act. In some parts of the world the exchange is a ritual by itself.
One would think that in 2017, with self-driving cars, auto-piloted personal drones and AI taking control, these pieces of card would have disappeared. But it has lingered on. You would probably be carrying a few on you, right now. Tree huggers would note that it takes almost one whole mature tree to print the name cards an active sales man would use in his lifetime. Why has name cards survived? Why hasn’t the smart brains of the tech world, disrupted this age old practice?
The answer is blowing in the wind.Not really. I just got carried away. The fact is that many did. Or came close to, like the popular app called CardMunch – acquired by LinkedIn in 2011 for a neat $2.4M. They rode well on the 135 Million strong LinkedIn member base then.
More dramatic than that was Bump, an app that came out in 2009, a crowd puller with its interesting manner of connecting people with a physical gesture – one had to ‘bump’ their phone with that of the person they needed to connect or share documents with. Bump was picked up by Google in 2013 for a cool $30M. And there are many digital business card providers, like BizCard – a personal favourite.
The point I am making is that none of these has had that virality big enough to place it as an ubiquitous application on every phone – a la FaceBook or WhatsApp. Certainly not to the point where one could confidently leave his cards home before leaving to a trade fair. You just cannot expect everyone to have a digital card exchange app, at least not one compatible to the one you have subscribed to.
The reasons attributed to the early demise of some of these ‘would have been game changers’ are many, but a simple lateral analysis of the history of these – given that some of them were bankrolled by deep pockets – can only lead to one conclusion – User Engagement.
This is where the card apps failed to achieve its universal appeal.
A traveling Salesman living on trade fairs, might have to pull out his business card a few times in any given day, but for others, that would be a gesture that is repeated fewer times. Much fewer. The card apps are therefore relegated to as less frequently used and eventually it gets killed. Further, for the more traditional users, the simple act of exchanging cards and taking time to appreciate it, is still cherished. A quick click to exchange a CSV file would not give that necessary pause.
While exchanging cards can be digital, it is the utility of the app beyond exchange that make it stick. If the act can mimic that of a traditional exchange then it would be just awesome. That’s the beauty of ONNE.
ONNE is an app platform that not only enables exchanging of digital business cards in its true graphic form but also helps the user to do much more in his routine life.
Users can use it as a platform to open individual apps of businesses that matter to them in their daily life, from one place. Order food from their favourite restaurant, do takeaways, buy grocery, book appointments with their doctor, view their kid’s class schedules, receive daily thoughts from their church, so on and so forth. Bringing in that engagement factor is what that would make an app desirable for the users. Quite possibly the one that you would reach for, the next time you want to exchange your business card.