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ScanBizCards and CircleBack Join Forces

While we were still in stealth mode building a great contact management product, we realized that the humble business card is not dead yet. We wanted to build a comprehensive product that provides users with a one-stop shop for contact management. The three main pillars of the solution are:

Here are few screens from the redesigned ScanBizCards iOS app

Here are few screens from the
redesigned ScanBizCards iOS app

  1. Consolidating and cleaning the contacts in one place
  2. Providing the most up to date contact information – no more stale contacts in your address book
  3. Synchronizing clean, complete and up-to-date contacts back to the users’ preferred applications

Initially we concentrated on integration with all the popular digital repositories of contact information like LinkedIn, Outlook, Gmail, etc. However, as we surveyed our early beta users we discovered that printed business cards were still a significant source of new contact information. If we wanted to offer a truly comprehensive contact management solution, we were going to have to provide a means for inputting printed business cards.

Mobile business card scanners are some of the most popular business applications. These apps come in two flavors. The first type are those that use transcription based services, where the user takes a picture of the business card and then a human being transcribes the information into digital format, such as Card Munch (owned by LinkedIn) and Full Contact’s Card Reader. The second type incorporates Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to automatically digitize and index the information directly from the image. We decided that our users would require access to both capabilities.

While we were exploring the options to build, buy or license, we were humbled with how difficult it is to build an OCR engine. Licensing wasn’t cost effective, as some of the known OCR engines were charging $2/download, which is a hard cost to justify in a mainly free app. We looked at the companies with the most popular mobile business scanners and realized that a small company based in New York City called ScanBizCards would be the best candidate for the following reasons:

  1. Best in category OCR
  2. ScanBizCards focused on business users
  3. With over 2 million users using the app, they were consistently in the Top 10 Paid Business Apps
  4. The team at ScanBizCards was not only technically gifted, but our goals were aligned to provide the best contacts management solution to professionals

After few discussions with Patrick and Danny (the Co-Founders), we realized that ScanBizCards was a perfect fit in terms of vision, personnel and software. CircleBack recently completed the acquisition and integrated the core business card scanning technology in the CircleBack product.

ScanBizCards will continue to function as an independent app. The combined development team released an Enterprise Version of ScanBizCards for Salesforce late last year. In addition, we are excited to share that the teams have been working tirelessly on a new version of the application with a much improved design that will be released in the Google and Apple stores very soon.

We are very excited and look forward to bringing awesome products to our users.

Don’t Drown at Dreamforce ‘13

As the ScanBizCards team is preparing for Dreamforce (which I have started calling “The Quickening,” from the Highlander movie), we have all individually and as a group reached moments of complete sensory and information overload. With 125, 000 expected attendees, every company in our space sponsoring a booth, so many customers to meet, 1,000s of sessions, scores of parties, logistical travel nightmares, all those damn Dreamforce guidelines and regulations, etc, etc- it is easy for the most Zen person to spin themselves into tizzy. And the event is still 10 days away!
In response, our marketing team has been hounding me to post a Dreamforce guide like the ones that you have undoubtedly seen from all the marquee Salesforce.com partners. You know the type- the mainly content free, corporate speak tips that tell you to wear comfortable shoes and drink plenty of water, and “be sure to catch our founder’s session” on Thursday afternoon about synergistic multi-channel social customer engagement marketing analytics on the AppExchange or some such twattle. Hardly worth the 2 minutes of your “microtask” time while in line at Starbucks.
But many of these posts have been written by people who have been to the event twice- so the reasoning is that since I have been 8 times (at least 5 as a sponsor and several more as an employee), then I will be able to impart that insider knowledge that can make all the heartache and 60% of your annual marketing budget worth it.
Sorry.
But here are a few suggestions that might help you out:
– This is going to be the year that Dreamforce outgrows San Francisco. Pre-plan your transportation needs, particularly at night when you are partying, and don’t let someone that is not going to be there tell you that you can “just catch a taxi.”
– Physical space at the show is going to be scarce. Don’t assume that you can just “grab a seat” somewhere to meet with a prospect. Other than line dancing, nothing makes you look more of a jackass to someone you are trying to impress than pimping a chair with an armload of food and your demo going on an iPad.
– Don’t act like a customer and just “show up.” Scope out everything in advance and expect that everything is going to be like getting pole stuffed into a Japanese subway.
– Dreamforce at night is like New Year’s Eve. Meaning don’t get plastered too early, don’t try to attend 5 parties so you spend all your time in between (pick one and make it count), assume that you are not going to be able keep a posse of 15 co-workers intact, and plan on walking back to the hotel.
– Dreamforce can be an incredible boon to your business. So prepare all you can and throw everything you got into trying to see and be seen. But remember that there are 100,000 other people doing the same thing, so it’s going to be a circus. Roll with it- and have fun.
And come see ScanBizCards and me in booth n1016!
You could win a cool new Samsung SmartWatch.

Want to make a Salesforce.com employee laugh? Ask him to “hook you up with a pass” for Dreamforce, their upcoming partner and customer conference. If you really want to get some spit in your face, call it a “trade show.” Then you can make yourself cry by going online to book the closest available Bay Area hotel room for the week of November 18. For just under $400 per night, you can set up your team at the Notell-motel, which adjoins the Stop-n-get-Jacked gas station just east of the 80 Interstate in Vacaville.

What’s the rumpus, you ask? Even in a company growing as fast as Salesforce.com, Dreamforce is such a big deal that it has taken on a life of its own. There are over 120,000 registered attendees this year. The event gala has Green Day playing in SBC Park. The event itself has over 1000 sessions and the sponsor exhibits are spilling out of all 4 Moscone halls. Dreamforce has far surpassed the CRM market to become THE DESTINATION for technology companies of all types to meet customer and partner decision makers.

It has been 10 years since Marc Benioff hatched the first Dreamforce in 2003 with a modest 1130 attendees and 50 presenters. I was selling software for an ISV Partner that was sponsoring the event, so of course I hustled up a badge and went to check out the lone marketing oasis amongst the dust bowl-like technology industry backdrop that was 2001-2004. Although I’m sure that I had every intention of attending such riveting sessions as “Salesforce.com and Research In Motion Deliver Wireless Access To Sales and Customer Data via BlackBerry,” I spent most of the day chatting up other tech execs at the Westin St. Francis bar. But there was no escaping the buzz – these guys were looking to dominate more than the online CRM market.

Fast forward to 2007, where the show filled out Moscone North and South. Platinum level sponsors shelled out $150K. If you wanted to feel the marketing love your company had to be on the AppExchange. INXS debuted their new reality show front guy (J.D. Fortune maybe?) and Benioff chummed it up onstage with George Lucas. I spoke for Jigsaw at one of the partner sessions and got my first taste of all the behind-the-scenes pressure – and then hit all of the top shelf parties in Soma that week. Dreamforce had ascended to the top of the technology trade show heap, and you couldn’t help but get waved over with excitement.

After we sold Jigsaw to Salesforce in May 2010, I snuck further behind the curtain. Like Disney World, the whole experience is crafted to the smallest detail (heaven forbid some kid sees Donald Duck with his costume head off, smoking a cigarette). Jigsaw had been planning to do a user conference of our own that summer, but that event was summarily squelched. Jigsaw filled out a nice booth inside the owner tent and got a few logo pops on the big screen, but we still had limited passes – none to give out – and I didn’t even come close to hanging with Will.i.am.  The famous personal story from that year: I got punched by a girl at one of the after parties! 

For Dreamforce ’13, I am back in the “cheap” seats with ScanBizCards – meaning we spent $20K for a kiosk in one of the exhibition halls. I have been feverishly networking within Salesforce to get some attention on ScanBizCards Enterprise for Salesforce, the AppExchange managed package that we are announcing at the show. If my efforts have paid off, SBC may show up in a few other places around the conference. To find out how SBC Enterprise can help you – or if you just want to hear more Dreamforce stories – look for me in booth #n1016. And of course at all the A-list parties (I’ve got a reputation to uphold…).

Reasons to try and find ScanBizCards in the North Hall (Booth#n1016):

  • Try ScanBizCards Pro for free
  • We’re giving out a cool T-Shirt (you know you love a t-shirt)
  • We’ve got 3 of those space age Samsung Smart Watches to give away
  • I’ve been known to get punchy and do crazy stuff in booths
  • I’ll be tracking you anyway, you might as well just get it over with

 

Who Cares about Business Cards?

Since I returned to the technology sales and marketing world with CircleBack/ScanBizCards, this question has been posed to me (with varying levels of sensitivity) by many people.  After I give them a look like they just told me that my baby is ugly, I smile and say “you do- you just don’t realize it.”

 It’s not like I’m playing the role Grandpa Simpson (“in my day we didn’t have iPhones; we had toilet paper roles and string”) and don’t understand the question. Business cards are literally paper in a digital world. There are tons of ways to acquire a person’s contact details that don’t involve a face-to-face passing of the business card.  Every sales pundit is extolling the virtues of “social selling,” although nobody seems to really agree on what that is beyond barraging strangers with Linked In and Twitter posts. Bump, the mobile app that allows you to transfer your contact information directly to another mobile device by touching the phones together, just had a “successful” exit. (I used the dick air quotes for a company that raised $20MM and took 4 years to sell for $30MM.) In our Pulse’d, Wired, TechCrunched world business cards seem like an anachronism.

 However, the majority of business people are still using business cards. If you disagree, attend a trade show. Even at the most whizbang technology Meetup, attendees are dropping their digits on conference tables, bars, and into bowls in booths.  Sales people still collect them at meetings – in fact I would argue that when a decision maker hands you his/her card, it signifies a validation of your meeting and “opt-in” for future contact. That’s much more promising than accepting a mass Linked In request. Asian cultures are still all about the ceremony of trading business cards. (I will never forget the looks I received from several Japanese prospects as my former CEO used their General Manager’s card to pick his teeth.) Four of the top 10 most downloaded business apps on the Appstore are business cards scanners. When someone hands you a business card, what other record of that information is more accurate or up-to-date? 

 The main value, however, is not the medium of transfer of business card information. It is the power of the data. Business contact information is the foundation of all social apps, not to mention CRM and Marketing. ScanBizCards allows you to digitize the information on a business card and upload it into whatever business application you desire. We just upgraded our Managed App on the Salesforce.com AppExchange, which means that salespeople can update Leads, Contacts, and Opportunities with the click of their smartphone camera. How many hours of late night desktop data entry will that save?

 Who cares about business cards? I do. You do. Voodoo. 

 

Garth’s World is Back

“I joke when I say that I’m the best; a lot of truth is said in jest.” -Eminem

My name is Garth and I am the post 40 version of the liquored-up sales joker that co-founded Jigsaw, which is now owned by Salesforce.com.  I used to write the blog for Jigsaw; in fact you can check it out here: http://jigsawsworld.typepad.com/garthsworld/top-ten-reasons-to-read.html

until Salesforce legal figures it out and takes it down. (I’m betting they have bigger fish to fry with all their recent billion dollar purchases) Now I intend to continue my type of blogging for ScanBizCards (SBC), which is the most accurate business card scanning mobile app.

A bit of context: After the purchase of Jigsaw, I cruised through an “earnout” year by alternately attending trade shows, startup workshops and other celebrations of how awesome we were and hanging at the beaches near my home in Charlotte, NC. This was a ton of fun- I highly recommend this type of work if you can get it!

During this time I met Chris Halligan, who was a big shot at Dell and Web Methods before founding a company called Kieden and selling it to Salesforce (just when I thought I was special).  He also lives in Charlotte, and had an idea for a company in the social TV/ Second Screen space that sounded like fun. I decided to join him in founding OtherScreen in 2011. We had some early successes, and getting funded was pretty easy (VC’s don’t listen to you at all until you’ve had an exit- then they listen to you too much), but ultimately we couldn’t get enough traction on the user side and nobody in the industry was making any money. I have intimate knowledge as to this fact because I spent a bunch of 2012 cold calling into network executives and advertising folks that had never heard of Salesforce.com, much less Jigsaw, and were only too happy to delete my voicemails and Linked In requests.

Meanwhile, ScanBizCards CEO Manoj Ramnani was hammering away on his vision of creating a true one-stop shop for all contact information (right up my alley). He had contacted me in 2010 to see if I wanted in, but I was too busy basking in Jigsaw glory. Fortunately, Manoj is very persistent and every time we spoke, he had just blown away another milestone that he had set up during the last call. I agreed to join the Advisory Board, invested twice, and am now working full time cementing corporate relationships for ScanBizCards

Why ScanBizCards (SBC) matters for corporations: mobile business professionals, particularly salespeople, are using SBC to quickly scan business cards into Salesforce.com, SugarCRM, Oracle Fusion CRM, Evernote, etc. This saves the salespeople a huge data entry headache and allows their company applications to have vastly more correct and complete business contact records.

This blog, or at least my contributions, will be 10% SBC marketing, 90% me blasting off about things that I see while selling.  Because no matter what your title is, everyone is selling something.

Last Monday, or 100 years ago in Twitter time, I attended the Sales 2.0 Conference in Boston.  While at Jigsaw, I was the first corporate sponsor of the 6-year-old event, and as such took on the role of regular speaker, promoter and general rabble rouser/ foil to the event host, Gerhard Gschwandtner. As the founder of Jigsaw it was understood that I was a thought leader and innovator in the world of sales- so I didn’t have to actually say or do anything particularly insightful as I rubbed shoulders with the rest of the self titled “Sales 2.0 Mafia” and their corporate customers.  Even though it has been three years since I left that industry, I assumed that I could waltz in and retake my place at the altar, all the while pimping my new gig at ScanBizCards (SBC)….

Well, wouldn’t you know it, there have actually been some pretty dramatic changes to the sales world since 2010. Before I even landed in Boston, my recently dusted off Twitter account was lighting up with messages from the likes of Koka Sexton (Social Media guy at Linked In). It turns out that my once revolutionary tactic of Linking In with all the other sponsors and speakers pre- event is neither white hat or black hat marketing, but simply old hat. A quick perusal of the experts’ talks revealed that the rest of the world is hip to the fact that “the pitch is dead” and “sales enablement with thought leader content delivered through social channels” (yikes- what does that even mean?) is all the rage.

Slightly humbled, I decided to show up the night before and eat dinner with some friendlies- Larissa Gschwandtner and David DeStefano from The Richardson Company. In a testament to the new social world order, we were quickly joined by 10 other sales and marketing folks, including none other than the aforementioned social guru Koka! I figured out that he had “38” (as in thousand) Linked In followers- what what whaht?

The next day was filled with similar learnings, which I will bullet point as a nod to the fact that this is like 10 times 140 characters:

  • Ken Powell from SunGard implemented 5 major Sales 2.0 solutions in 6 weeks

  • Gamification has gone enterprise with cool companies like Bunchball and Hoopla

  • Video is the new sales communication medium and Personify has some crazy cool technology

  • I am old as sh^t

Thankfully, I didn’t head for the hills, but hung around the entire day talking to anyone that wandered within ten feet of me.  And sure enough, after I harangued them into downloading SBC (get it free for 3 months at scanbizcards.com/sales20), I realized that at the base of it, sales is still all about making a personal connection. All the social media and technology in the world cannot replace the good old fashioned face-to-face conversation, and exchanging business cards at the end still adds an acknowledgement and validation of that personal connection. When I left the event at 10PM, I realized that the old axiom of “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” was in full effect.

Version 3.19 Update (iOS)

Version 3.19 for iOS is live on the App Store since yesterday (Tuesday) evening. We will update the iPad HD app with the same next week. No update planned for our Power Contacts app this month.

What’s New ?

Manual Transcription Push Notifications
Until this update submitting cards for manual transcription by our team had the serious shortcoming of lacking real-time notifications when your cards were ready. This is now fixed: when you update the app to this version you’ll be prompted to allow the app to push notifications to your phone – please say ‘Yes’. Here is how it works:

  • You submit one or more cards for manual transcriptions (from the iOS app or from the Web Sync web interface).
  • You can quit the mobile app and go about your business. As soon as transcription results are available you will get a little notice on the top part of your iPhone screen.
  • Touch the notice and it opens ScanBizCards right onto the transcriptions folder where you’ll be able to find the transcription results. Note: please wait a few seconds to let the app download these results to your phone

Note: manual transcriptions require an active Web Sync account and purchasing manual credits from the web interface at www.scanbizcards.com/websync

iPhone 5 Camera Overlay
The camera overlay when taking photos of business cards failed to cover a portion of the right side of the screen, now fixed.

Take New Photo button
The option to directly snap the next business card photo was crashing – now fixed.

Instructions for copying cards
Upgrading from Lite to Premium means installing a new app and left users confused about what happened to cards held in the Premium app. We have now added clear instructions pointing to our FAQ page.
Our FAQ is seriously lacking and has little else beyond the instructions for copying cards from Lite to Premium! We’ll add much more information to it soon …

Version 3.18 Update (iOS – iPhone + iPad)

Version 3.18 for iOS / Version 1.03 for the iPad are live on the App Store since Sunday, January 13. The major news in this update is a major upgrade of the OCR component – we’d love to hear from the experienced users among you if you were able to notice improvements in the OCR accuracy.

What’s New ?

New OCR Engine – iPhone and iPad

We have upgraded both the iOS and iPad apps with a new version of the OCR engine. Its is about 10% faster and we hope significantly more accurate. Please let us know!

iPhone 5 User Interface (iPhone Lite version only)
The Lite version of the app didn’t have the proper user interface to take advantage of the taller iPhone 5 screen – fixed now.

NEW: Oracle Fusion CRM export – iPhone and iPad
Just like Salesforce and SugarCRM, we are delighted to announce a new export ability to Oracle Fusion CRM! Please help us test it so we can iterate and fix issues – if any – quickly.

SugarCRM Enhancements – iPhone and iPad
We’ve added the ability to assign contacts and leads to campaigns as well as to accounts.

iPad: Fixed Sorting Option
The sort button in the iPad was crashing, now fixed.

iPad: Fixed Evernote Export
The Evernote export had stopped working following a change on the Evernote side – now fixed.

Custom Export
If your business involves processing information on business cards or email signatures, you can augment ScanBizCards to add a new custom export option directly to your application! Please email for details.

New: Ability to assign an account when exporting to Salesforce as a Contact
By popular demand: you may now assign Salesforce Contacts created by the app to any account defined in your Salesforce backend.

Heads up: Power Contacts 1.13

For those of you using Power Contacts (see App Store), an update with a fix to the Evernote export has been posted as well.

CardScan and Web Sync Update

As you may know, ScanBiz Mobile Solutions and DYMO have partnered to provide CardScan users like you with a replacement for At Your Service, which was retired last year. As 2012 comes to a close in a few weeks, we wanted to connect with you and let you know about a few updates to the service and ask for your feedback. Included in this email:

  • Update about the features of the solution: Windows Sync Utility, Contacts Update Service, Map View
  • ScanBizCards HD for the iPad: for those of you with an iPad, do NOT extend your Web Sync subscription…get our new mobile app specifically designed for the iPad and get a free one-year Web Sync extension!

ScanBizCards Web Sync Update

Reminder

All details of the new ScanBizCards Web Sync solution to move your cards to the cloud can be found at www.scanbizcards.com/dymo. If you have any questions please email us atinfo@scanbizcards.com

Syncing CardScan Databases

When we first announced our support for CardScan in February, the only way to upload your CardScan database to our cloud was through a web browser. Since then, we’ve developed a new, more convenient way to keep your CardScan database in sync with your Web Sync account: the CardScanSync utility for Windows. DYMO announced this new program in May, and we’ve continued to update and improve the utility.

  • No more tediously uploading your CardScan database each time you scan in new cards, the utility automatically uploads all the CDB files on your computer (unless you choose to exclude some).
  • The utility will detect the presence of any new or updated cards in your CardScan database and upload the new/changed cards into your Web Sync account.
  • The utility works in both directions, meaning that any new/changed cards on the web will get download into your local CDB files. This gives you the flexibility to edit and create new contacts using the web interface and have them appear in your local CDB file. Better yet, if you use the ScanBizCards mobile app on your iOS, Android, Windows Phone or (soon) Blackberry device, you can easily add new cards by taking a photo and scanning it on your device.

More information on installing the sync utility here.
Important: the sync utility is only available for Windows computers. Unfortunately, Mac users still need to use the web-based upload. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Contacts Update Service

AYS had a feature with which all of your contacts would receive an email asking them to verify and update their own contact information. We added a similar feature a few months ago. To enable it, please click “Contact Updates (Beta)” in the Account tab of the Web Sync interface. Your contacts will receive a request once every 3 months.
Note: when your contacts update their own info, the updated information is not automatically applied to your database. It is placed into a queue for your review and approval. Look for these updates by clicking the same “Contact Updates (Beta)” button.

Map View

This is the Web Sync view through which you can look at your contacts on a map of the world (top left link on the web interface). This feature has been in beta for an extended period of time and we apologize for this. It has now been fixed for addresses in the United States. At the moment, there is a delay that may exceed 24-hours, but we expect the processing time to be reduced to a couple of hours by next week. We are working on a solution for non-US addresses and hope to have it working in the next few weeks.

ScanBizCards Mobile Apps

In case you weren’t aware, we have mobile apps available for your smartphone! ScanBizCards mobile apps let you carry all of your CardScan cards “on the go” – and much more such as adding new cards, connecting on LinkedIn, exporting to Salesforce or SugarCRM, etc.

OR just search in your device’s app store for “scanbizcards”. There are also Lite versions of the app available available for free.

After installing the app, sign in to your Web Sync account and watch as your cards are downloaded to your phone/tablet!

A little over a month ago Apple approved the very first version of ScanBizCards HD, a native iPad version of the app! We started working on this app not long after Apple released the iPad 3 and took us about 5 months to complete. I’ll be honest: I was totally amazed how much more content we are able to show when utilizing the full 9.7-inch screen. And that’s really the purpose of ScanBizCards HD – showing you everything that matters on the same screen.

It goes without saying that ScanBizCards HD has all the features of the iPhone version of ScanBizCards, it’s all about esthetics, usability and improved workflow … check the screenshots of the app on its App Store Page!

IMPORTANT: ScanBizCards HD is offered at an introductory price of $9.99 but is also comes with a gift worth $9.99 – one year of free Web Sync (or one additional year if you already have Web Sync)! So if you were planning to use Web Sync anyhow, think about the app as being FREE …
If you are running ScanBizCards on another iOS device, Android or Windows Phone Web Sync will also enable you to keep them all in sync with the same cards. This means you could use your iPhone to take photos of cards and scan them but then pick up the iPad to edit scan results and manage the cards.

For those of you who never tried the Web Sync service please check this demo Web Sync account.
Note: please remember to logout from this demo account otherwise you won’t be able to login to your own Web Sync account.

iPad 1 & iPad 2 Note: please remember that prior to the iPad 3 (“New iPad”) the iPad 1 & 2 models don’t have a camera good enough for scanning business card photos. If you have these older models please use your phone for taking photos – then by all means do all the rest on the iPad.

Release Notes for ScanBizCards HD version 1.00

Batch Export to Salesforce, SugarCRM and Jigsaw All these batch exports fail to dismiss the view showing the export results. To return to normalcy, please toggle the view to mosaic view and back to list view, using the button on the top / middle of the toolbar.

Editing Cards The keyboard sometimes hides the field you are trying to edit. Please scroll the view to expose the text field above the keyboard.

Other Issues Remember this is Version 1.0! Let us know ASAP of any issues at info@scanbizcards.com, we plan to update the app quickly to address them.

UPDATE:  Version 1.01 has been out for a couple of weeks since we originally wrote this, and version 1.02 was just sent to Apple for approval!

Regards,
Team ScanBizCards