Mobile Scanning for Fun and Profit

You know those piles of business cards you acquire at every conference and trade show? Typing those contacts into a database is tedious work that takes hours. The same appplies to receipts, and making sure they are entered into the appropriate ledger. If left undone, these tasks will cost you money. Here’s how mobile scanning saves the day…

How Do I Scan Thee?

Document scanning offers a lot more options than ever before. A scanner is no longer a bulky deskbound machine, or even a cumbersome “portable” stick the size of an aquarium light fixture. Scanners are not limited to taking pictures of documents anymore; they can convert images to editable text and even format it for spreadsheets and databases automatically. You don’t even need a dedicated scanner anymore, just your trusty smartphone and yet another free app.
Business cards that you collect represent leads for future sales. If they aren’t entered into a contact mangement system, you’re leaving valuable contacts to wither and die. The sooner you get those contacts into an address book or a database, the sooner they start making you money. Modern scanning tech enables productivity that was impossible a few years ago.
Mobile Scanners
So scan a business card the minute you receive it, and add its contact info to your phone’s contact list that can be imported into your master database back home. Here are several ways to do it:
Android phones don’t have OCR (Optical Character Recognition) built in, but Google Drive sure does. You can snap a photo of any document with an Android phone, use the free Google Drive app to save it as a PDF file, and upload it to your Google Drive. There, Google makes every word and phrase in the PDF searchable, editable and copy-paste-able. But the data isn’t formatted for mailing lists and such; “name” and “street address” and other fields don’t exist. There are other cloud-based apps for that.
CamCard gets some of the best reviews in the business card scanning space. Its OCR is flexible and accurate, able to read and convert to ASCII text even the bizarre fonts on busy background graphics that game developers and artists prefer. While no OCR app is perfect at formatting data into database fields, CamCard output requires less editing than most. Contacts are saved to your phone and, in the premium version, to CamCard’s cloud-based enterprise-wide CRM (Customer Relations Management) system.
NeatVerify is what you need if you want someone else to double-check the accuracy of OCR-scanned data. Neat makes a portable scanner that can send output just about anywhere: a disc or USB stick, your network, Dropbox, etc. NeatVerify is an optional service in which actual humans review and correct mistakes before they enter your databases. It’s neat but not cheap; you need a Neat Cloud Service subscription ($6 to $25/month) just for openers; then NeatVerify ranges from free for up to 30 verifications/month to $9 for up to 120.
Receipts for meals, cab rides, and other expenses are another mobile scanning application. Receipts By Wave is a free app for iOS and Android that scans paper or emailed receipts, formats data, and sends it to the cloud-based Accounting By Wave service. Receipt images can also be submitted from Dropbox, Google Drive, and other cloud storage services to be OCR-scanned and added to the accounting system.
For unformatted text such as excerpts from books, contracts, etc., we still have those foot-long “aquarium lamp” scanners. The ones with document-feeding rollers are generally easier to use and more accurate than the handheld kind that you move down a page like a lint roller. Those pen-sized USB gizmos that scan one line at a time, if you trace a line perfectly straight at just the right pace, are a waste in my opinion. Full-page portable scanners are definitely a tradeoff between bulk and performance.
The VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand portable scanner is a hand-operated scanner that gets 5 stars from Amazon buyers; currently, it’s only about $45. The $100 Epson Workforce DS-30 portable scanner includes a sheet-feeder and gets 4 stars.
Mobile scanners are for capturing data before it’s thrown away or lost, and for putting it to work making revenue or saving tax dollars as soon as possible. They can save you hours of time every month, as well.
Do you use a portable scanner, or a desktop scanner? Tell me what you use, and why you like it. Post your comment or question below…

More Posts about Productivity:

  • 400 Free Tools For Business Building

  • Mobile Scanning for Fun and Profit

  • 7 Tools To Build Your Virtual Office

  • Google Drive for Work vs MS OneDrive for Business

  • Tame Your Paperwork With a Scanner


  1. Dayna DeLa Vergne says

    Android natively scans business cards as contacts and parses the data into the various contact fields. Once you get it all edited, it also saves the image of the card with the contact.
    EDITOR’S NOTE: Natively, as in “part of the operating system, no app needed?” I can take a picture of a business card on my Samsuing Galaxy, and nothing special happens — it’s just a photo.

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