Very recently, I read an interesting article on the LA Times about the demise of business cards. However, the views expressed in the article were very tech-savvy centric and the entire world is not going tech savvy anytime soon.
Business cards have served as an important contact artifact for decades. The exchange of a business card establishes a contact beyond momentary business. Back in the days, business cards were extremely popular and important. There was a whole industry based on the printing of business cards. Even today, companies like Google and Facebook bring out offers to create vanity cards from a Google search of your name and from your Facebook profile respectively. The leading companies in the Internet space would definitely not do something that is out of line with the current times.
The exchange or utility of business cards needs to be examined from a different perspective. In my opinion, the utility of a business card totally depends on the kind of work you do. Not everything happens online (I wish that the world was that way!), and most of the things that do not happen online have legacy systems. These legacy systems are deep rooted into the society and require face-to-face conversation. Take for instance the law business or the agent driven model for insurance. Yes, lawyers and agents do have websites. However, businesses like these are based on trust building and human contact. For legacy businesses like these, the exchange of a business card serves as a touch-point for creating a contact.
However, we cannot overlook the ground realty. Business cards are exchanged in abundance, all right. However, they really do end up, as said by Matt Stevens from the LA Times, “in a shoe box”. I have a number of business cards from various people and businesses, but whenever it comes to getting back in touch with them, I always go and do a quick search online. Maybe I do not deal enough with legacy businesses. It really seems that business cards are facing a slow and tragic death and better availability of information online is responsible for it. Someday, the glorious days of business cards will be over, and we will only see them in movies, as commodities of philosophical ridicule like in American Psycho. However, that day is not close. Not yet.