Chris Kranky

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A new business card?

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

Ntag Coming back from a conference where the hosting firm elected to use a new electronic badge from nTAG Interactive. This electronic badge had a couple of purposes but the biggest is to enable the easy exchange of an electronic business card with the other participants of the conference.

The nTAG is basically a rectangle (3" x 6") box that resembles a TV remote control. You hang it around your neck and it has your name, title, company name printed on it. The "box", if you will, also has a small LCD display and a handful of buttons to interact with the display. If you want to exchange your electronic business card with someone else, you depress a button and point it at the other person. Using infrared technology, the nTAGs communicate with each other and transmit the information. At the end of the conference, you turn the nTAG back in and you quickly get an email allowing your to download in various formats the business cards of everyone you met at the conference.

In addition, the nTAG contains the Agenda of the conference and you can pull it up on the LCD display so you know what’s going on when & where. Finally, nTAG supports "live voting", so in a session, the speaker can poll the audience and you vote on your nTAG and the results can be displayed real time. I consider all of this novel at best.

I’ll admit I was skeptical, looked a bit too much like a gimick to me. The nTAG badge was kinda of bulky and was heavy, but I’ll give it a 1st generation "will get better" opinion. Since none of the conference attendees had seen anything like this before, we were all playing around with it. After 3 days, I’d accumulated about 50 e-business cards and found it easy to use and actually helpful. On the downsize, I often use the reverse side of someone’s business card to jot down notes on why we talked and what action I need to take. I think you could do this with the nTAG, but I never figured it out.

Now if nTAG is free, well, it’s a great idea, but they’re obviously trying to make a business from this. So who’s going to pay for it? In my case, the conference provider simply handed them out, so I didn’t need to make a value judgement. But would I opt for this versus just handing out my biz card if I had to pay? Not so sure. Is a conference provider going to incur some cost for this versus spending the money elsewhere? Not so sure again.

So nTAG has the classic dilemma of a neat idea, but a somewhat fuzzy view on how the business economics work. Their website touts all kinds of ROI’s and business cases, but as Kranky says, if you have to have a business case to make your case, you don’t have a case. Most of us make eyeball economic decisions. Still I like the concept and look to see how this evolves.