As the battleground states results started to trickle in on Election Day, I went to nytimes.com and study the county maps and try to determine where the state would fall. Call me a geek; it was fun. But I wanted to know more. In my reading this weekend, I caught up with two great articles about the election. These tales are familiar and worth reading for those of us who live at the corner of technology and marketing:
First is a story from Time Magazine with a deep look into President Obama’s data crunching operation: Inside the Secret World of the Data Crunchers Who Helped Obama Win. Break apart the major successes of the operation and you will see the modern best practices at play: (1) data optimizes effort; (2) the work to aggregate and clean was massive and necessary; (3) testing was a crucial component, and (4) social media works. But to see it all work at such a massive scale is something to behold.
The [data] didn’t just tell the campaign how to find voters and get their attention; it also allowed the number crunchers to run tests predicting which types of people would be persuaded by certain kinds of appeals. Call lists in field offices, for instance, didn’t just list names and numbers; they also ranked names in order of their persuadability, with the campaign’s most important priorities first.
The flipside was another familiar story: Inside Team Romney’s whale of an IT meltdown. This one was a story that software veterans have all seen, specifically rushing software development without proper planning, testing and training. This one was a sad story as it was software that designed to be useful for just one day every four years. And it failed that one day because of poor execution.
…Volunteers couldn’t get the system to work from the field in many states—in some cases because they had been given the wrong login information. The system crashed repeatedly. At one point, the network connection to the Romney campaign’s headquarters went down because Internet provider Comcast reportedly thought the traffic was caused by a denial of service attack.
I will continue to study and unravel the techniques and technology behind the campaigns’ success and failures. After all, there will be some learnings that I can bake into the software and bring these leading edge best practices to customers.
In the meantime, I think you would enjoy these reads.