Presidential campaigns and startups have a lot in common, said Zac Moffatt, TargetedVictory co-founder and former Romney campaign Digital Director. While startups and campaigns don't face identical problems, Moffat said, "the best campaigns have the discipline to identify [problems] that are fundamental to success and then relentlessly address those while not getting lost in the chaos surrounding them."
READ: Big decisions with big data (Tech Pro Research article)
Through the 2016 presidential campaign TechRepublic is exploring the innovations shared by campaigns and startups. Senior Writer Dan Patterson appeared recently on NBC News to discuss election tech trends, cybersecurity, and what business can learn from watching how campaigns use big data and social media.
Here are the three big tech themes of the 2016 campaign.
Big data wins campaigns.
Winning campaigns use social media and big data platforms like L2 Political and NationBuilder to target voters online and in person, at home, and on the phone. For example, Ted Cruz won in Iowa in part because his campaign outspent Trump on voter and social media data. Voter details and social media data help campaigns target and activate voters. After Iowa, when Trump realized the importance of big data, he bought more data and started winning again.
All campaigns are engaged in a digital arms race to build the best databases of voter information. Using demographic and social media data, campaigns run election simulations and adjust their tactics based on the results. From mailing address lists to Twitter account details, platforms like NationBuilder have become indispensable for merging and managing disparate data sets.
Social media has changed the conversation.
Social platforms and mobile phones have become essential recruiting tools for campaigns. Modern campaigns have built apps that gamify voter involvement by providing incentives for engaged users to participate in campaign events, find polling places, and recruit friends directly from the device.
Twitter allows campaigns to read and interpret the issues voters care about. For the Clinton campaign, follower sentiment translates into vertical social media content for specific networks like Snapchat and Instagram. Trump's use of Twitter to distribute and amplify messaging that resonates with his base is unprecedented by a presidential candidate..
Every campaign is concerned about cybersecurity.
The Clinton and Cruz campaigns in particular have teams developing cybersecurity policy. In the General Election expect discussion about Clinton's email security to serve as a springboard for a larger debate about offensive and defensive security policy. All campaigns are working on ways to determine how to balance public and the private sector security needs.
At the GOP debate prior to the New Hampshire primary Ben Carson discussed cyber defense policy with TechRepublic. "We have excellent offensive cyber capabilities. Our defense needs a little shoring up... If anybody attacks us, we should hit them so hard they'll never think about it again." And although Carson has dropped out of the race, his view is widely shared amongst most GOP contenders.
Read more TechRepublic Election Tech stories
- How social media and big data changed everything, a Q&A with Joe Trippi
- Three big technologies shaping the New Hampshire Primary
- 3 Super Tuesday Twitter data trends, and one big question
- The issues that matter to the candidates, based on social data analysis
- How to make yourself a data scientist
Note: TechRepublic is owned by CBS Interactive.
Dan Patterson has nothing to disclose. He does not hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Dan is a Senior Writer for TechRepublic. He covers cybersecurity and the intersection of technology, politics and government.