Digital Transformation

How data analytics has forever changed political campaigns and elections

Bully Pulpit Interactive director Daniel Scarvalone explains how technology, particularly data analytics, has changed the business of politics and running a campaign.

Tech Republic's Dan Patterson sat down with Dan Scarvalone, director at Bully Pulpit Interactive on technology's effect on running a political campaign.

You can watch the video interview above or read the transcript below.

Dan Patterson: Let's talk digital transformation and its history. We can go back to the '80s and '90s and direct mail Karl Rove 's role in optimizing the direct mail operation. In 2008, there was much made about how Obama really took advantage of data and social media. In 2012, it was the same thing, more streamlined and efficient and in 2016, even bigger operations and more data. Can you help us understand the digital transformation of politics or of campaigning, not necessarily policy? And, are there lessons to be learned for business from the digital transformation of campaigning?

Dan Scarvalone: The biggest technological context is data's role in driving decision making. It's simply Moore's Law. It's the idea that it becomes easier and easier to store massive amounts of data without having to pay a lot of money. It's easier for campaigns to broaden the scope of decisions driven by data initially.

In the 2012 campaign, there was a lot of discussion about how to pay for our infrastructure, and how to validate if we were talking to the right people. In 2018, and as we think about the future of data in politics, the conversation is no longer about how we store data, it's about how we move it around the Cloud most effectively. The cost of spitting up a database or storing massive amounts of data on voters has been driven drastically down by the adventive of AWS, by Azure, by Cloud computing systems.

SEE: Infographic: Most companies are collecting data, but aren't using big data solutions (Tech Pro Research)

The decision in politics is no longer, "Do I use data to figure out who I speak to?" That decision's been won, it's been arbitrary, it's been over. The question is, "What's the best tactics that I can use, of all the different ways to spend a candidates' time, of all the different ways to reach people through free means?" Whether by using a candidate's time or volunteer time or organic social media, or whatever digital metrics you have. "What are the ways I can put my message in front of people?"

That's where you're going to see the most innovation in the future, and on the business side as well. It's no longer about, "How do we put our message out passively, and who do we speak to?" but, "How do we balance our active marketing budgets across all the different ways we have to find the exact people that we care about, and reach them where they're most likely to engage with our content and most likely to be persuaded by it?"

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About Dan Patterson

Dan is a Senior Writer for TechRepublic. He covers cybersecurity and the intersection of technology, politics and government.

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