Think you are making free choice in the US 2016 election ? Think again

In 2006 New York times ran a headline “The YouTube Election”. It was an article about how Senator Allen was caught on tape referring to a college with a racial slur. The recording made its way to YouTube which in turn made it to the front page of the Washing Post and then TV. This resulted in the downgrade of the Senator as a leading contender for the 2008 Republication presidential nomination.

In 2014 it was the “Facebook election”, 2015 it was the “Live Stream” election so it seems like the run to every election is based on some technology platform. As America is heading to the voting booth, what are the technology platforms that shaped the way Americans will vote?

All of them.

And the reason is a term that that technologists have been waving around for several years – BIG DATA. As the world is becoming much more reliant on information every action that is taken online, every click, every item searched for and every product purchased is being recorded and logged and this data is used to build a digital profile on each person.

In the science-fiction movie “Minority Report”, psychic-technology was used to arrest criminals before they committed the crime.  In 2016, in the real-world, access to big data has allowed political parties to analyze and predict how groups of people are most likely to behave and therefore influence their action by seeding their social media feeds, emails, and phones with information to either change that action or reinforce that action.

What we do on our social media is simply reaffirm what we want to happen. If we click on many SNL clips or Trevor Noah clips then we will see more “news” from Hillary Clinton as we have given the signal that we are in Hillery’s favor. If we click on stories showing how corrupt Hillary is then we will get more sponsored post from Donald Trump. The more we click, read and share the more info we are given by that party, the more our Facebook friends will send us more clips and news and all this just reaffirms our political thinking mindset.

Politically speaking, this is not new. In the last elections, the Barack Obama’s election team was using these techniques effectively to win votes.  TargetSmart’s CEO, Tom Bonier, which is a company that provides that big data analytics to the national and state Democratic parties, is quoted as saying that “The playing field is a lot more level now than it was then…In 2008, the narrative was that Democrats were so much smarter and so much farther ahead than Republicans in this area, and that’s just not the case at all at this point. It’s a very level playing field in terms of the innovation that’s going on, on both sides of the aisle.”

Deep Root is the company that the Republican party contracts to analyze the big data. David Seawright, director of analytics and product innovation at Deep Root refers to the data as “weaponized” or “actionize” as it can arm the GOP with the right information at the right time so that the right message or action can be taken and shown to the right person.

This is what the election is boiling down to – One on One targeting.

Political Action Committees are no longer restricted by how much money they can spend to market themselves. Therefore, with the aid of the big data analytical tools the Parties are able to spend large sums of money but spent it with pin-point accuracy. Now it’s up to the marketing and messaging specialist to get the right message across.

Politics catching up to Enterprise.

The one arena where Big Data Analysis is not new is in the Enterprise arena which has been recording and analyzing customer data since the inception of commerce. Technologies such as Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) Integrated Infrastructure for Big Data provides businesses with the power to go beyond just storage of large data but to extract deep insights from the data.

“Historically, Enterprises have been collecting vast amounts of data that required loads of powerful hardware to interrogate that data“ says Allen Sulgrove, Director of the Digital Business Unit at GDT “ With systems such as SAP Hana, the hardware requirement is now significantly less and so more companies are able to extract valuable insights from the data.”

Mr. Sulgrove explains that businesses are now collecting and analyzing sentiment data which is unstructured data from systems such as social media, keywords searches and from Amazon reviews. This data is used to better tailor the business offering.

The analysis of information enables faster reactions, smarter decisions. Analytics provides insights into patterns that improve management and operational control while boosting productivity and driving better business outcomes toward improvements in a businesses’ bottom line.

And perhaps even win an election too.

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