Political parties pulled out all the stops to get your vote on May 7th. Behind the scenes, there was a media frenzy, with newspapers, TV outlets and polling companies all trying to get to grips with the mood of the nation.
When Barack Obama ran for his first US Presidential term, his use of social media and cloud was notable. His was a very modern campaign, with copious use of Twitter and YouTube to get the message across (alongside lengthy TV ads, naturally). His campaign won two awards at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Awards, with unanimous support from the judges.
Politics these days is a two-way street, and election campaigns are turning into conversations between the electorate and the parties. User involvement still requires people to stick flags in their garden, and posters in their window. But there’s more data, and a quicker turnaround, mostly thanks to increasing reliance on IT.
Behind all of this activity is a reliance on cloud computing. The Obama campaign could not have succeeded without the use of cloud-based storage powering sites like Instagram and MySpace (which was still a powerful tool at that time). Marketers are harvesting Big Data and using it to measure the mood of the people. Along with that goes a need to store, select, cleanse and control the data that marketers can use, so it meets compliance requirements.
Elections also inevitably attract funding and donations, and these donations are increasingly given online. For the first, award-winning Obama campaign, officials took more than 4 million online donations.
In terms of the future, no main party has explicitly mentioned the cloud, but its influence lurks under the surface. Many small businesses have fully bought in to the efficiency gains and cost savings that cloud computing presents. For a government, this is potentially gold dust.
We’ve seen hints at this shift during the current coalition government’s term in office, when Open Data standards have been part of policy, and the Gov.UK website has received an award-winning, responsive and accessible makeover. Government Digital Services are already making UK public services more efficient, and there is potential to roll this out at at a local level.
Anyone currently using the cloud knows that security and privacy are key concerns in business. For many, it’s important that data does not cross geographical boundaries and exit the EU, where different data laws exist. Political parties are keen to ensure that UK businesses can share data within Europe, and that means treading carefully around a potential EU exit. While cloud computing is rarely mentioned, the implications could be considerable if a referendum led to the UK going it alone.
IT and business professionals will be interested in both facets of the election. They’ll note the way new technology is used in this gigantic marketing drive. And they’ll note the way policies will change the way we use technologies like cloud to drive identity management, data collection and quality service provision.