Obama, the Quants, Big Data and You (and one Smart Irishman)

If the 2008 campaign was rigorous, the 2012 campaign was scientific. As one official told TIME magazine, the era of “guys sitting in a back room smoking cigars, saying ‘We always buy 60 Minutes’” is over.” As TIME summarized, “In politics, the era of big data has arrived.” If the worst way to try to win a political campaign is to have five smart people in a room smoking cigars and pontificating, then the worst way to manage an online presence if to have five smart people in a room drinking lattes and opinionating.

via How data analysis helped Obama win | Gerry McGovern.

If you’ve read this blog at all, you’ll know that I’m a rabid fan of Gerry McGovern, the Irish Web genius. He’s so bang-on in his thinking. If you don’t subscribe to his newsletter, New Thinking, you need to. (You can do it from the link above.)

Look, the Obama campaign of 2012 taught us a great many lessons — and as we parse the data, it’s going to teach us a lot more. The takeaway is this: big data is going to bite you in the ass if you’re not ready to listen to it. And change the way you’re doing business because of it.

It’s 2012. There’s no excuse for pretending that you can go along and promote your business, non-profit, educational institution, museum or carnival ride like you did in 1995. Or 1955.

If you do, there’s a word for that: malfeasance.

By the way, you should read McGovern’s great book on building the customer-centric web, The Stranger’s Long Neck. Here’s the link on Amazon.com.


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