Barack Obama just might be the first ‘Information Age’ President of the US.
The Houdini Project that his team ran has highlighted the value of information, and especially good quality and timely information, when making decisions or trying to gain a competitive advantage. From the details that have leaked out (and while Newsweek get the credit for breaking the story, I found it discussed here a few days ago) it is clear that from the top down there was an understanding of the value of timely and accurate data with additional ‘richness’ of information to help focus resources (ie not calling people who’d already voted or who weren’t going to vote Obama), prioritise effort (ie putting the priority on calling in areas where voter turn out was lower than expected), and generally just getting the edge on the opposition.
On the DailyKos, UMassLefty wrote:
We were plugged in to the GOTV operation throughout the day, and we knew that it was working, that what we were doing mattered.
Ironically, only yesterday I was delivering a presentation on how information quality professionals needed to work with their customers (stakeholders) to make that link between the goals and priorities of the Executive Committee and the actions, deeds and drivers of the people in the front line to give a clear and coherent alignment of information quality to strategy (and vice versa).
The IAIDQ has issued a press release commenting on the value of the information to the success of Obama’s campaign.
As more information emerges about how the Houdini project worked, I’m sure either the IAIDQ or I will be writing more about it.
4 thoughts on “Obama’s win… a win for information quality”
Mr. Obama has proved he is a charismatic individual with obvious qualities that could make him one of the greatest presidents in US history. Very often, people compare Mr. Obama to JFK or M.L.King and maybe rightly so as his RHETORIC touches unusual mix and array of ethnicities, social groups, minorities. I emphasised rhetoric, as we’re yet to see how will those words materialise.
A lot will of course depend on his advisors as well as his endurance against various lobbysts and groups, but that’s not the point I wanted to make here. The man has made his name by adopting highly systematic approach in his campaign. Certainly, his tenacity, and especially his strong sense for ethics made quite a difference for many people, especially when compared to a bulldog-like attitude of Hillary camp. But what really worked was an adoption of rigorous viral marketing, nearly matching efficiency of Herbalife salesmen. You can see patterns of data quality management in this very clearly but I’m sure it all started down at a process level.
Here’s how I picture it. On a rainy November night two years ago somewhere in a Chicago, Obama and his ex mates from Harvard Law School have come up with an idea of viral campaigning and started scratching their heads around how’s it’s going to work. Fortunately for Mr. Obama, the brains went beyond giving flashy Obama badges and fliers to unemployed and students to collect the competitive data. No, I’m sure the guys in the room started with sticky notes and whiteboard to design the process of how the data collection and evaluation is going to work. So I guess my point here is – data and especially quality data considerably fueled Obama success but without a solid process running in a background, the whole viral marketing mechanism could have misfired in Mr. Obama’s face.
Indeed you are correct. Quality process begets quality information which in turn enables quality process operation. the word from the ground is that things weren’t perfect from a data quality point of view in the ‘master data’, but the quality of what was coming back from the polling centres was quite high (and timely).
by tying good quality information to good quality processes, and by designing good quality processes to capture good quality data (and also having ‘objective focussed’ work arounds that delivered the information by back-up processes such as people on bikes) Obama’s team managed to get a significant edge.
And you are right… if the processes weren’t there to use the data and if the data weren’t right for the process then the whole thing could have backfired.
But they were and it didn’t.
Another example of Obama’s forward looking approach – appointment of Chief Performance Officer. See danbahula.net for more.
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