Five Innovative Social, Mobile, Cloud, and Big Data Apps From the US 2012 Election Campaigns

Greg Chase

With the US 2012 election campaign finally, thankfully, winding down, I wanted to share some interesting stories about the technology being used by the campaigns and super PACs to more effectively direct their field staff and target voters.  From the various news stories I’ve heard over the past few weeks on NPR, and read in articles, it seems that both the presidential campaigns and the big budget super PACs have been making heavy use of social media, mobile device applications, cloud platforms, and big data.

This blog isn’t meant to take a position in the campaign. I can’t even argue that one campaign has made more effective use of new technology than another. Whereas in 2008, the Obama campaign clearly made more effective use of social media than his opponent, it seems that both campaigns in 2012 have aggressively embraced emerging technologies.

Here are five descriptions of applications that I was able to find. I will add to this list as I run across more.  Please feel free to add any links to interesting stories that you know about as well in the comments. Also, the application of this technology is strictly an American perspective. I suspect many of my European colleagues will have an entirely different view of the acceptability, and even legality, of some of these applications. Please share your perspectives on this issue as well.

Use of cloud computing to link sprawling, temporary field offices with a single system.

This article points out that both campaigns are making use of cloud computing to link together their many field offices to state and national offices. Another excellent point is that the campaigns are temporary, so purchasing extensive IT infrastructure makes no sense when these campaigns can just rent system capacity as needed.

Finally, one point I didn’t see in the article is that in the case of Romney, he had only a matter of weeks to set up field offices after wrapping up the Republican nomination whereas the Obama campaign had the luxury of planning his next election over four years. There is no way that Romney could roll out an effective organization without making liberal use of cloud computing to speed up the process.

The article specifically points out an application called Campaign Cloud by electionmall in association with Microsoft. In this application, campaigns can manage their staffs and fundraising activities.


Features of the Campaign Cloud by electionmall [SOURCE]

Cloud storage for campaign intelligence tracking

This article by Kai Ryssdal from NPR’s Marketplace describes the job of a campaign tracker – people working for super PACs and opponents’ campaigns that follow a candidate to every event, document everything a candidate says, and try to capture video and audio of inconsistencies and gaffes. This information is then uploaded into a searchable database in the cloud along with a whole ton of other public information.  Back at the Super PAC, the staff spend hundreds of hours searching facts and video putting together a political history, trying to find contradictions or other bits that eventually end up in political advertising.

Big data profiles of voters for better targeting and motivation

Then there is this article that describes how there are at least seven companies that are combining multiple public and private data sources to create voter profiles including age, gender, voter registration, how often you actually voted, and your political donation history. This information currently profiles 180 million voters in the United States – 80% of registered voters. The key is applying the right psychological and social behavioral science criteria to this data. This article from The Slate, heavily slanted towards Obama, describes the difference between merely constructing a model of how you think voters look like, as opposed to considering actual behaviors.

Some of this information comes from search engines. Google apparently does not share political beliefs as it considers this to be sensitive personal information. However, this article does claim that Yahoo and Microsoft sell access to registration information for political targeting.

This data isn’t just for targeting ads. This transcript from an NPR  news article describes how this data is allowing campaign workers to target individual voters instead of merely grossly targeting precincts.  What’s even more interesting is how they’re motivating people to go vote. They send out postcards showing your previous voting history and those of your neighbors. No, this isn’t how you voted, just whether you actually cast a ballot or not. This results in a sort of self-inflicted peer pressure. Many people don’t want their neighbors to see that they are disaffected and not taking part in their patriotic duty to vote. If this seems invasive, records of who voted in an election have been displayed for years, and it was common practice for precinct watchers to pay attention as to whether their party members had come out to cast their ballot.


A slide taken from an online slideshow by a political targeting firm. [SOURCE]

Social media to influence voting

Certainly both campaigns and super PACs are making massive use of social media to get their message out, and to solicit donations. But what about using social media to both motivate people to actually cast their vote, and maybe even to influence how they vote. This article describes a research study that shows exactly how a social media site like Facebook can be used exactly to that effect. I don’t know whether this was actually deployed by any campaign, but don’t be surprised to see it in the next election cycle.

Startup company Votizen has taken these concepts to create as service that matches online social media profiles with registered voters.  You can sign in with your Twitter or Facebook account and see your friends party registration, where they are registered to vote, and how often they actually cast their ballot. You can then enter your favorite candidate, whether for President of the  United States, or the local school board, and find out which of your friends you need to motivate to vote for your candidate and cast their ballot.


View candidate profile and friends you can influence to vote for a candidate through social media in Votizen. [SOURCE]

Based on the information they’ve gleaned from social media networks and registered voter lists, Votizen is able to project a real time voter sentiment page of tweets.


Tweets and real time statistics of registered voters sentiment in the US by Votizen. [SOURCE]

Mobile devices tied to real time big data and cloud applications for canvasser efficiency and voter data collection

Lastly, this article and broadcast from Aarti Shahani from NPR’s All Things Considered describes the most impressive application I’ve heard about in this election cycle – The Door Knocking App, Electioneer from startup company Organizer. This application provides real time status updates to campaign coordinators of the voters being targeted by canvassers.  You can see the progress of their canvassers and also get real time information of the voter’s sentiment.

Coordinators view of canvassing status. Check marks are targeted voters that were visited. [SOURCE]

There’s a corresponding mobile device application that canvassers use to know which voters they are assigned to talk with, and to be able to update sentiment in real time via a multiple choice poll.


View of poll input screen for individual voters in canvassing mobile application.  [SOURCE]

One quote from the NPR article suggests that this kind of real time sentiment gathering could even replace traditional polling since you’ll have actual data about how each voter is feeling rather than having to make statistical guesses.

I was able to find this demo of the application on YouTube from the Disrupt conference:

Video demonstration of Electioneer cloud application and mobile device from Disrupt Conference. [SOURCE]

Innovating ideas for your company

None of the applications described above are for sale from SAP. If, however, one of these stories sparks a creative idea in your head, I encourage you to check out the SAP NetWeaver Cloud Developer Center. Here you can get a free developer license, and see what combining cloud computing with social, mobile, and big data functionality can do to create a competitive advantage for your company.

What are your thoughts?

This post originally appeared on the SAP Community Network.

The implications of collaboration in the networked economy will continue to shape every aspect of the world we live in today and the changing world we will live in tomorrow. Get involved in the conversations on The Future of Business and read, watch and learn about the networked economy.


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13 Scary Statistics On Employee Engagement [INFOGRAPHIC]

Jacob Shriar

There is a serious problem with the way we work.

Most employees are disengaged and not passionate about the work they do. This is costing companies a ton of money in lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. It’s also harmful to employees, because they’re more stressed out than ever.

The thing that bothers me the most about it, is that it’s all so easy to fix. I can’t figure out why managers aren’t more proactive about this. Besides the human element of caring for our employees, it’s costing them money, so they should care more about fixing it. Something as simple as saying thank you to your employees can have a huge effect on their engagement, not to mention it’s good for your level of happiness.

The infographic that we put together has some pretty shocking statistics in it, but there are a few common themes. Employees feel overworked, overwhelmed, and they don’t like what they do. Companies are noticing it, with 75% of them saying they can’t attract the right talent, and 83% of them feeling that their employer brand isn’t compelling. Companies that want to fix this need to be smart, and patient. This doesn’t happen overnight, but like I mentioned, it’s easy to do. Being patient might be the hardest thing for companies, and I understand how frustrating it can be not to see results right away, but it’s important that you invest in this, because the ROI of employee engagement is huge.

Here are 4 simple (and free) things you can do to get that passion back into employees. These are all based on research from Deloitte.

1.  Encourage side projects

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload. Let them explore their own passions and interests, and work on side projects. Ideally, they wouldn’t have to be related to the company, but if you’re worried about them wasting time, you can set that boundary that it has to be related to the company. What this does, is give them autonomy, and let them improve on their skills (mastery), two of the biggest motivators for work.

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload.

2.  Encourage workers to engage with customers

At Wistia, a video hosting company, they make everyone in the company do customer support during their onboarding, and they often rotate people into customer support. When I asked Chris, their CEO, why they do this, he mentioned to me that it’s so every single person in the company understands how their customers are using their product. What pains they’re having, what they like about it, it gets everyone on the same page. It keeps all employees in the loop, and can really motivate you to work when you’re talking directly with customers.

3.  Encourage workers to work cross-functionally

Both Apple and Google have created common areas in their offices, specifically and strategically located, so that different workers that don’t normally interact with each other can have a chance to chat.

This isn’t a coincidence. It’s meant for that collaborative learning, and building those relationships with your colleagues.

4.  Encourage networking in their industry

This is similar to number 2 on the list, but it’s important for employees to grow and learn more about what they do. It helps them build that passion for their industry. It’s important to go to networking events, and encourage your employees to participate in these things. Websites like Eventbrite or Meetup have lots of great resources, and most of the events on there are free.

13 Disturbing Facts About Employee Engagement [Infographic]

What do you do to increase employee engagement? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up here and receive The Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!

This infographic was crafted with love by Officevibe, the employee survey tool that helps companies improve their corporate wellness, and have a better organizational culture.


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Supply Chain Fraud: The Threat from Within

Lindsey LaManna

Supply chain fraud – whether perpetrated by suppliers, subcontractors, employees, or some combination of those – can take many forms. Among the most common are:

  • Falsified labor
  • Inflated bills or expense accounts
  • Bribery and corruption
  • Phantom vendor accounts or invoices
  • Bid rigging
  • Grey markets (counterfeit or knockoff products)
  • Failure to meet specifications (resulting in substandard or dangerous goods)
  • Unauthorized disbursements

LSAP_Smart Supply Chains_graphics_briefook inside

Perhaps the most damaging sources of supply chain fraud are internal, especially collusion between an employee and a supplier. Such partnerships help fraudsters evade independent checks and other controls, enabling them to steal larger amounts. The median loss from fraud committed
by a single thief was US$80,000, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).

Costs increase along with the number of perpetrators involved. Fraud involving two thieves had a median loss of US$200,000; fraud involving three people had a median loss of US$355,000; and fraud with four or more had a median loss of more than US$500,000, according to ACFE.

Build a culture to fight fraud

The most effective method to fight internal supply chain theft is to create a culture dedicated to fighting it. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Make sure the board and C-level executives understand the critical nature of the supply chain and the risk of fraud throughout the procurement lifecycle.
  • Market the organization’s supply chain policies internally and among contractors.
  • Institute policies that prohibit conflicts of interest, and cross-check employee and supplier data to uncover potential conflicts.
  • Define the rules for accepting gifts from suppliers and insist that all gifts be documented.
  • Require two employees to sign off on any proposed changes to suppliers.
  • Watch for staff defections to suppliers, and pay close attention to any supplier that has recently poached an employee.

About Lindsey LaManna

Lindsey LaManna is Social and Reporting Manager for the Digitalist Magazine by SAP Global Marketing. Follow @LindseyLaManna on Twitter, on LinkedIn or Google+.


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Innovation Without Boundaries: Why The Cloud Matters

Michael Haws

Is it possible to innovate without boundaries?

Of course – if you are using the cloud. An actual cloud doesn’t have any boundaries. It’s fluid. But more important, it can provide the much-needed precipitation that brings nature to life. So it is with cloud technology – but it’s your ideas that can grow and transform your business.USA --- Clouds, Heaven --- Image by © Ocean/Corbis

Running your business in the cloud is no longer just a consideration during a typical use-case exercise. Business executives are now faced with making decisions on solutions that go beyond previous limitations with cloud computing. Selecting the latest tools to address a business process gap is now less about features and more about functionality.

It doesn’t matter whether your organization is experienced with cloud solutions or new to the concept. Cloud technology is quickly becoming a core part of addressing the needs of a growing business.

5 considerations when planning your journey to the cloud

How can your organization define its successful path to the cloud? Here are five things you should consider when investigating whether a move to the cloud is right for you.

1. Understanding the cloud is great, but putting it into action is another thing.

For most CIOs, putting a cloud strategy on paper is new territory. Cloud computing is taking on new realms: Pure managed services to software-as-a-service (SaaS). Just as legacy computing had different flavors, so does cloud technology.

2. There is more than one way to innovate in the cloud.

Alignment with an open cloud reference architecture can help your CIO deliver on the promises of the cloud while using a stair-step approach to cloud adoption – from on-premise to hybrid to full cloud computing. Some companies find their own path by constantly reevaluating their needs and shifting their focus when necessary – making the move from running a data center to delivering real value to stakeholders, for example.

3. The cloud can help accelerate processes and lower cost.

By recognizing unprecedented growth, your organization can embark on a path to significant transformation that powers greater agility and competitiveness. Choose a solution set that best meets your needs, and implement and support it moving forward. By leveraging the cloud to support the chosen solution, ongoing maintenance, training, and system issues becomes the cloud provider’s responsibility. And for you, this offers the freedom to focus on the core business.

4. You can lock down your infrastructure and ensure more efficient processes.

Do you use a traditional reporting engine against a large relational database to generate a sequential batched report to close your books at quarter’s end? If so, you’re not alone. Sure, a new solution with new technology may be an obvious improvement. But how valuable to your board will you become when you reduce the financial closing process by 1–3 days? That’s the beauty of the cloud: You can accelerate the deployment of your chosen solution and realize ROI quickly – even before the next full reporting period.

5. The cloud opens the door to new opportunity in a secure environment.

For many companies, moving to the cloud may seem impossible due to the time and effort needed to train workers and hire resources with the right skill sets. Plus, if you are a startup in a rural location, it may not be as easy to attract the right talent as it is for your Silicon Valley counterparts. The cloud allows your business to secure your infrastructure as well as recruit and onboard those hard-to-find resources by applying a managed services contract to run your cloud model

The cloud means many things to different people. What’s your path?

With SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud service, you can navigate the best path to building, running, and operating your own cloud when running critical business processes. Find out how SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud can deliver the speed and resources necessary to quickly validate and realize solid ROI.

Check out the video below or visit us at

Connect with us on Twitter: @SAPServices



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Is Digital Business the Answer to the Climate Crisis?

Kai Goerlich

By Kai Goerlich, Michael Goldberg, Will Ritzrau

Among the studies of climate change that indict human inventions and activities for the ecological damage done to the earth, there is a hopeful glimmer that digital business can bend the curve to reduce carbon emissions. According to #SMARTer2030, a study by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) and Accenture Strategy, it is possible, during the next 15 years, to hold worldwide carbon emissions to 2015 levels by digitizing business processes and applying data to decisions about resource use. That would represent a valuable contribution, according to the research, in decoupling economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions, thus helping to solve the tradeoff between the two.

SAP looked at a subset of companies in six major industries that are currently using business software such as enterprise resource planning, data analytics, supply chain, logistics, production planning, resource optimization, and remote access. Then SAP did their own analysis to estimate how applying these technologies to emerging digital business models in these industries globally would contribute to reducing carbon emissions.

The “Business as Usual” Scenario

The heat is on. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world body established in 1988 to assess the impact of humans on the climate, notes in its most recent report that “business as usual” practices would lead to temperature increases between 2.6°C and 4.8°C by the end of the century—beyond our expected ability to reverse the damage.

More IT = Less CO2

By rolling out information and communications technologies (ICT) across the global economy, total emissions of carbon dioxide equivalent could be cut 12.1 gigatons by 2030 and help forestall temperature increases, GeSI research has concluded. GeSI is an ICT industry association working with, among others, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to improve its members’ sustainability performance and promote technologies that foster sustainable development.


About Kai Goerlich

Futurist and resource optimization thought leader

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