Thursday, March 15, 2007

On-Demand Politics: Lessons From the Business Web, a Summary

Hosted by Andrew Michael Baron (Rocketboom), this panel was essentially a discussion of why people think that politics trails the corporate world in terms of technology. This panel includes Dan Burton, the founder of salesforce.com, which was founded to "make business technology as easy to use as amazon.com", Laura Quinn, or a newer company called Catalyst, which provides voter information to progressive campaigns, including the presidential campaign, to help them organize publicity and move ahead into the new century of computers and such, Keith Tomatore, of Newsweek and the Washington Post, Jim Yu, of United Way of America, the leadership organisation of the United Way's throughout the country.

After the introductions, Dan got up to discuss the "Secret Weapons of the 08 Campaigns". Its not cool videos, or even a blog, the web is a utility to be used. He begins by taking us back to 1999, where Smartphones and DSL were all but non-existent, while now, the Internet has become relatively inexpensive and easy to use. He then asks why Political Campaigns cant use an on-demand platform to the extent that websites like Amazon or eBay do. He says the new way of the Internet is a much better system of "software as a service", because it is relatively software free and requires very little IT Infrastructure. The Internet also allows for internal managing as well as external publicity, all in one source, available almost anywhere. The network is in a "shared-tenant structure" allowing for your site to be a part of an enormous data center. Its relatively secure, and the scale of the Internet allows for the smallest sheriffs campaign to match the same features as the biggest fortune 500 company. The Internet is so easy to use also from a technological standpoint, as your IP company needs to make you happy so you feel like you get what you're paying for. Also, your IT department will love it, as the Internet is almost always on the front of new technology, while the Internet is also easy to upgrade, easy to use, and almost always standardized. Its aesthetically pleasing in its ease of navigation and it also allows you to do easy research for your own for records, such as donor backgrounds. Dan calls Software as a Service a minimum burden on your IT department, with no hidden cost. If you desire more info, the company does have a booth. He closed with use the Internet to run your organisation, as it can be the best weapon to run your campaign.

Jim Yu discussed how the United Way uses salesforce as a user to connect their sales, as well as for unique opporunities and such and for consumer service. He says that over 12,000 paid employees can use it with relative ease, and do use it. This program allows for a 360 degree view of the consumer.

Keith Tomatore, discussed that as his company grew, IT systems were still on an old architecture and were a pain to organize, while when they used salesforce.com, the system finally became simplified and was easily and readily accessible to his sales reps all over the world. Prior to that the company had been using e-mail and other inefficient means of information management.

Laura Quinn doesn't use salesforce, and takes a different route, a more political discussion. Specifically discussing how the expansion of technology allows for richer conversations. Contact management is now a breeze and so you can remember your contacts and develop a more personal relationship with the people in your campaign. She then goes on to describe how once a campaign was over, the data from the campaign was lost, whereas the system that catalist uses allows for the infinite storage of the information and data gathered from campings.

A quick side note, when Andrew Baron got up to speak he asked who knew what Web 2.0 was, and just about every hand in the room went up. This is a good sign of the connectivity and knowledge of the audience.

This concluded the individual opinions, and a more conversational panel and Question and Answer session with the panel members followed.

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