The Australian Federal Government election has delivered an uncertain result that was always certain to eventuate. By taking an active analytics approach, either party could have changed the election outcome, and they would have been able to do it without a time machine. I will explain how by taking our focus back to the future of politics.
Nielsen polling typically provides two polling results to the public through the media. These are, specifically, party preference and leader preference. With decades of experience in pre-election polls, Neilsen are able to accurately predict the result of an election, in the case of Australia's August 21 Federal Election, a hung parliament was indeed predicted and happened. But this is only part of the story and arguably why the polls are so accurate and actions to change them are few and far between. The previous election predicted Kevin Rudd and the Labour party would win the election and they did and previous polls highlighted John Howard's Liberal Party wins would come and they did.
Boring...in fact one may argue that we could save money on the election and just use the polls to determine the democratic result.
Nielsen polls are credible and have a strong track-record. With confidence that the data is accurate and represents the end result before it happens, we have the power to change the future. That is, of course, if we have the right data to understand what to do. Instead of letting these polls represent the future, polls should be an accurate representation of what could happen at certain points in time rather than what will happen.
In the case of the August 21 election, the two political parties have arguably lost ground with such a close result, handing decision-making to a handful of independents and the Green candidate for Melbourne. The prospect of a minority government is somewhat bleak with the governing party or opposition policies not getting through unless ministers and senators "cross the floor" on issues of debate. In this case, our country will demand a great responsibility of those who can tip the balance.
When Marty McFly and the "Doc" from Back to the Future saw that a particular action by Biff Tannin had resulted in their dismal future, they rocketed off to the past in the Delorean and took action there to change the course of history. We can’t time travel however, changing the status quo for improvement forces innovation, and, in our case, political dynamism. In the movie it was going from a petrol to garbage powered time machine, a skateboard to hoverboard or an automobile to steam locomotive time machine, in our real time we need some innovation in this political model. While we do not have the capability for time travel (I wish someone in strange clothes with futuristic gadgets would appear behind me and tell me I am wrong), we currently have such accurate predictive polling data that we arguably can predict what will happen. I would like to see that model change from what will happen to what would happen if no action was taken and what could happen if it was.
But you don't need a time machine when you have a Data Warehouse and analytics discipline in your organisation to predict and act to change the path of prediction to another outcome. Quality, trusted data plus analysis, equals the opportunity for action before something happens or the same predictable result occurs. This is exactly the capability required by politicians and the political parties in Australia.
If a campaign is run on a set of maxims, in the case of Tony Abbott they were, but not limited to, "stop the spending, stop the waste, stop the boats..." and the predicted results say you will have a hung parliament you should ideally change the game. Taking a blind risk without some science is not necessarily the way to go either, if Tony Abbott came up with a policy, for arguments sake, on investment in athlete facilities without knowing what was important to constituents, the result may indeed have no effect, miss the mark and be seen as wasteful or take away from the strength of other policies.
So to change what is predicted you need to understand what is important, to whom, where they are; and know you can fund, support and deliver policy to address that which is important and will arguably win support. This requires detailed information about relevant issues to a constituency. Geospatial data and electorates, census data, finance and treasury data, market trends (i.e. building, economy, import/export, polling data), media scans and social network analysis and general data on public opinions and Federal Government service delivery satisfaction. They are but a few data sources in a sea of them. With the integration of this and other relevant data, you can build a relevant campaign that addresses something meaningful; covering the who, what, when, where and why of a policy. If people are not convinced you understand them - understand them better!
Using some science to change the game is like the lightning bolt at midnight for our Back to the Future friends. There is limited time to act effectively; have the right data, at the right time with someone willing to act for a game-changing result. Election time would present a new challenge: "So many great, meaningful policies to choose from." Now that would be a great reason for a hung parliament!
If you thought this election was a cliff-hanger result, things would be a lot more interesting if the future was less certain and we were watching scientific campaigns play out like lightning bolts and time travel.