At every election we start all over again. And traditional parties can no longer think they have convinced voters once and for all, challenging one another and relegating new movements to a merely witnessing function, a minority. They will be forced to convince voters every day, to consolidate a volatile consent. They will have to reconsider their relationship with the Internet. Not with the Web as a tool, but with all the things the Internet is changing and will change more and more in our society. For instance, opening up to the Internet has mainly meant to traditional parties hiring a web expert in the last ten years for. Or, at best, a team for the Web, usually in support of a press office. During the election campaign the staff grows a little, but always only according to a logic connected to communication.
Today all this seems completely unrealistic. As if a company, facing the challenge of Big Data, was content to wage a given scientist, one of those sought after on the market. Problem solved, manned sector. In truth, as it is clear, a reality that perceives the strategic aspect of these trends knows that to ride them in need of highly specialized professionals: social scientists are able to extrapolate from that immense mass of data the information that is functional to business needs, marketing experts who know how to handle them, communication professionals that diversify the message as a function of the data and others. All of them, of course, need to be able to work in teams.
Process innovation is likely to involve virtually every step of the organization. And every sector. What comes to my mind, among the many possible examples, is the study that sprung from the idea of Valerio De Molli and was conducted in 2015 by a working group coordinated by Fabrizio Saccomanni for The European House Ambrosetti in order to analyze the impact of the digital logic and of the Network on the banking system.
Can we apply anything similar to a political movement today? For many people – although in Italy, for reasons that are all too obvious, even theoretical assimilation between a party and a company cause Pavlovian reflexes that are not exactly neutral – the combination holds water. This is because what is happening concerns, as I have said many times, each complex action much more than a company: it has to address millions of people and be accountable to thousands or hundreds of thousands of subscribers.
But it is above all a community. Impossible to hold together today without investing time and money in participation and sharing tools. There are three specific areas on which to work, in my opinion, to understand the transformation brought about by the Internet. First, internal democracy: the shapes and tools to enhance sharing and transform the tools to enrich sharing and innovate decision-making. The Network allows to involve a number of people more quickly and in ways that are more unpretentious and inexpensive than they used to be in the past. A political movement can reap significant benefits.
If properly organized and disciplined, it is a better way to decide, involving plural opinions and more skills. And it is a way to reduce the margin of error and multiply the forms of participation which can generate consent later on. Second area, the conduct of election campaigns. The expenditure of physical and economic energies of an old-fashioned campaign is absolutely untenable when compared to the ability the Internet offers to contact a large number of voters who would be unreachable otherwise. This requires, of course, to build messages and interaction channels that will be differentiated according to the different recipients.
The third area is the permanent interlocution between the political movement and the the the society outside politics. Since – I repeat it – the fickleness of the relationship between voters and parties today is much greater, it is necessary for a political entity to be able to interact with social bodies and with the different segments of the (geographic, demographic, and professional) electorate in a continuous manner. Back in times, the dialogue was centered on the relationship with the intermediary bodies. Today this is no longer enough. Intermediate bodies cover should be respected and valued, but for the dialogue with society, we have to realize the full potential of the Web.
From Going Together, Going Far