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What Will We Learn from the Iowa Caucus App Fiasco?


Sometimes, it takes an unexpected headline story with perceived crisis-level impacts to get the world’s collective attention and action on an important matter.

This point has been made (and repeated) many times by well-known people in various ways and circumstances across different generations.

Remember the line: “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste,” from Rahm Emanuel and Paul Romer? Or, “If You Have a Lemon, Make a Lemonade,” from Julius Rosenwald and Dale Carnegie?

Well no matter how you slice it, the Iowa Democratic caucus mobile computer application (app) that was placed into action this past week qualifies as a lemon.

So how can we make lemonade out of this Iowa caucus app “debacle” situation?

Putting the politics, conspiracy theories, election ramifications and inevitable finger-pointing exercises aside, what happened to cause such an issue? Equally important, what didn’t happen? Another related question for all of us includes: What is the true cost when an app fails?

Online retailers have precise models that can analyze revenue loss down to the seconds when an app crashes. Fast food chains can tally lost sales. Marketing and PR firms can quantify brand damage impact from clunky design. Even app hacks and identity theft costs can be quantified after a security incident.

But in the case of this Iowa caucus app, we may not know the answer to that cost question for years, due to huge number of ramifications and possible future outcomes. Some are even wondering if the Iowa caucuses will ever be the same or maintain the “first in the nation” status in the 2024 elections. 

A Quick Iowa Caucus App Primer

But backing up a bit, NPR reported in January that the Iowa’s Democratic Party was confident in the new app and also the backup processes in place (Read more…)



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