In an all-star panel on Day 2 of the Gigaom Data Structure conference this week, data nerds from LinkedIn, Airbnb, and Uber discussed the importance of data science in the world of modern software, arguing that “the best websites aren’t just built, they’re calculated” (perhaps our favorite sessions title of the day).
“Everything we do is driven by data,” said Yael Garten, manager of mobile data science at LinkedIn. “The value we provide to our members is based on the quality of the data we collect to create more engaging experiences.”
LinkedIn, along with the widely popular Airbnb and Uber, are all leveraging data in various ways to improve the experiences they’re delivering to their customers. LinkedIn, for example, is using data to make better business and product strategy decisions; Uber, meanwhile, leverages geospatial data to better match its drivers with rider preferences; and Airbnb uses data to understand where the opportunities—and room for improvement—lie within the company’s lodging offerings.
Beyond “Vanity” Metrics
“Data is the lifeblood of the business,” said Riley Newman, head of the data science group at Airbnb,. Data serves as the voice of the customer; a way for the team to keep a pulse on what’s working and what’s not.
Newman went on to explain that while real-time, “vanity” metrics are certainly helpful in making sure your site isn’t broken, it’s the longer-term weekly, quarterly, and annual metrics that are the truly important ones to the business—the ones that give you deep, data-driven insights.
Data For Everyone
“It’s a misperception that data can only be used by tech companies,” said Newman. As long as you’re being creative in how you log data, any type of company can leverage data to make better business decisions.
Uber’s senior data scientist Henry Lin offered advice to young companies looking to build a data science team: “First, gather data through as many means as possible. Second, come up with cool projects. Before you can build a vibrant team, you need to incentivize them with cool things to build.”
Once you’ve got your data science team up and running? “Create tools that put data in the hands of the executives, the management team, the product owners, and the designers, so that everyone can access this self-served and democratized data to look at how decisions are being made at the company,” added Garten. Once you have that culturally instilled at the company, you’re in the ideal position to start making decisions based on data.
Learn more about the data science approaches at LinkedIn, Airbnb, and Uber (who are coincidentally all New Relic customers) in the video below or in this Gigaom article.