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How data analysis techniques power the sharing economy

Sharing-economy companies like Uber and Airbnb may come to typify the future of business. But they couldn't operate successfully without effective data analysis techniques.

The sharing economy has received a lot of press lately, and for good reason. Companies like Uber and Airbnb are fundamentally changing the way that people use consumer services and get paid for providing them. But what many people don't realize is the degree to which data underpins the operations of these companies.

The sharing economy revolution is itself a child of the data economy. The new business models being adopted by sharing-economy companies are made possible by the large volumes of data they collect from their users and the data analysis techniques they use to try to make sense out of all that information.

In presentations at the 2015 Big Data Innovation Summit in Boston, analytics managers from Uber and Airbnb shared some details about how their companies leverage data to develop new products, connect consumers with the services they offer and ensure that their technology platforms are functioning optimally. For example, Silvanus Lee, head of product analytics at Uber, said his team doesn't view the data science process as a mere statistical exercise. "It's statistics plus a lot of judgment," he said.

In this edition of the Talking Data podcast, we take a look at some of the high points of the Uber and Airbnb sessions and discuss how the highly influential companies are where they are today thanks in large part to their vaults of customer data and the analytics tools and strategies they've implemented. Both companies have come up with some innovative approaches to data collection and analysis, and those methods are driving much of their business success.

Listen to the podcast to hear more about how key companies in the sharing economy are changing the face of business in the U.S. with help from analytics software and effective data analysis techniques.

Ed Burns is site editor of SearchBusinessAnalytics. Email him at eburns@techtarget.com and follow him on Twitter: @EdBurnsTT.

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This was last published in September 2015

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