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How Booking.com’s data scientist uses predictive analytics – PAW interview


Lukas Vermeer will speak at the upcoming Predictive Analytics World for Business, 11-12 October in London. His Keynote will focus on new perspectives on the Data Science challenges we face today.



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True innovation starts with asking Big Questions



Interview with Lukas Vermeer from Booking.com



As Predictive Analytics World London draws closer, Lukas Vermeer, Data Scientist at Booking.com, and one of the speakers, answered our burning questions on the role Data Scientists play at the world’s leading accommodation website. Here is an extract of the full interview:

Lukas Vermeer's Interview for Data Driven Business London 2017

"Booking uses predictive analytics for lots of different things! In fact, I honestly struggle to think of a single department that is not using predictive analytics in one way or another. [...] Unlike many other companies, we try to validate almost all changes we make to our product through in vivo randomised controlled trials. To achieve this, we run experiments at a massive scale. We need all of our product development teams to understand the basics of hypothesis testing and the statistics behind it. My job is to improve the tooling and education that makes this possible.

[...] In my opinion the “Big Data” and “Data Science” rhetoric of recent years has been focused too much on collecting, storing and analysing existing data. [...] However, the greatest discoveries in both science and business rarely come from analysing things that are already there. True innovation starts with asking Big Questions. Only then does it become apparent which data is needed to find the answers we seek. [...] Science is about asking important questions and thinking about what data would need to be gathered to answer them."

But how do we achieve this challenge of finding or creating new data sources? "I think in many cases it is much easier to improve model performance by changing the way in which data is collected then by changing the way it is processed. [...] What is more, when building products using predictive analytics, we should also think about how our models will affect the data we will have available going forward. [...] As data scientists, we need to understand that what we build will influence the world in ways that might affect the data we collect, and how we can use this to our advantage."

"[...] I think that in general many companies need to rethink their organisational silos and approach to product development. Teams should be centred around an objective or product, not around a set of skills. That way, data scientists, developers and marketing experts can work together much more closely in heterogeneous teams to achieve company objectives, such as building better predictive models. [...]"

Lukas Vermeer will speak at the upcoming Predictive Analytics World for Business, 11-12 October in London. His Keynote will focus on new perspectives on the Data Science challenges we face today.

To meet Lukas, many other top international experts in the Industry, to learn, discuss and network with them, reserve your spot at Predictive Analytics World London. You can have a peek at the full agenda and pick the sessions most relevant to you and your business here.



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