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How eBay Uses Data and Analytics to Get Closer to its (Massive) Customer Base

by Renee Boucher Ferguson
published by MIT Sloan Management Review, 2013
Ref SMR55102

How eBay Uses Data and Analytics to Get Closer to its (Massive) Customer BaseIn this fascinating article, Renee Boucher Ferguson interviews eBay senior director, Neel Sundaresan, to find out how the company uses data and analytics to continuously evolve eBay’s numerous sites and services for buyers and sellers.

eBay operates in over 30 countries and has 100 million registered users; this produces a huge amount of data that eBay is capitalising on through data analytics research. Neel Sundaresan reveals a number of fascinating insights about the challenges and opportunities offered by analytics – and why everybody in the company, from engineers to product managers, has to be data driven.

‘In areas where we didn’t even think we could use analytics, we can use it now, just because it’s available,’ says Sundaresan, who explains that the online behaviour of millions of their customers provides a huge amount of valuable data.

‘Business decisions that were made through qualitative data analysis and surveys are now augmented or replaced by readings from real use of the product,’ says Sundaresan. ‘This provides both immediacy and scale to the analysis and decision.’

Renee Boucher Ferguson adds:

The interview with Neel Sundaresan was part of our annual research into data and analytics, conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review and SAS Institute. The research, which consisted of quantitative survey results from 2,500 respondents and qualitative results from about two dozen interviews with global analytics experts, culminated in two reports: our interim report, Innovating With Analytics and our annual research report, From Value to Vision: Reimagining The Possible with Data Analytics. Mr. Sundaresan's insights were instrumental in both undertakings (which can be accessed on our site http://sloanreview.mit.edu/). We are in the process now of completing our 2013-2014 look into data & analytics.

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About the author

Renee Boucher Ferguson is a researcher and editor at MIT Sloan Management Review.

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