In our big data for development work, we collaborate with data-savvy economists as well as economists who can code. Within Sri Lanka, we have not found them, but we keep looking. But looks like this is the future of economics.
But what the tech economists are doing is different: Instead of thinking about national or global trends, they are studying the data trails of consumer behavior to help digital companies make smart decisions that strengthen their online marketplaces in areas like advertising, movies, music, travel and lodging.
Tech outfits including giants like Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft and up-and-comers like Airbnb and Uber hope that sort of improved efficiency means more profit.
At Netflix, Randall Lewis, an economic research scientist, is finely measuring the effectiveness of advertising. His work also gets at the correlation-or-causation conundrum in economic behavior: What consumer actions occur coincidentally after people see ads, and what actions are most likely caused by the ads?