At the end of March, Betterment’s data team, aka Team Polaris, hosted about 70 data and R enthusiasts at our office space. The topic for the event, Light-weight Dashboarding and Reporting Workflows with R was a hands-on, inside look at how Betterment uses Agile and R to automate data insights while empowering our data analysts to self-serve.
Light-weight, agile processes supported by pragmatic automation are foundational to Betterment’s engineering culture. When our data scientists needed a lift to produce visual and repeatable analysis, we introduced a frugal stack of cloud and open source technologies to make it happen.
Key points from the presentation
Bootstrap. Don’t introduce complexity into your environment until you really need it.
Leverage the skill set of your organization. If your analysts are great with R, productionize an R workflow.
Automate. Pragmatic engineering can empower your analysts while supporting your process.
Freemium Cloud, first. IaaS providers like Amazon have a free tier to help you get started. Try it before you buy it.
Use Hosted Tools and Services. There are powerful hosted tools and services out there, like Travis-CI, to help you automate your workflow. Add them to your toolkit.
The presentation included a team exercise component so that folks could experience the workflow and technologies first-hand. Here is Patrick Burns, our data analyst extraordinaire holding court with his team.
All scaffolding code used to demo this workflow is available on GitHub: https://github.com/ygoldman/rwizflowy. Slides from our Presentation are likewise available here. And, if you’d like to set up the same or similar environment on your own, this walk-through document will surely come in handy. Let us know how it goes.
In fact, if your organization is interested in learning more about this workflow, Team Polaris just might accept an invitation to lunch.
¹Big On Data looks at the intersection of Business Intelligence and Big Data technologies and their impact on today’s data professional; Yuriy M Goldman has been running this meetup since 2008.
²FinTech puts on topical panels and networking events for Financial Technology professionals; this meetup is organized by Betterment’s Nick Gavronsky, also since 2008.
³NYC Open-Data hosts educational, hands-on workshops for folks interested in statistical analysis, R language, and data science.
Jon Mauney contributed to this blog post.
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