The rise of R EARL conference 2015

Nick Mandella our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 11/2/2015 1:21 PM
There is a fundamental shift happening in the analytics space at the moment, one which is seeing the rise of open-source software staking its claim on the sector. More frequently we at Harnham are seeing companies of all sizes introducing open-source software such as R, Python and Hadoop. Moving away from the traditional analytics tools of the past – most notably, SAS. This dramatic shift is something which has been comfortably reinforced at the EARL conference 2015.  Back by popular demand, it hosts a number of key figures in the analytics space to showcase the latest trends and topics in R.

Over the past decade R programming has arguably become the most important tool for statistical analysis, data visualisation and predictive modelling, used by statisticians and data scientists to name a few, in both academia and the commercial world.

The Benefit of Being Open

So why is R so great? Well first of all, being open-source, it’s FREE – anyone can use it. Who doesn't like stuff that comes for free? After this, you also have a robust tool that can manage any statistical task whilst providing the ability to deliver high quality visualisations. Something nicely illustrated by Joe Cheng’s presentation on the increasingly popular applications of Rshiny. On top of this, once you know how to, it’s easy to use R, and gives fast results. Romain Francois and Dirk Eddelbuettel’s ‘Rccp’ package is a perfect example of this, and has become the most widely used R package. Seamlessly combining the power of C++ and an easy to approach API that lets you write high-performance code it’s easy to see why.

Finally (and probably most importantly) its open-source nature means it becomes a collaborative effort to constantly find ways to improve its use, keeping the tool ahead of the game. With over 2 million users worldwide experimenting, finding bugs and working together as a community. R manages to stay at the forefront of its field. A tool of this nature has thrived as well as similar projects, such as Linux and MySQL; in culture; which has collaboration/brainstorming and sharing information as the key to its continued furtherance and enrichment.

One Step Ahead of the Competition

Combine these factors, and you can see why R has become one of – if not the – most popular analytics software tools right now. Both companies and universities alike are jumping on the bandwagon, meaning that more and more analysts are coming into the field having added R to their toolbox. What occurs is a snowball effect, sustaining the continued rise of R.

With R thriving it places a huge pressure on others to keep up – can they adapt or will they soon come to play little, if any, part in the analytics space in years’ to come? Whilst there was little talk at the EARL Conference about R’s biggest competitor, it became clear that the battle beginning to take shape, potentially for the years to come is between R and Python. Who will win the fight to become the data scientist’s language of choice? Despite all the talk it is obvious to see that there are pros and cons to both, and use cases whereby one would be more effective than the other. Therefore is it really a war? Or, is the outcome more likely a co-existence?

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Weekly News Digest: 3rd - 7th May 2021

This is Harnham’s weekly news digest, the place to come for a quick breakdown of the week’s top news stories from the world of Data & Analytics.      Personnel Today: Top 50 firms for gender equality named This week it was great to see that leading recruitment publication, Personnel Today, reported on the organisations that have continued efforts to improve gender equality over the past year. These names were also featured on The Times Top 50 Employers for Women. Household names including PepsiCo UK & Ireland and Royal Mail; public sector bodies including the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Transport; law firms including Allen and Overy and Pinsent Masons; and financial and insurance institutions including Santander and Aviva all take a spot on the 2021 list. The pandemic has, without doubt, placed greater emphasis on how much progress still needs to be made to achieve gender equality. However, it’s great to see awareness, recognition and celebration of organisations that are contributing to the narrative of success for women in business. See more on this here. Retail Insight Network: What online retailers can expect as high street footfall increases “The fact that e-commerce and social media are intrinsically entwined has allowed brands to engage directly with customers through virtual means.” These are the expert thoughts of Oracle NetSuite retail industry principal Zak Rafiq, talking to Retail Insight Network about what retailers can expect amid increasing footfall and why a direct-to-consumer strategy may be imperative in the current retail landscape. A successful direct-to-consumer strategy can put online retailers in control and offers a good opportunity to drive revenue without the costly overhead associated with physical retail. By operating in an online space, retailers can build a strong understanding of their consumer profile, in turn crafting a strategy for how to engage them (particularly post-pandemic) and generating an impactful and long-lasting customer experience. To read more on this topic, click here. KDNuggets: Best Podcasts for Machine Learning Podcasts are continuing to surge in popularity. In particular from a business perspective, those that feature interviews with industry experts can prove to be a vital tool for professionals to learn about subfields, and the latest innovations in their area of expertise – and beyond! This great summary article from KDNuggets outlines the best podcasts to help data professionals, who are either keen to learn or already seasoned practitioners, get a better understanding of machine learning. A few mentioned on the list include: Gradient DissentDeepMind: The PodcastLex Fridman PodcastChai Time Data ScienceMachine Learning Street Talks To read the full article and add these to your subscriptions, read more here.  TechRepublic: Microsoft is boosting its support for the Python programming ecosystem We love this article from TechRepublic, sharing the positive news from Microsoft this week, as the organisation is set to increase its support for the Python community. This means that the programming language will be pushed forward in emerging fields like data science. A pretty big step for the industry. What does this mean? Well, the tech giant has pledged $150,000 in financial sponsorship to the Python Software Foundation, the non-profit organization that holds the rights to the language – the creator of Python, Guido van Rossum, even came out of retirement last year to work with Microsoft on their plans to support the community of Python programmers. It will certainly be worth keeping an eye on where this goes next. We’ll definitely be paying close attention! To read more about this, click here.  We've loved seeing all the news from Data & Analytics in the past week, it’s a market full of exciting and dynamic opportunities. To learn more about our work in this space, get in touch with us at info@harnham.com.    

Three Years Of GDPR: The Evolution Of Data Protection

Since its inception in 1991, the World Wide Web – or the internet – has grown immeasurably, with its capabilities exceeding the expectations of anyone who witnessed its implementation only 30 years ago. Now, it’s hard to think of a world without it; where would we be without unlimited knowledge at the touch of a button, the ability to maintain friendships with people halfway across the world or cat videos? Of course, the internet isn’t always a positive place. As the popularity of the online world grew, there also became an increased risk, particularly to our identities and our money.  In 1998, to combat the mismanagement of data both online and offline, Parliament passed the Data Protection Act. Compiled of eight different principles, from fair and lawful processing to disallowing data transfers from outside of the EU, this law aimed to help reduce the risk of data mismanagement and data breaches, while holding the power to fine and prosecute those who didn’t comply.  In January 2012, the European Commission wanted to take these laws one step further. As we began to enter a digital-first age, where the online world began to blend seamlessly with our daily lives, questions around whether the Data Protection Act of 1998 was robust enough to protect EU citizens.  On May 25th, 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced. Not only did this new law enforce tougher rules around data protection, including the protection of genetic data and biometrics, but it made business data collection far more transparent. For the first time, internet users were able to see exactly how and why their data was being used, and they were given the autonomy to opt-out of giving away sensitive data. Additionally, consumers now have the right to request ‘to be forgotten’, with all stored data being wiped from a business’ database with the click of a button.  As we edge closer to the three-year anniversary of the implementation of GDPR, we look at how the new laws have impacted both consumers and businesses, for better and for worse.  Consumer trust Both sides of the coin tell a very different story when it comes to consumer trust and GDPR. The general consensus amongst businesses across the EU is that GDPR has greatly improved consumer trust, with 73 per cent reporting that the regulations have notably improved data security. Unfortunately, this sentiment isn’t shared by consumers.  84 per cent feel that GDPR hasn’t been taken seriously by businesses, and the level of security they feel when giving data to certain sectors varies hugely. While financial services, such as banks, have gained nearly half of consumers’ trust, hospitality, for example, are lagging behind with not even a quarter of consumers happy with the level of security.  But, looking at data breaches that have occurred since the implementation of GDPR, this level of dissatisfaction and worry from consumers comes as no surprise. From 280 million Microsoft users’ data being left unprotected to over a million of Mashable’s staff and consumer data being leaked by hackers, GDPR hasn’t necessarily solved the problems it was set out to manage, and consumers are concerned.  Consumer control Despite the worry of continued breaches and hacks, consumers do feel however that GDPR has improved the control they have over their own data. From being able to opt-in instead of having to opt-out, to having greater choice over the information given away through cookies, consumers feel much happier to be able to walk away from the brands they don’t trust and/or have no interest in.  Education around Data privacy  GDPR, since its inception, has been something that has eluded many. Filled with jargon and lacking much in the way of accessible educational assets, consumers – while aware of their data concerns – are still unsure of how to protect themselves against hacks or breaches. For example, only 14 per cent of internet users encrypt private conversations and only a third change their passwords regularly.  While GDPR has undoubtedly been a positive step forward for businesses and consumers alike, it is clear there is room for great improvement. It is expected that as the world continues to evolve into a digital-first society, especially post-COVID as many of us move online for good in our working lives, and the need for much-improved data security becomes paramount, GDPR laws and business compliance will need to continue to evolve and improve and fast.  If you're looking for your next opportunity, or to build out your Data & Analytics team, we can help. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more. 

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