Inside Look: How Betterment uses R and Agile to automate data insights

We have partnered with NYC Data Intelligence Meetup and NYC Open Data to put together a technical expose on how R can be used in an Agile manner to empower data workers in organizations large and small.

Big data in fintech is becoming more and more important, and R is quickly becoming a must-have tool in a data worker's tool-belt. It has potency for statistical analysis and charting, but did you now that it can serve you well in a light-weight dashboarding and reporting function too? 

In this hands-on session,  Jon Mauney and Yuriy Goldman of Betterment will show you how R can be integrated into an existing agile development environment to enable a workflow by which any R beginner or expert can produce, deploy, and schedule R driven reports and dashboards. No license fees and no proprietary software: just a tiny bit of DevOps elbow grease to create automation against readily available and familiar open source tools.

The walkthrough will deal with the stack currently humming at Betterment (R Studio, S3, Linux, MySQL, GitHub, Jenkins, Confluence, a shell script, Cron), but it's quite easy to swap in alternative components to fit your own environment. It's the workflow that matters.

Space, food and drinks will be sponsored by Betterment.

Team-based Workshop Component:

We've prepped a fun, Team-based workshop component to help everyone get a feel for the process first-hand.  We are going to collaboratively author and publish a self-updating dashboard using our process. Participation is optional but encouraged.  We expect each team to have a good mix of skill sets, so no prior R or engineering experience required.  Each team will also have a Betterment Captain to help steer you through the exercise. 

To minimize set-up time, please bring your laptops with the following installed:

• http://www.wingfs.com/ - to mount s3 buckets as local drives

• http://git-scm.com/book/en/Getting-Started-Installing-Git - so you can commit your report sections to a common code repo.  Optionally, install the Git GUI: http://sourcetreeapp.com/

• https://www.rstudio.com/ide/download/ - R Studio, but of course!

• http://www.sequelpro.com/ - MySQL client, or whatever you are comfortable with.

Stuck? Don't worry, Teams will most likely author on a single laptop to keep things manageable.  Problems? Leave a comment below.  See you all Monday.



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  • Yuriy Michael G.

    Hello. If you are interested in exploring the workflow on your own, you can find our GitHub repo here: https://github.com/ygoldman/rwizflowy. Note that you'll have to provide your own db instance and deployment environment. Finally, if you are interested in learning more about Betterment's data Team, Polaris - please visit our Betterment's Engineering blog: https://www.betterment.com/blog/topics/engineering/

    April 1, 2014

  • Matt S.

    Wish I was in the city for this. Any chance this will be recorded or memorialized in any way?

    March 17, 2014

    • Yuriy Michael G.

      Hi Matt - we'll try for a recording - if not there will be a public git repo set up with scaffolding and documentation.

      1 · March 17, 2014

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