The explosion of big data has caused far-reaching ripples in the enterprise. Organizations today are faced with unprecedented challenges in sorting, processing and analyzing their data, which has in turn given rise to a new generation of technologies.
One such example is the R statistics language, which was originally developed by noted statisticians Robert Gentleman and Ross Ihaka at the University of New Zealand in 1997. In recent years, R has emerged as a popular language for advanced analytics, and is also central to the emerging data science movement.
R is used for a variety of functions in some of today's most well-known organizations, having been incorporated into a wide variety of practices due to its open source nature. Developers build specific packages around R to perform industry-specific functions. What follows is a brief sampling of how some of the world's best-known brands are using and customizing R to gain insight from their data.
New York Times Co.
The New York Times graphics department has long used R for its data visualization features. R is often used for interactive graphics that reveal patterns, provide context and describe relationships in visual form. The R-based graphics span all departments -- from breaking news (the destruction of the Haiti earthquake
Amanda Cox of the New York Times' graphics department says, "R makes it easy to read data, generate lines and points, and place them where you want them. It's flexible and quick - which is helpful when you've only got two or three hours until deadline."
To do so, Orbitz uses R to perform statistical analysis on data stored in Hadoop and extracts it with Hive. After extracting data including customer hotel booking records and user ratings of hotels from Hive, the Orbitz team uses statistical analysis to identify the best hotel to promote to the top of the list for each new booking.
Popular online dating site OKCupid collects a lot of data. With over three million members, many of whom have provided extensive detail on their preferences, lifestyle, sexuality and hobbies via their dating profiles, they have a wealth of information upon which to identify trends about the love lives of a typical OKCupid! member.
OKCupid! uses R on its OKTrends
The above examples are but a few examples of how big data is transforming analytics in the enterprise and beyond. Analytics use cases are increasingly varied and complex, which has allowed modern languages like R to emerge as tools of choice for data scientists. While big data certainly presents a challenge to organizations as far as processing and analyzing their information is concerned, it offers an equally large payoff in terms of additional insight that can be gleaned.
R photo by Christopher Woo