How R Can Help Your Business

Looking for innovative ways to use R, the Big Data open source analytics language? Then take a gander at the two top winners of the first of a series of contests that R’s corporate caretaker Revolution Analytics has produced. The winners, announced today, receive prizes that range from $1,000 to $10,000 for their submissions. It is an interesting collection and shows off the power of the language itself.

Warning: this is pretty geeky stuff, with lots of coding examples and descriptions of data sets. But it shows that R is moving mainstream and into common business uses. Revolution claims that R is being used by more than 2 million IT analysts all over the world.

Included is a demonstration of how to use R to collect tweets and apply a naive algorithm to estimate emotional sentiment for the airline industry. Airlines, as Jeffrey Breen states in his submission, rank below the Post Office and insurance companies in terms of customer satisfaction. His algorithm extracts text from the Tweets, estimates the sentiment expressed by the poster, and then scores them. As you can see, Southwest and Jet Blue do better than the traditional carriers, to no surprise. Breen won second place for this app.

The team of Shannon Terry and Ben Ogorek from Nationwide Insurance won the grand prize as well as a second honorable mention for two of their apps. The grand prize winner was for help in real-time forecasting of direct marketing activities, and shows the incremental benefit of a marketing tactic when only a fraction of the marketing responses have been observed. Their lesser prize was for how IT shops can quantify uncertainty in their project estimates.

The contest was judged by a panel of experts from within the R and business communities and included Edd Dumbill, Chair of O’Reilly’s Strata Conference and writer for O’Reilly Media; David Menninger, VP and Research Director at Ventana Research; Steve Miller, technology writer and co-founder of OpenBI LLC; David White, Senior Research Analyst at Aberdeen Group; and Hadley Wickham, R package author and professor at Rice University.

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