Merging the Best Qualities of Data Science and Software Engineering
Energetic Insurance is an insurance startup serving the renewable energy industry. As a startup we are focused on getting things done, fast, with a small technical team. As an insurance company we are also focused on reliability, scalability, and internal usability of our analytics tools. How can we enable rapid development without sacrificing scalability and usability?
Energetic Insurance has a risk analysis platform developed for internal underwriters in evaluating renewable energy risks. We use R throughout our entire technology stack. Our technical team, composed of software engineers and data scientists, loves the ease of coding in R, and how quick it is to start getting results. However we also want the rest of the company to be able to run our analyses and reports unsupervised.
When all we had were a handful of scripts, this wasn’t a huge problem. But as our codebase grew, and our reports and analyses became more intricate, managing versions became a headache. And we needed a way to make these analyses and reports runnable by anybody in the company.
Our process took a number of twists and turns. Our codebase grew in size and complexity, we started adhering to more best practices from the software industry, but along with that, the overall “user-friendliness” diminished quickly. Early on we knew that we could use Shiny or RMarkdown to make our analyses friendly again. But we needed a way of putting Shiny in the cloud to serve anybody in our company wherever they might be, while keeping these models and analyses confidential and private to the company, as they are part of our core IP.
We attempted to set up our own Shiny server, but we couldn’t secure it the way we wanted. We worked for a while with shinyapps.io, which is a fantastic product in its own right, but our demands on computing resources and performance were higher than what we could get.
The RStudio Connect product met every one of our needs. It allows us to maintain control over our apps, integrate our proprietary packages, and manage access and our users. It also allows us to control our compute resources to better manage our longer-running models. It’s also surprisingly easy to set up.
From a usability perspective, we wanted all our data and analysis products to become available to everybody in the company. Not only does this democratize access to company resources, but this approach also frees up time from our data science team because they’re not needed to actually run their analyses— instead, they can be run by anybody in the company, on demand. For such a small team, this is important. None of our fast-moving business opportunities get bottlenecked by any extenuating circumstances.
We’ve found that although RStudio Connect is billed as an “enterprise product,” it also suits the needs of a startup company such as ours. It allows us to be both nimble in our analyses and more sophisticated in our software. And perhaps most importantly it allows us to provide these apps to only the people we want without requiring us to set up a whole authentication service. Ultimately, our core competency is insurance, not software. RStudio Connect allows us to focus on our core business while also enabling us in our business itself.
Energetic Insurance’s analytics and models are mostly geared towards helping our underwriters price insurance policies and assess the risk of individual projects and of our existing portfolio of risks. Read more about our design philosophy here.
Energetic Insurance is a Managing General Underwriter (MGU) with a novel, data-driven approach to develop new risk management products to unlock exponential growth in the renewable energy industry. For solar industry participants who want to do more projects and deploy more capital, EneRate Credit Cover® unlocks solar project financing for the unrated and below investment grade counterparties by covering payment default risk.
EneRate Credit Cover® and other insurance policies are issued by RE3 Energetic Insurance Solutions, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Energetic Insurance, Inc. Energetic Insurance complies with all state-mandated regulations for surplus line insurance brokers, and is licensed as a surplus lines broker in Massachusetts with License #: 2053916.
RStudio provides open source and enterprise-ready professional software for data science teams using R and Python.