Increasing the Impact of Data at Stack OverflowJulia Silge / Data Scientist at Stack Overflow
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The data team at Stack Overflow works mainly in R and SQL for statistical analysis and modeling, and produces work that impacts every single visitor to the site. Communicating analytical results was frustrating, though; some documents were shared internally via a web-based office suite, some reports were manually emailed, and the team maintained an installation of Shiny Server Open Source for interactive apps. “We were spending too much time on the logistics of sharing our results,” says Julia Silge, data scientist at Stack Overflow. “The workflow we had was not consistent or efficient.”
Stack Overflow turned to RStudio Connect to solve these publishing and knowledge sharing frustrations. The data team now publishes reports written in R Markdown and Shiny apps on RStudio Connect, in one convenient place. Some analyses that involve lengthy calculations are published as completed reports only, and analyses or dashboards that need to be updated regularly are published as executable, scheduled reports to be run every week or month.
The data team organizes regular sessions where developers and analysts across the company are invited to practice R, analysis, visualization, and modeling skills. Before adopting RStudio Connect, the results of these sessions were often not tracked, but now they can be easily published with the push of a button so the knowledge is shared more broadly.
An RStudio professional product was a natural choice for the data team at Stack Overflow because such a product fits seamlessly in the existing R-centric workflows of the team and makes each individual more productive immediately. SREs are happy with the technical support from the team at RStudio, and decision-makers who are consuming the analytics results, from executives to product managers to marketers, are happy that the data team is working and sharing results more efficiently.
The data team started by only publishing simple, completed reports, but the more complex features have proved to be significant force multipliers for the data team. Silge shares, “My favorite feature right now is the ability to schedule reports to execute every week or month, integrating data from multiple sources including our internal databases and a proprietary survey platform.” The data team at Stack Overflow is small, just a handful of people, and RStudio Connect allows the work of these individuals to be more effective than it would be otherwise. The features of RStudio Connect and ease of publishing increase the impact of data work throughout the organization.
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