51% of data professionals confirm that their company has concerns when it comes to utilising open-source R

Media release

Survey reveals IT restrictions and compliance as main obstacles to using open-source R, specifically among highly regulated sectors including finance, government and pharmaceutical.


16 October, 2020 – London, UK – Research released today from data analytics consultancy Mango Solutions, found that just over half of data professionals polled say their companies have concerns related to the use of R – an open-source analytics language rapidly gaining traction for its flexibility, capability and commercial advantage across a range of industries.  The research highlighted that IT restrictions (37%) – mainly data security and technical support processes – and compliance (18%), were the key concerns organisations currently have around the use of open-source R.

Approximately 300 respondents were surveyed, working primarily in the government, finance and pharmaceutical/life science sectors – highly regulated industries in which support, governance and traceability are vital. Chief Data Scientist and Mango Solutions co-founder Rich Pugh said: “We can understand the concerns, considering that open-source software has traditionally been uncontrolled, with usage risks extending to technical and operational, regulatory, security, legal and brand reputation.”

“The fact is open-source enables developers, boosts innovation and advances competitiveness and it’s no surprise that technology innovators are using 60 to 80% of open source code. In the data science space, R is one of the most popular analytic languages in the world. Driven by a global community of innovative coders and members of the R community, the power of R arises due to the volume and limitless scope of additional packages made available via several public repositories.”

But as with most open-source software, the inherent risks remain, leading to a reluctance of trust in use of R because data practitioners are unable to satisfy their IT and compliance team’s requirements, as demonstrated by the survey findings.

Highly worrying is that in the absence of an analytics language like R, up to 29% of respondents admitted that MS Excel was their company’s primary data and modelling tool. In the light of recent news where 16,000 Covid-19 cases were unreported due to an Excel error the fact that nearly a third of companies are relying on Excel as their primary data tool is concerning.

With the majority of respondents being data practitioners, it seems likely that they cannot satisfy their IT teams that R offers a reproducible and safe software process. Were usage not limited or restricted there certainly would be an appetite to use open source R – 55% of respondents confirmed that their R usage would increase if company permissions allowed.

About Mango Solutions:

Mango Solutions has been empowering organisations to make informed decisions using data science and advanced analytics since 2002. In addition to delivering data science projects for some of the world’s best-known companies, Mango also offers a comprehensive range of training and upskilling programmes for all user levels to help organisations build a successful data science capability internally.