Christophe Nicault



Who are you, and what do you do?

Hi! I’m Christophe Nicault (Chris), and I’m a Business and Digital transformation consultant based in the UK, you can find me on my website, on my twitter account and on Github. I help companies upgrade and optimise their business processes and information systems so that they can make faster, and better-informed decisions, allowing their teams more capacity to spend on more innovative and human tasks.

My particular focus over the last year has been process mining: helping medium sized businesses use the data available in their system to create opportunities for more automation and real time communication. This is where my work in R comes in handy.

Before that, I worked as a CIO in France, and spent my free time in nature, hiking or skiing.

How do you use R? What are your favorite packages?

I came across R a bit randomly while taking a course on statistics to refresh my knowledge before diving into machine learning. I thought at that time that it would be a great tool to solve many business problems that my users had in my time as CIO, as I would see the finance and operations teams spending many hours to manipulate their data with Excel.

I use R for data analysis, machine learning, data visualisation and data manipulation such as interfaces, automation. My number one package is ggplot2, followed by the tidyverse in general. This ecosystem is really fantastic to increase productivity, and conduct analysis, data manipulation, data cleaning.

For machine learning I am a big fan of LightGBM, and data.table also helped me at times when dealing with huge quantities of data and managing memory issues.

I also develop dashboards and applications with Shiny.

I can’t cite them all, but there are so many fantastic packages that makes working with R easier, like patchwork, cowplot, ggtext, showtext for data visualisation.

What hardware do you run R on? Do you use any other software tools?

I run R on my 5-year-old Dell laptop – It’s a bit out of date but it gets the job done. In terms of software tools, I use tools that address specific needs such as Talend Open Studio, Visual Studio Code for other language (Python, PHP, Javascript), VMWare or VirtualBox with Linux server and Bash for automation.

Do you have any projects that you’re working on right now?

I just completed the design on my process mining application, which is a Shiny application to interface with bupaR and extend its possibility with different types of visualisations, to help companies analyse all dimensions of their business processes (structure, resources, performance, compliance). I’m working now on building my customer base – but marketing is not my zone of genius!

I also want to expand my toolbox with data visualization and learn Illustrator to get a better sense at designing, and D3.js to add interactivity, especially to use with htmlwidgets and Shiny.

I’ve really enjoyed participating in challenges like #TidyTuesday or the #30DayChartChallenge and I hope to continue as much as I can balancing around my workload.