The Growing Momentum of ‘R’ in Data Analysis 05 Feb 2015

The Growing Momentum of ‘R’ in Data Analysis

The use of R in data analysis — the R programming language — has been steadily growing for the past 15 years. Why use R? Because it works: R has been used to solve challenging problems in data visualization and computational statistics. Practical applications of this valuable statistical tool range from quantitative marketing to medical physics.

Here is an overview of ‘R’ from Research Optimus.

What Is R?

R is increasingly viewed as an alternative to statistical packages like SAS and SPSS — it is an open-source language that facilitates advanced graphical displays and data transformation. The growing value of visual communication for businesses has given an extra boost to R. It is widely taught in advanced analytics university courses. On a practical level, R is used on a daily basis by corporate statisticians.

Statistical Techniques in Market Research

The use of statistics in the business world is hardly new — for many years, advanced statistical techniques have been employed in total quality management and market research. What has changed, however, is that the era of “Big Data” has made analyzing and interpreting data an even bigger challenge. Business managers and corporate executives need better statistical tools to help them make the leap from an endless stream of data to practical business solutions.

Choosing the Right Statistical Analysis Tool

Despite the recognized value of statistics for helping companies of all sizes, there has always been an intimidation factor to overcome when statistical analysis is involved — if you are not a statistics expert, how do you choose the “right” statistical tool? This dilemma has led to many companies choosing an expensive “default” statistics package such as SPSS.

The wide availability of R now provides an easier and cheaper statistical solution — it also enables production of publication-quality graphics. In an increasingly visual world, the power of data visualization assumes a much more important role, and R makes this a practical reality regardless of your statistical expertise.

Benefits of R

The multiple benefits of ‘R’ are impressive for all business users. Here are three primary benefits:

  • R is free — Open source business solutions such as the R programming are frequently more cost-effective than expensive software packages.
  • R is a cross-platform application — Whether you operate in a Windows, Mac OS X or GNU/Linux environment, R is a viable alternative. R also integrates well with SPSS and Excel.
  • R has an active user base and is actively supported — You will find ample (free) documentation that is exceptionally detailed.

However, you should expect to need some initial expert help from experienced data management specialists such as Research Optimus — migrating from a GUI (Graphical User Interface) environment for manipulating data can be tricky without a few specialized steps.

Creating High-Impact Data Visualizations

Effective data visualization requires that you move beyond traditional line plots and bar charts. While it might initially seem difficult to transform complex data into a meaningful and easily understandable format, you can regularly find stunning “infographics” in popular publications — just take a quick look at the Economist and New York Times for vivid examples. Thought leaders such as Edward Tufte and Bill Cleveland have also advanced a very public case for businesses visualizing multidimensional data with 3-D surfaces and multi-panel charts.

R is an important tool to help you produce your own infographics — this will impress your customers while also helping your company stand apart from your competitors. Research Optimus can help you save money and improve your market research results by using R.

Have you tried R? Please share your experiences with a comment and by using the social media buttons.

– Research Optimus

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