Monday, April 28, 2014

The Deep Dive: SAS vs. R

Last month I conducted a quick “flash survey” of my network to quantify the preferences of the Burtch Works network, and asked: Which do you prefer to use, R or SAS? I posted the initial results on my blog a few weeks ago, and as promised during the webinar for our Data Scientist Salary Study, we've finished up our deeper dive analysis of the data from over 1,000 respondents. Whether you think the results are predictable or surprising I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, as the conversation has been pretty lively so far. Without further ado, here are the greatly anticipated results!

As many theorized, respondents with five or less years of experience were the most likely to favor R.

Although SAS was favored by most education levels, amongst PhD respondents R was almost even with SAS. In looking at PhD respondents with five or less years of experience, R was decidedly more popular than SAS.

In most regions of the United States SAS was the preferred tool, however on the West Coast R is favored over SAS.

In almost every industry SAS is preferred over R, except for Tech, Telecom and Gaming companies. Retail, Pharma/Healthcare, and Financial Services have the strongest preference for SAS.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Great Debate: SAS vs. R

I’ve been recruiting analytics talent for over 30 years, and now over the past few years I have watched open source R seemingly catapult to popularity alongside the proprietary standby SAS. Despite hearing more about R from clients and candidates than ever before, determining whether R was actually more popular than SAS proved difficult. A quick Google search for “R vs. SAS” returns more than a few pages dedicated to each side, as well as several heated LinkedIn discussions relating to the topic, with no definitive answers.

For my latest “flash survey” I wanted to quantify the preferences of the Burtch Works network, and asked one simple question: Which do you prefer to use, R or SAS?

With even more participants responding that couldn’t seem to pick just one or picked neither, this tells me that such a seemingly simple question has a more complex answer. Here are just a few of the entertaining responses we received:

  • “I am a purist, so SAS.”
  • “R - unless you have a ‘both rock’ category – it’s a close one.”
  • “Never learned how to use R. Too damn old.”
  • “R. But isn’t the debate more between R and Python?”
  • “SAS as long as I’m not paying for it.”
  • “SAS. What’s ‘R’? (Joking…)”

Curious as to how these results may vary by factors like industry or years of experience? I know I am! I can’t wait to dig into the data, and in the next few weeks will be posting a full write-up on the blog with our findings. Thanks to all who participated and stay tuned!

Edit: To see our deeper dive into the survey results, including how preferences vary by years of experience, education, region, and industry, please visit The Deep Dive: SAS vs. R

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