What do you think of when you think, “analytics?”
For typical Web administrators and tech-savvy individuals, the likely answer is Google Analytics, the ubiquitous program that collects and visualizes data about Website visitors. It’s easily the most widely-used application of its kind, partly because it’s free.
And partly because it’s just really good.
But tracking Website hits is far from the end-all and be-all of data gathering. All kinds of organizations use analytics to get the data they need, and all of them have needs that run the gamut when it comes to the type of data they collect and how they use it.
For many businesses, the R open source project has become one of the most powerful analytical tools available. It’s an entirely unique programming language used specifically for analytics of every shape and scale imaginable.
R, however, isn’t a Web application like Google Analytics. It’s actually bigger than that–much bigger. Here are 3 reasons why it’s so widely used:
1. Open source platform
Since R is open source, every development, modification, and improvement to the code is at the fingertips of anyone who endeavors to use it. If you start using R today, you stand to benefit from over 15 years of source code development.
And it costs nothing, of course. Any organization can download R for free at r-project.org.
2. A community of experts
As with any open source project, R offers access to a thriving community of experienced users who can assist newcomers being exposed to the code for the first time.
Most Google Analytics users will also be familiar with WordPress, the open source content management system for online publishers. To understand the R community and how it operates, it may help to compare that community to the veritable plethora of WordPress experts around the world who provide free advice and information.
When your organization starts using R, the community comes as an added bonus. And it’s a bonus you don’t have to pay for.
3. Feature-packed and benefit-heavy
R really does a lot–and it’s a fairly simple programming language to learn.
The simple visualization of data sits at the core of the R platform, and the code provides loads of ways to reproduce data in easy-to-digest forms. If you’ve recently run across a scatterplot, bar graph, or pie chart in a major media publication, chances are good that R played a role in getting that data and putting it into a form that was easy to understand.
Advanced users can modify the code to do virtually anything that involves the gathering and presentation of data. The functional possibilities are endless, and users are constantly making changes that build upon the R community’s past accomplishments.
It wouldn’t even be accurate to say that R takes Google Analytics up a notch. It’s really a different animal entirely with a completely different influence. If nothing else, just knowing R is out there should underscore how necessary analytical analysis is for a wide range of organizations.
Author Bio:- Adam Green is an Atlanta-based copywriter and R open source disciple. He also moonlights (and sometimes daylights) as a musician and is a bit of a tech maniac. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamGreenMedia.