by Catalina Arango
Posted on October 26, 2016 at 11:35 AM
Many people believe R is highly superior to Excel for Data Analysis. I would agree that R has many functionalities that Excel does not have, though the learning curve is steeper. However, just because a tool allows you more flexibility doesn't necessarily mean that it is the right tool for you. In this blog, I will compare Excel and R at a very high level and give you some things to consider before switching over.
While Excel is pretty much ubiquitous at established companies, R is an open source, i.e. free, alternative that allows you to do everything you do on Excel, and more.
Excel has the Column, Row format that provides a structure for your data which is always visible while you work. Excel deals well with date formats and has a good enough selection of formulas you can combine to manipulate text as you like. In addition, Excel has a great Financial Formulas package.
R itself is really just a programing language. Over the years, people have created many packages with formulas (including financial) that you can use to analyze your data and also create some really interesting graphs and models. Since R is open source and has a great community, packages are always growing and improving. While R doesn't have a great interface, R Studio (also free) provides you with a much more helpful interface.
Things to consider:
There is no doubt that someone proficient in R can conduct more advanced data analysis more efficiently than someone proficient in Excel. However, just like with any tool, it takes practice. For some people who are already proficient in Excel and don't need the additional functionalities, it makes sense to stick with what works. It's really up to you to decide whether making the switch at the moment is worth it.