Industry Insights

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SAS vs. R 2015: The Deeper Dive

June 1, 2015
The results of our 2018 SAS, R, or Python survey have been released! Click here to see our latest analysis.
SAS vs R debate JPG

As some of you may know, last month we conducted a flash survey of our network of analytics professionals and data scientists to try to quantify their preference for either SAS or R. After we released the initial results, as well as a quick run-down of how emotive respondents were in their responses and some of the humorous comments that we received, we decided to dig in a bit deeper and see if we could spot any changes in SAS vs. R preferences compared to our survey results from last year.This deeper dive analysis for our 2015 sample shows some interesting trends:

Clustered Region

Comparing 2015’s results to 2014’s, there is an increase in the preference of R in all regions. R is now favored over SAS in both the West Coast (like last year) and the Northeast, while SAS still holds the majority of votes in the Mountain, Midwest, and Southeast regions.


Last year, when assessing preferences by industry, R only held the majority in Tech/Telecom/Gaming companies. This year, R is favored in Tech/Telecom again, as well as Academia, Consulting, Healthcare/Pharmaceuticals, and Marketing Services companies. SAS and R are preferred equally in Government and Corporate/Other. SAS continues to have a strong presence among those working in Financial Services and Retail/Consumer Packaged Goods companies. To see 2014 SAS vs. R preferences by industry please see our deeper dive analysis from last year.

Clustered Education

It seems that SAS is still the preferred tool for many professionals who hold Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees, but those with PhD’s favored R over SAS. By comparison, last year, R was not quite even with SAS for PhD respondents.

Clustered Experience

Similar to last year’s results, respondents with 5 or less years of experience were the most likely to favor R. However, the percentage of respondents that preferred R increased for both 6-15 years of experience and 16+ years of experience as well. For example, last year 29.7% of those with 6-15 years’ experience preferred R, vs. 40.2% this year.

DS vs Analytics

This year, we also separated data scientists from other predictive analytics professionals (PAPs). Although they accounted for only 13% of the sample, data scientists overwhelmingly favor R over SAS, while overall, other predictive analytics professionals prefer SAS.The conversation (or debate) around SAS vs. R has always been lively, but has become especially spirited over the past few years with the increased attention to Big Data, data science, and the increase in the number of tools that data experts have to manage and analyze data. It will be very interesting to see how these trends evolve over the next year, and I look forward to reading all of your comments and insights in the comments below.Thanks to everyone who participated in our flash survey, and keep your eyes on your inbox for more opportunities to participate!