Learning the Language of 'R'

As a company focused on winning over the hearts and minds of consumers by inventing creative new ways for brands to connect their solutions to the people who would most find them of value, you might wonder why a room full of people here at McCann Minneapolis have gathered together early on a Thursday morning to learn how to write code.


“Everyone that works with data should learn to use a code language. Data is increasingly becoming the language of businesses.”, says Sam Krutzfeldt, analytics strategist at the agency. Sam has begun a weekly study group with 15 steady attendees from a variety of disciplines within the agency including management, strategy, web design, and investments, who are learning to code in ‘R’, the coding language for data analytics.


“R is (arguably) the most popular language of data scientists. Because it is open source, it means that the wheel doesn’t need to be reinvented every time that a project is started. It can be scheduled, hooked up to data sources, and automate a lot of work.”, Sam explains.


At the beginning of each week, Sam sends a challenge to the study group and at the end of each week, the group convenes in person to discuss potential solves.  But the reason these students are committed to learning to code in R goes beyond the practical business solutions the coding promises.


Studies and thought leaders argue that learning computer programming languages like R create better problem solvers and stimulates curiosity: https://www.inc.com/howard-tullman/the-real-benefits-of-coding.html, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/feb/07/year-of-code-dan-crow-songkick, http://articles.latimes.com/2014/apr/07/news/la-ol-teach-students-code-computer-science-20140406.


In a business environment that values creative solutions powered by the human stories embedded in data to help develop a deep, empathetic understanding of consumers’ needs, the gap between data and creativity is quickly narrowing. “That’s the way that all business is flowing right now, Sam counsels, “Ad agencies are no different.”