Why would a geographer need to learn to program? I don't see that the motivation is very different from than that of a historian. To paraphrase from William J. Turkel and Alan MacEachern's The Programming Historian:
We think that at least some [analysts] really will need to learn how to program. Think of it like learning how to cook. You may prefer fresh pasta to boxed macaroni and cheese, but if you don't want to be stuck eating the latter, you have to learn to cook or pay someone else to do it for you. Learning how to program is like learning to cook in another way: it can be a very gradual process. One day you're sitting there eating your macaroni and cheese and you decide to liven it up with a bit of Tabasco, Dijon mustard or Worcestershire sauce. Bingo! Soon you're putting grated cheddar in, too. You discover that the ingredients that you bought for one dish can be remixed to make another. You begin to linger in the spice aisle at the grocery store. People start buying you cookware. You get to the point where you're willing and able to experiment with recipes. Although few people become master chefs, many learn to cook well enough to meet their own needs.
If you don't program, your [business] process will always be at the mercy of those who do.
I've substituted analyst for historian, and business for research. There's nothing like a cooking analogy, is there?