The business intelligence software product known as Looker is getting a lot of attention from various sources. As the field of business intelligence and Big Data explodes, companies are looking for ways to represent the raw data that, for many of them, has become their most valuable asset. Getting actionable insights out of data can help a business excel by understanding their customers and even their own business better.
BI vendors are offering many diverse ways to help companies achieve these goals. Within this complex landscape, Looker is standing out as a data analytics platform and business intelligence tool that helps businesses assess things like lifetime customer value and conversion rate in a transparent way, and to connect the dots between relationships for various kinds of business data.
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Using Database Technology
As experts point out, Looker is not a storage facility. It doesn’t provide a hyper-converged platform where storage and network and compute modules are unified. But Looker’s business intelligence software does attach to a database to show the data from SQL in dashboards and other relatable ways.
One way to think about the use of Looker is that the “semantic models” are connected to physical data models. In fact, when asked about the most important utility of the Looker platform, business analysts cite its data modeling power.
For example, in this response thread on Quora, multiple professionals talk about Looker’s data modeling layer and how it presents raw data in a digestible way. Looker customers can create data models on the fly, or use available tools to build these user-friendly models. CEO & Founder of Fishtown Analytics Tristan Handy calls the combination of data modeling and reporting the “Holy Grail” of business intelligence and analytical processing.
Data Visualization for the Masses
Another major component of the process is data visualization. The raw data that is taken from SQL and analyzed needs to be shown in a way that business users can read. Think about trying to read an Excel spreadsheet. For all but the most left-brained analytical users, that’s not an easy task. Even the smartest people have trouble digesting raw data in a spreadsheet without some sort of visualizing intelligence software.
To this end, Looker provides data visualization features, channeling numbers into chart and graph views in various dashboards. However, it also hooks up with products from companies like Google and Amazon Web Services.
As for the general place of Looker within the business intelligence field, again, the main value of data modeling stands out. Numerous vendor tools and applications parse and store data in particular ways, but Looker is seen as a leader in the process of taking in the raw data and refining it in effective ways. The company advertises the product this way, saying that with “reliable trustworthy answers — analysts are no longer a bottleneck” and that “everyone can answer their own questions and make more data-driven decisions.”
This free flow of information and insight is at the core of what Looker offers businesses.
Tableau for BI
Another tool for business intelligence that’s getting a lot of attention is Tableau. A large part of the appeal of this BI resource is a strong “visualization front end” that provides visibility to logs and other kinds of data that would otherwise remain inscrutable in the background. The self-service business intelligence component that Tableau brings to the table is also important. Business users are clamoring for their own self-serve analytic tool that can get rid of gatekeepers in research processes.
Tableau offers both on-premise and cloud deployments for their platform. Tableau Server and Tableau Desktop are available on-premise, whereas Tableau Online is their cloud option. No matter how they’re deployed, however, all three tools bring versatility to analytics and data governance. This versatility, in addition to the strength of the platform’s dashboards and reporting capabilities, provides a way to generate key insights quickly and from various vantage points within a business structure.
Other BI Tools
Looker and Tableau are far from the only choices for effective use of business intelligence.
A Sisense package provides its own data visualization tool. The porting of data from SQL feeds insights, while API strategies promote integration and a user-friendly interface.
Microsoft Power BI is another player in the self-service business intelligence space: one with a big name. Dynamics-related MS tools are also front and center in many corporate searches for effective BI generation and use.
Qlik, similarly to Tableau, offers different versions of its BI and data visualization tool. With products such as Qlikview and Qlik Sense, Qlik has no shortage of powerful tools.
This list is, as you can imagine, only scratching the surface of BI vendors. Compare Looker vs Tableau and other BI tools and see what each one can do for your business in this age of Big Data, digital analytics and reporting.