Robust and speedy BI tool for companies with internal data science and ETL resources to bring out its full potential.
August 18, 2015

Robust and speedy BI tool for companies with internal data science and ETL resources to bring out its full potential.

Michael Shostack | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with Looker

We use Looker across our entire organization. It helps us understand what happens across the many facets of our business from support to marketing to product interaction.
  • Blazingly fast for most queries as it sits on top of our Redshift instance.
  • The ability to create user-defined filter presets through "Listeners" on dashboards that can be adjusted by the end user is really nice for making the product more accessible to non-technical business users.
  • The interface is very fast, limited only by the complexity of the data/dimensions we're trying to work with.
  • Support is AMAZING. Our live chat support team are always super friendly and go above and beyond to help us. I even had their CTO Lloyd respond to me once.
  • Looker has come a long way in the brief time I've used it. However it is still challenging for non-technical business users to pick up and use, even with training. Dashboards are much more accessible once configured by a knowledgeable user, but the root of the issue is that our underlying data is complex and nuanced, and requires an internal technical resource who can own the data to properly inform and guide on the appropriate dimensions to use.
  • Integrating Snowplow Analytics (Looker's recommended web analytics solution) has been a headache, despite how powerful the data is once it is working. But don't expect it to be a replacement for off-the-shelf web analytics tools like Google Analytics as Looker doesn't really have any of those reports "out of the box" since you need to model it all out yourself. It is nowhere near as intuitive to explore web data with Looker as it is with Google Analytics.
  • The biggest challenge Looker highlighted for us was the issues with our own data and ETL. Not so much their fault, but at the end of the day, the data issues have made leveraging Looker to its full potential difficult. Having a dedicated Data Science and ETL engineer is pretty much necessary if your data has even minor complexity.
  • RJMetrics,Domo,Mixpanel,KISSmetrics
I considered Looker along with RJ Metrics and Domo. The other platforms seemed to be offering much more of a service-focused offering, with fees that would likely scale quite high without certainty. Looker is focused on more of a product-driven approach and would be a good fit for companies with the data/analytics resources in-house to handle the ETL, integration, and ongoing management.

If you don't really have those resources in-house, a solution like RJ Metrics, which provides a team of analysts to help manage your data and build out the actual models for you might be a better solution.

At the other end of the spectrum of tools are things like Mixpanel and Kissmetrics. Both charge based on events, and frankly weren't robust enough for our needs with Looker in terms of how we wanted to leverage our data. Those solutions might be a better fit for companies without other web analytics solutions and who need something a bit better tooled out of the box for answering standard business questions.

Hard to rate this as I'm not as close to the data hookup side of things.
Each Look has a permalink that is shareable, and all of the report details are visible in the query string. This is both a good and bad thing. You can generate a shortened URL by hitting cmd-U (on Macs) on a Look which helps tame really long filters. However the other issue is that if you filter off say, user email addresses or other sensitive information, and then accidentally paste that link somewhere you shouldn't, that data is now out in the wild even if they can't access the actual Look without logging in.

Beyond that, one thing Domo did much better was collaboration. You could easily comment on data and annotate it, and annotations are a huge missing feature in my opinion. If we have issues with our data for a certain period of time, or need to highlight a certain date with a note, there is currently no way to do that natively with Looker chart visuals outside of a general comment in the box of the chart object in the dashboard, or in the Look description. There's also no way to do things like set general annotations/alerts that appear on all reports using a given chunk of data from a given timeframe. If I know data was broken for a certain period, I want to flag that somewhere so it becomes visible to anyone who generates a Look using data from that period.

I'd also love for there to be an option to create and store a report snapshot at a preset date (such as 90 days after a promotion ends) where it automatically emails me a PDF or ideally a link to a static Look of things up to that point since data can change over time. Right now the only way to do it is either schedule reports (that run indefinitely, so less than ideal), or make a note to pull a PDF at a given date and save that to Google Drive or something.

Make sure you understand the data work required to make Looker shine. It is incredibly powerful, but ultimately only as useful as your data. Be prepared for an integration that likely will be ongoing forever as you add new tables, new dimensions, etc. This added perpetual resource cost is important to consider when looking at pricing as it has a decent chance of being more expensive than Looker itself. That said, Looker is a tool that enables teams to leverage their data, and we've found that data to be worth its weight in gold, so the value proposition was definitely a net positive.

Looker Feature Ratings

Pixel Perfect reports
Customizable dashboards
Report Formatting Templates
Drill-down analysis
Formatting capabilities
Integration with R or other statistical packages
Not Rated
Report sharing and collaboration
Publish to Web
Not Rated
Publish to PDF
Report Delivery Scheduling
Pre-built visualization formats (heatmaps, scatter plots etc.)
Location Analytics / Geographic Visualization
Multi-User Support (named login)
Role-Based Security Model
Multiple Access Permission Levels (Create, Read, Delete)
Responsive Design for Web Access
Dashboard / Report / Visualization Interactivity on Mobile