- External integrations with database connectors
- Real time dashboards and reporting features
- Custom pricing
- Data visualizations lacking compared to Tableau
- LookML and platform learning curves
- Awful platform for those with a lackluster web connection
Looker is a web-based data management system built as an analytics and data manipulation layer for massive datasets and universes; it is an exceptional business intelligence tool (BI) that can be integrated with a variety of data warehousing services and database systems with external collaboration tools. However, the tool lacks in a few key areas making it a “tied” competitor with similar platforms like Tableau.
Looker: a powerful analysis dashboard
Looker has one of the most visually stunning and simple-to-learn user interfaces in the game. Obviously, the tool will be challenging for new users (more below); however, for the folks who have a general idea of what they’re doing, it’s like remembering how to ride a bicycle.
With that, Looker is a “winner” in the business intelligence space and has been used in organizations of varying sizes from multiple industries. Because of its reach, Looker offers a loadout of tools that integrate with leading collaboration tools and connections with dozens of data warehouses. Most of these database connectors are linked to popular databases and data warehouses like Amazon’s family of databases (Redshift, RDS, Neptune Elasticache, etc.), Oracle, MariaDB, MySQL, and others.
Components of the looker platform that we took issue fit in two main areas. First, it should be noted that LookML, the tool’s proprietary data modeling language, is simple to learn. However, LookML fails to deliver when it can be complicated to manipulate while being costly due to the maintenance cost of ever-changing data models. Plus, your data logic models are limited because summarization of the logic is limited to whether or not the model is inputted to LookML.
Second, Looker–as we’ve seen with similar platforms–is riddled with frustration when it comes to new users. This is especially the case for new users who’ve never used an expansive business intelligence tool. Looker has a fully-packed knowledge base and a dedicated support email. But, these issues are only resolved through extensive use and practice. Looker also has some minor technical quirks that could deteriorate user experience. For example, spotty internet connections could render the web-based tool ultimately useless.
Tableau has better (and more) visualizations
Users seem to be most frustrated with Looker’s library of stock visualizations and the manipulation of such media. Whether its static graphs or a real-time representation of specific metrics, Looker offers powerful visualizations (this is the case, especially, when data is sourced from Microsoft Azure SQL or Amazon Redshift, etc.), but the variety of visualizations is limited.
In turn, Tableau is considered light-years ahead of Looker when it comes to their business intelligence visualizations. Unlike Looker, Tableau can visualize more datasets with more stock visualizations in their library and customization features. For example, in Tableau, you can color-code specific datasets to display revenue growth, whereas Looker fails to add advanced customization due to a rigid conditional formatting feature.
If you are interested in deploying Looker, the pricing will be dependent on the services that you wish to employ to accomplish this goal. According to the pricing page, the company prefers to price their services with a customized approach.
Based on a variety of factors, such as the total number of users, database connections, and scale of deployment, Looker is a fully customized solution for organizations of all size. Whether or not you run a data or business intelligence program for a small organization or a sizeable transnational enterprise, the full use of the platform is available based on the custom components to your plan.
Tableau, in comparison, maintains a fixed, per user per month pricing structure for the various product offering they have. These per-user prices start at $35 per user at the most basic plan to $70 per user at the most advanced plan.
There’s a reason why Looker is one of the most popular business intelligence and data management tools currently available on the market. From its external integrations with a broad suite of data sources and collaboration tools to its business intelligence analytics, your organization will get more than just a granular view of the most ancillary metrics.
On the other hand, Looker is missing powerful customizations for data visualizations, and poor connections can make it unusable. Overall, we recommend Looker if these aren’t pressing concerns.
If you have any feedback on this review or you would like to suggest an app for us to review, please drop us a note – firstname.lastname@example.org.