Looker Review

Non-technical people without significant SQL experience use it to explore data.

What is most valuable?

We're able to surface data very quickly and easily. Once Looker is connected to your database, it's very easy to produce reports, dashboards, charts, etc., that expose the data. The tool makes it easy for non-technical people to explore data in ways that would not have been possible before without significant SQL experience. Now, literally anybody can do it.

How has it helped my organization?

It's now very easy for non-technical users to "self-serve" and produce the information and gain the insight they need. For example, account managers often deal with customers who have unique needs. These AMs are able to quickly produce individualized "Looks" or dashboards, save them, and send them to internal users along with customers. Of course, we can produce a variety of "standard" reports and dashboards, but giving people close to the business access to what they need without involving data engineers or analysts is a huge time-saver and convenience.

What needs improvement?

Some of the visualizations are a bit limited on how much you can customize them. That said, Looker pushes frequent releases, and they typically contain improvements to visualization options.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using Looker for a little more than two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We've never (that I recall) had any significant Looker stability issues. It's always up when we need it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We're not a huge organization, but we've not had any trouble here. We have around 300 users, and around 100 unique users per day (peak), and that's never been a problem.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is one of my favorite things about Looker. They are always very helpful when we have technical questions. Typically, I hate "chat support", but it's really good with Looker. The people who help are always very knowledgeable and if they don't know an answer right away, they are able to find it quickly.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We've previously used at least two other solutions. Looker was better for several reasons. Number one, it makes it easy for 'non-techie' people to do "techie" things. LookML is powerful and intuitive. Looks and dashboards are easy to complete on the fly even if you don't use LookML. Number two, we really like the API stuff and the ability to use "Looker data" in other apps lends itself to solving the "one-source-of-the-truth" puzzle BI folks often face. Number three, their support is fantastic. It was pretty useless with others, and is really great with Looker.

How was the initial setup?

I can't speak to the entire initial setup, but once Looker is connected to the DW, it's extremely easy to get Looks and dashboards built. And, from what I understand, connecting it to the DW is very straightforward – but another engineer handles that.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Depending on what you want to do with Looker, you might see some price barriers. For example, embedding "reporting" in a customer portal might sound great and, depending on the customer, $50 per month might be very reasonable. But, if you have numerous "small" customers, that price point does not scale well.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before choosing this product, I evaluated Domo, Pentaho, Jaspersoft, Birst, Tableau, and a few others too.

What other advice do I have?

It's easy to build too much too fast. What I mean by that is that it's really easy to "build stuff" in Looker. If I had it to do over again, I might take a more measured approach to determine exactly what I build, and document it better. Looker opens up the data world to a lot of new people, and it's so easy to spin up a quick dashboard, it's easy to forget what you've done (or somebody else did) six months down the road. Also, make sure you truly understand all your data. Once you open it up, people will use it. Sometimes, users make assumptions about the data that might not be true.

We LOVE Looker here at Snagajob. No single solution checks all the boxes on any BI team's wish-list, but Looker comes very close. The product itself is great, and meets nearly all our needs. The support is fantastic, and the user community is very collaborative and eager to give advice within the Discourse forum (the Looker user forum).

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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author avatarPeter Birksmith
Top 5Real User

We use Tableau for the exact same reason that you have described however, we built it with an operational lense and therefore put processes in place to stop a flood of rubbish from flowing into the Production Portal.
When implementing a solution that will cross over an entire organisation, it's best to step back and develop a process before releasing to the general populous even if you are pressured by the vendor and business because it will save you a lot of pain in the future.