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Looker Aims To Operationalize Analytical Insights With New Software Release

Looker 7 offers new capabilities, functionality to go beyond traditional business intelligence to provide data to everyday applications and workflows.

Looker Data Sciences has debuted a new release of its business analytics platform, offering new features and enhancements that the company says integrates analytical insights and “data experiences” with day-to-day tools and workflows.

The company, which is holding its Join 2019 customer conference in San Francisco this week, is also launching an online marketplace that offers applications, plug-ins, templates, data sources and custom visualizations created by Looker’s developer ecosystem.

The news also comes as Looker is in the process of being acquired by Google for $2.6 billion. Google intends to add Looker’s business intelligence software, including its sales and marketing analytical applications, to the Google Cloud Platform software lineup.

[Related: 5 Things To Know About Google’s Acquisition Of Looker Data Sciences]

“We want to bring data and analytics to where people are and close the gap between insight and action,” said Pedro Arellano, Looker product marketing vice president, in an interview with CRN. “Companies realize there is a lot of value in how they use data beyond reports and dashboards.”

One of the over-arching trends in business analytics is businesses and organizations are trying to speed up how analytic results and insights generated by tools like Looker are disseminated throughout an organization and integrated with business processes.

To meet those demands, Looker has been evolving from a user-focused business intelligence application to a more complete platform, said Nick Fogler, founder and CEO of 4 Mile Analytics, a Santa Cruz, Calif.-based solution provider that provides implementation and professional services around the Looker software.

“What Looker 7 brings is a more holistic, more robust way to access the core capabilities of Looker and to improve the value proposition for customers,” Fogler said in an interview with CRN.

Businesses “are moving up that chain of analytic maturity,” Fogler said. “It just becomes an organic part of the workflow. Delivering actionable data to people where they are is the next wave of analytics.”

Looker – and its future Google parent – are also promising to maintain a multi-cloud strategy for the Looker software. “Both Google and Looker are committed to multi-cloud. There is no intention to change that,” Arellano said, noting the software’s ability to work with the Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.

Arellano said the new release makes it easier to apply analytical insights and curated, transformed data from Looker to other applications. Looker 7 offers closed-loop integration with the Slack collaboration application, delivering data insights into Slack conversations and projects. Users also can use a new analytical alert feature to be notified through Slack, email and other systems of important changes in their data.

The software also provides third-party integrations for Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, Auger.ai, mParticle and Matik.

Those integrations create opportunities for partners to sell Looker-based solutions beyond business analytics operations to include line-of-business operations such as finance managers and supply chain managers.

Looker 7 sports improved dashboards with enhanced user interfaces for greater self-service and interactivity, more customization settings and more data filtering options. And the platform has new SQL runner visualizations that display raw SQL queries in charts and graphs.

Of special interest to solution providers and development partners is Looker 7’s new development framework and pre-built components for building what the vendor calls “data experiences” – including charts and graphs within Looker and add-on products that work with the business analytics platform.

Also new is a suite of developer tools, including a portal that provides a central hub for developer resources and a software developer kit (SDK) to make Looker’s APIs easier for developers to use in the programming languages they prefer.

And the new online marketplace will create a space where users and third-party companies – including ISVs and other channel partners – can publish add-on applications, content and other software for the Looker platform.

“We really want to grow and nurture a community of builders on Looker,” Arellano said.

Looker 7 is better able to work in larger enterprise environments with support for a greater range of data sources and improved ways to bring data into the business analytics system, according to the company. And the new Looker edition has improved security and new system activity analytics to assist system administrators.

The new release creates more service opportunities for partners like 4 Mile Analytics by making it easier to work with larger deployments within bigger companies, deal with data complexity, and develop solutions for strategic use cases, said Fogler.

"As Looker builds out its developer tools and marketplace, we're constantly reminded of their commitment to the success of partners like us," said Shailesh Mallya, CTO of Acrotrend, a customer analytics consulting firm in London, U.K., in a statement.

Mallya said that during a Looker hackathon in London, his team built “a simple and innovative natural language processing search add-on to make Looker's out-of-the-box data experiences even more approachable to non-data people.” He said Acrotrend is in the process of building a more robust version that the company will deploy in the new Looker Marketplace.

“The ability for a technology consulting company like us to distribute our technology to Looker's large and growing customer base is a really important business opportunity that will have a tremendous impact on our bottom line,” Mallya said.

Looker 7 will begin rolling out in the next month, according to the company, with all features due to be available by the end of the first quarter of 2020.

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