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Looker 7 Upgrades Include Deeper Google Integrations

‘We are leveraging the fact that we‘re now part of Google, and we can work on some really cool joint projects with the Google teams,’ says Pedro Arellano, head of product marketing at Looker. ‘We’re basically taking Looker capabilities, joining them with some of the Google Cloud capabilities, but at the same time, we’re also investing in the core product.’

New data analytics features unveiled by Looker today include support for the complete Google Marketing Platform, upgrades for application builders and the general availability of the Looker Marketplace.

The business intelligence (BI) and analytics platform upgrades, which come with deeper integration with Google Cloud, are Looker’s first product announcements since Google closed its $2.6 billion acquisition of the Santa Cruz, Calif.-based startup in February.

“We are leveraging the fact that we‘re now part of Google, and we can work on some really cool joint projects with the Google teams,” said Pedro Arellano, head of product marketing at Looker (pictured above). “We’re basically taking Looker capabilities, joining them with some of the Google Cloud capabilities, but at the same time, we’re also investing in the core product.”

The enhancements are designed to make it easier for companies to maximize data infrastructure investments, more quickly obtain business insights from their data, and build, install and share data applications.

“They are an extension of our vision that we announced in November, when we announced Looker 7,” Arellano said, referring to Looker’s next-generation, enterprise-grade data platform. “It was really all about helping companies transcend sort of the conventional definition of BI. We‘re thinking a lot about where we can take the product, where we can push the platform, so that people can do bigger things with it at greater scale.”

New Looker Blocks

New Looker Blocks focus on marketers. The customizable building blocks -- pre-built pieces of code that can be leveraged for analytics of Google Marketing Platform (GMP) advertising and web data – offer interactive data exploration, new data with light machine learning predictions baked in, links directly back to GMP for campaign adjustments, and activation paths for pushing insights back into GMP.

“Marketers want to understand how the marketing programs that they‘re running are influencing buyer decisions and, in order to do that, it means that you need to view those activities within the larger context of the customer journey,” Arellano said. “This can be a pretty challenging task, because buyer behavior is not always easy to anticipate or to understand, and a large part of that is the problem is because…data is everywhere. It comes from hundreds or thousands of different systems, but the fact is that every incremental insight you can get into customer behavior helps you know that customer better.”

The Looker Blocks, created with Google and available on the Looker Marketplace, include blocks for Google Analytics 360, Campaign Manager + Display & Video 360, Search Ads 360 and Google Ads.

“We‘re giving these marketers out-of-the-box analytics solutions that will help them get up and running really quickly,” Arellano said. “The exciting thing about this is that we’ve done it in a way that’s going to allow marketers to analyze their Google and non-Google data, and that’s really powerful, because you can look at your Google Marketing Platform data in the context of the rest of your business data.”

For the Google Analytics 360 block, for example, Looker built in an advanced analytics model called “propensity to act.”

“Basically, a marketer just needs to pick what particular activity they‘re interested in analyzing -- buying a product, signing up for a newsletter, requesting a demo -- and Looker and BigQuery (Google Cloud’s serverless data warehouse) can predict what a visitor’s likelihood is of performing that action and then take it even further, because we’ve built hooks back into the Google Marketing Platform, because these insights are great to have,” Arellano said.

Cross-filtering is another new BI feature for Looker that allows users to quickly discover new customer insights and patterns by accessing underlying data in Looker dashboards. Customers can “slice any metric on one tile by any dimension surfaced in another with a single click,” according to Looker.

New foundational improvements designed to improve the performance of Looker include aggregate awareness to generate more efficient queries.

“It makes things run faster, and it lowers your infrastructure-consumption costs,” Arellano said. “Aggregate awareness basically tells Looker that there are…aggregate tables within the database that have data at a higher level of detail. These are tables that can generate faster and more efficient queries because instead of analyzing billions of rows of very fine granular data, you‘re going up to aggregates of that data.”

Other improvements are parallel persistent derived table (PDT) builds for customers to increase the number of PDTs that can be built per connection, faster data downloads when streaming query results and the ability to pool connections to reduce the latency of queries.

“Before, you could only build PDTs one at a time, and now you can actually build them in parallel,” Arellano said. “It’s all for optimizing the performance of BigQuery.”

To improve the experience for model developers, Looker has a redesigned integrated development environment that makes workflows intuitive with more advanced controls. Looker also added a new object browser that simplifies product navigation and tracks and reuses available objects, a single repository that’s shareable across instances to share model development, and folders to improve project organization and collaboration.

Looker Marketplace And Data Dictionary

Looker Marketplace -- Looker’s central location for finding, deploying and managing Looker content including Looker Blocks, applications, visualizations and plug-ins -- now is generally available, allowing developers to share custom-built applications.

“Looker is more than a BI tool for people to consume data or analyze data on reports and dashboards,” Arellano said. “Looker really is a platform where people can build data applications, and we‘ve invested a lot in just making it easier, faster and to reduce the effort and complexity for people to build these data applications.”

The new Looker Data Dictionary, which allows developers to build an application using Looker’s extension framework, also is available in the Looker Marketplace. The extension -- a web application built using Looker components -- provides a dedicated, centralized interface for searching through all Looker fields and descriptions.

“If you‘re a data geek, the Data Dictionary is actually really, really useful, because it helps analysts better understand all the fields and the metrics that they need or that they’re using for their analysis (and) visualize the relationships between the data,” Arellano said. “It’s almost like a guide of your entire data model. It’s a very popular request from people that work with data all the time.”

Announced as part of Looker 7, a new development framework also is generally available. The framework lets developers customize data experiences within Looker and embed them in existing enterprise applications and workflows.

Other Looker improvements are targeted at systems administrators, including an elite system activity manager that helps them understand everything that‘s going on with the Looker system, including the most popular queries or reports that are being run and the most active users.

“We‘ve introduced ways for them to manage user roles and permissions a lot easier, a lot faster and just really giving them the ability to manage their content, improve user adoption and audit user data over time,” Arellano said.

What’s Next For Looker

In October, Looker will host its annual user conference, which it’s calling JOIN@Home this year, as a digital event.

It’s preparing another product announcement for the conference: the ability to use Looker on a mobile device.

Looker also will continue to leverage its opportunities with Google.

“There are so many different products and teams that we are working with, that we are planning integrations with,” Arellano said. “We think that‘s going to be really positive for our customers because of all the all the cool tools that we’ll be able to build.”

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