Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

Looker Looks to a New Future with Google

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 13, 2019 7:00:00 AM

We are happy to offer some insights on Looker drawn from our latest Value Index research, which assesses how well vendors’ offerings meet buyers’ requirements. Earlier this year we published the Ventana Research Value Index: Analytics and Business Intelligence 2019, the Ventana_Research-Analytics_and_BI-Value_Index-Generic-5distillation of a year of market and product research efforts. We then developed three additional Value Indexes on Analytics and BI focusing on mobile, embedded and collaborative capabilities. Because each is a critical aspect of modern business intelligence, we developed specific criteria for each in order to provide an in-depth look at features geared specifically to mobile, embedded and collaborative use.

In all of our Value Indexes we utilize a structured research methodology that includes evaluation categories designed to reflect real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal (RFP) and vendor selection process for analytics and business intelligence. We evaluated Looker and 14 other vendors in seven categories, five relevant to the product (adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two related to the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each category to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on our experience and on data derived from our benchmark research on analytics and business intelligence.

Looker distinguishes itself based on its modeling language, LookML. While the language is flexible and makes the product very extensible, this Value Index’s evaluation criteria favor products that rely more on graphical interfaces to deliver data modeling and analytic functionality as it makes these critical capabilities easier to use. The Looker product is available as a public cloud service but can also be installed and configured on-premises. Its architecture is based on a model of accessing data in-place in a variety of relational databases. The presentation components of the product offer a clean modern user interface. The product also includes an integrated development environment for creating LookML and analytic applications.

Looker’s strengths are in Manageability, Validation and Reliability. It ranks sixth in Manageability, offering strong support for administration by both business and IT personnel. It also offers a flexible architecture and configuration, ranking seventh in Reliability. The company also offers good case study material and references to validate the value of its products.

Broader functionality would help improve the Looker product’s Capability score, where it ranks last. The criteria in this category include evaluations of various types of advanced analytics — predictive analytics, planning and optimization as well as collaborative decision-making — that Looker either lacks or where it relies heavily on third party integrations. As Looker adds more of these capabilities its Value IndexVentana_Research_Value_Index_Analytics&BI_2019_COMBINED_Looker showing can improve. Less reliance on LookML or providing a graphical alternative would also improve its last-place score in Usability.


Looker is entirely browser-based and built so that it automatically adapts to different screen form factors and takes advantage of mobile gestures such as pinch, zoom, tap and more. It also means that Looker doesn't require a separate authoring process for mobile. However, it also means the mobile experience lacks some of the features that users might expect from a native mobile application such as push notifications or finding the application in the application store.

Overall, Looker ranks 15th in this Value Index. More mobile-specific functionality would help improve the Looker product’s Capability score, where it also ranks last. The criteria in this category include evaluations of various types of mobile analytics and interaction such as collaborative decision-making. It also includes location awareness, swiping to navigate through views and dimensions and offline interactions.


The Looker product is available as a public cloud service but can also be installed and configured on-premises. Its architecture is based on a model of accessing data in place in a variety of relational databases. Looker is entirely browser-based and relies heavily on its LookML language, both of which can be beneficial in embedded usage. Overall, Looker ranks 15th in this Value Index.


Looker ranks 14th overall in both this Value Index assessment and the Capability category. The vendor’s product does not provide strong collaboration capabilities in many of the subcategories we evaluated, particularly in facilitating any type of discussion groups, coordination or interaction among individuals involved in analytic processes. It does have strengths in sharing documents among participants in analytic processes and providing those documents in a variety of formats. Looker also has good capabilities for delivering those documents via customized schedules and can personalize information and analyses.

Collaborative analytics and BI is about more than just social-media-style wall postings. Looker would improve its collaboration scores by supporting better collaboration among line of business personnel, with more styles of analytics such as scorecarding and strategy management capabilities. These important features help facilitate communication of an organization’s progress toward its goals and strategy.

This assessment was based on Looker Version 5.8. Since our analysis was completed Looker has released Versions 6.0 and 6.2. The new versions provide enhanced visualizations, support for time intervals in dimensions and connectivity to MongoDB among other enhancements. Looker was recently acquired by Google to help advance its depth in the Google Compute Cloud and we expect that additional resources will deepen its offering.

This research-based index is the most comprehensive assessment of the value of analytics and business intelligence software in the industry. Technology buyers can learn more about how to use our Value Index by clicking here and included vendors that wish to learn more can click here. Read the report here.


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Topics: Data Science, Mobile, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Digital Technology

Ventana Research

Written by Ventana Research

Ventana Research is the most authoritative and respected market research and advisory services firm focused on both business and technology. Since our beginning, our goal has been to provide insight and expert guidance on mainstream and disruptive technologies. In short, we want to help you become smarter and find the most relevant technology for your organization.