Looker was founded in 2012 in Santa Cruz, CA, and has continuously grown since then. The vendor already had about 200 employees in 2015 and now employs over 800 people across eight locations. With the opening of the UK office in 2015, Looker started to grow its business in Europe. 1,800 customers are already using its product. In 2020, Looker became part of the Google Cloud portfolio.
Looker is a web-based platform dedicated to providing a managed, standardized and trusted view of business data. This consistency can be achieved by using a data description language (LookML) to create a metadata layer on the required data source. Looker is particularly powerful in embedding solutions and creating interactive visualization files and dashboard applications. In addition, the product also provides functions for business users, who can use the LookML metadata layer to query different data sources.
Looker began to develop its products in 2012 and has focused on providing end users with self-service functions and the ability to perform ad hoc analysis. The company believes that the lack of row-level detail in traditional BI is a symptom of aggregation and is preventing business users from fully participating in data and analysis. Therefore, Looker is highly dependent on the central and virtual metadata layer created using its proprietary data description language LookML (an abstraction layer above SQL). Business users connect to data through this virtual layer, which allows them to perform temporary analysis through a click interface.
Over the years, Looker has worked with a number of technology and consulting partners. In general, Looker is quite serious about its partner strategy, which has improved over time. The vendor’s partner network has seen strong growth in the last few years. Most of its consulting partners are based in the United States but work is being done to identify partners in Europe in order to boost growth in this region. Looker does not target any specific customer profile. The product was designed to support scalable scenarios with the ambition to grow in those.
Since the acquisition of Looker by Google, both companies have been clear about the continued multi-cloud strategy. Looker (and Google) are dedicated to supporting Looker customers and keeping the Looker agenda. Its priority remains the optimization of a user’s interaction with data in a true self-service fashion.
User & Use Cases
Although Looker’s focus is on visualization, it is used in quite a broad range of scenarios. All the customers responding to this year’s survey display data using dashboards, 97 percent use its ad hoc query capabilities and 94 percent create enterprise reports. Interestingly, 55 percent plan to use Looker in budgeting/planning scenarios. The software does not provide budgeting features. However, because customers use Looker for enterprise reporting, they want to access budget figures in order to see a comparison between actual, budget and forecast values to be able to manage their business.
Looker is mostly used in mid-sized companies of 100 to 2500 employees. The software is deployed more widely throughout these companies (36 percent of employees) than its competitors (18 percent on average). A mean number of 183 people per customer use the software, with the median only slightly higher at 187 users. This is way above the median of 50 users for all products in The BI Survey 19. Such a high adoption rate indicates that customers might also be using Looker in operational scenarios.
Current vs. planned use
5 products most often evaluated in competition with Looker
Percentage of employees using Looker
Number of users using Looker
Tasks carried out with Looker by business users
Company size (number of employees)
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