Google Cloud has unified all its business intelligence (BI) products under a single banner: Looker.
Founded in 2011 as an independent company, Looker is a leading BI platform that Google Cloud acquired in 2020 for an eye-watering $2.6 billion.
Ever since Google has invested heavily in integrating Looker with other capabilities in its cloud stack. Now, it is ready to connect all Google Cloud solutions and front up its data and analytics strategy.
Speaking at Google Next, Kate Wright, Product & Engineering Exec, BI & Analytics at Google, said:
Looker has a genuinely unique opportunity to borrow and leverage data from hundreds of Google’s best-in-class products… and this is only the beginning.
In line with this, the following visual highlights all the Google entities with which Looker has become – or started to become – integrated.
As such, Looker has become a central cog in Google’s aim to “organize the world’s information and make it useful.” This is its vision for the new era of business intelligence.
In doing so, Looker has swallowed up Google Data Studio. Yet, this is only the tip of the iceberg.
What Did Google Announce?
Alongside a new vision for Looker as a central hub for its data and analytics offerings, Google announced additional capabilities for its newly named Looker Studio.
These include the ability to blend ad hoc data sources and Looker data within a modeling layer – bringing new insights to the fore.
For larger enterprises, Google also launched Looker Studio Pro, which includes new collaboration and enterprise management features. As such, Google streamlines data sharing and facilitates more self-service BI workflows.
Moreover, Google plans to integrate Looker Studio Pro with Dataplex – its “intelligent data fabric” – to surface more metadata and add context to business insights.
Yet, perhaps most eye-catching announcement is the launch of “Looker (Google Cloud core)”.
Not only is it eye-catching because of its – to be frank – strange name, but it is built entirely on Google Cloud infrastructure. As such, it is available as a Google Cloud service, which users can harness on the Cloud Console.
As a result, it deeply integrates with Google’s acclaimed security and management services.
Google also announced plans to develop new visualization tools for Looker Studio – supposedly similar to those that market leaders Microsoft and Salesforce offer.
Meanwhile, Looker Studio users can also expect the imminent release of a Google Sheets integration.
A New Vision for Business Intelligence
Coinciding with its Looker announcements, Google presented its vision for the future of BI. It breaks this down into three pillars.
“We stepped back and considered what is required for success in business intelligence,” said Wright. “The result was these three pillars: a trusted platform, informed decisions, and data experiences.”
First, consider this “trusted platform” pillar. Data needs to be reliable enough to instill confidence in data-driven decisioning. Consistent, up-to-date metrics are central here, as is the ability to govern access to insights while ensuring security and compliance.
Second, is “informed decisions.” This is critical as connecting the right people with the correct information is a significant facet of BI. Self-service workflows, crafted for non-technical people, enable this alongside intelligent operational workflows.
Yet, it is also critical to proactively serve up data so it is available when and where someone needs it – whether that is a customer or employee. “Data experiences” is about changing how people access and work with data at scale.
The development of Looker will stem from this three-pillar vision.
Google’s Place in the BI Space
Looker has many differentiators as a BI solution. These include its in-database architecture, developer portal, and the innovation opportunities it offers within the Google Cloud ecosystem.
However, Gartner suggests it falls behind the likes of Microsoft and Salesforce in its global presence. These latest moves will likely put an end to this issue. After all, now it is unifying with Google Data Studio, the Looker name will gain significant momentum.
This momentum comes at a time when many are migrating to cloud data and analytics ecosystems. Consequently, Google may disrupt market leaders and reap the rewards of growing interest in BI.
Greater accessibility to insights through low-code or no-code automation workflows is helping drive such interest, as are new predictive capabilities. These may also pose a challenge to data science and ML platform providers.
Luckily for Google, it is a big player in the latter, and by further integrating its ML capabilities with Looker, the possibilities for future innovation are exciting.
At its Next event, Google also launched its new CCaaS platform. Find out more by reading our article: The Google Contact Center AI Platform Is Now Generally Available