From the keynote at its "Join" customer conference in San Francisco today, BI/data visualization darling Looker is announcing version 6 of its product. This new release brings with it a combination of feature enhancements, vertical market-specific applications, improvements in embedded analytics scenarios and connectivity to other platforms via Looker's Action Hub.
A explained to me by Looker's Chief Data Evangelist, Daniel Mintz, Looker 6's big three foci are platform, ownership and experience. As marketing-heavy as that may sound, it's a reasonable taxonomy for analyzing what's new in the product.
On the platform side, Looker has gained connectivity to MongoDB, data validator (unit testing) capabilities, field-level permissions and remote project import (the ability to import assets from another project). Extra customization capabilities are coming to Looker's embedded analytics capabilities, including customization of fonts and colors, and even the ability to skin Looker assets differently for different customers.
SOC2 certification and a revamped encryption key management system address enterprise security concerns, and language localization is coming to Looker (for both the product and its models) starting with German, French and Japanese.
The ownership areas is a bit more modest than the other two areas. This area includes improvements in telemetry analytics on the use of Looker itself. It also includes improved support, through chat, community, documentation and hardcore service level agreement-based human support.
Experience As for product interface experience, Looker is adding Action Hub connectivity to Box, DropBox, Google Drive, Google Ads (f.k.a. Adwords), and private channels in Slack. Custom fields - essentially, calculated columns that are not embedded into the data model itself - are being added to Looker, as are scheduler improvements, and enhancements in default visualizations are determined and how recommended data sets are determined.
There's an app for that
Finally, but hardly insignificantly, Looker has decided to embark on a journey to provide custom vertical applications built on the Looker platform itself. Initially, there will be two application offerings: Digital Marketing Analytics (a screenshot of which appears below) and Web Analytics (based on Google Analytics 360).
These applications take the concept of Looker "Blocks," which act as accelerators for domain-specific implementations of Looker, a step further, by offering fully functional and supported applications. These apps are functional out of the box, but are nonetheless built from LookML code and custom visualizations. As such, even though they function out of the box on a standalone basis, they are customizeable by Looker partners and (sophisticated) customers.
Looker's Mintz explained to me that his company is establishing a program called "Looker for Good" that is giving away 1% of product to non-profits (i.e. for every 100 licenses sold, one will be donated) and providing them with free services to boot. Looker is also establishing $10,000 pricing for small non-profits and 40% discount for all non-profit licensees. The company is also making the product for educators to use with their students.
On the for-profit side, Looker's customer count is now north of 1600 and it has raised over $177M in funding. The company's employee count is over 600 and it expects 8 or 10 of them to be in its new Tokyo office by year-end.
The self-service BI space is pretty darned crowded, but Looker has done well in forging its way through the hostile landscape.
This post was updated on October 12, 2018 at 6:41pm Eastern Time. The original post stated that Looker would donate 1% or its profits to charity. In fact, it is donating 1% of its product to charity: for every 100 licenses sold, one will be donated.