An Overview of Google Looker Studio
Updated: Feb 7
Looker Studio, the name will replace Google Data Studio. This news was announced by Google in Oct 2022. Google called this: the launching of a new era with its business intelligence suite. They aim to go beyond the dashboard and add more features to support data workflows needed to make data-driven decisions.
Table of content
1. What is Looker Studio?
What is it used to be? Google Data Studio is a free business intelligence service that visualises and shares business analytics. Data Studio offers similar features to any other BI tool, such as chart builder, reporting, dashboarding, etc. It can also let users interact with reports and explore them further if the dataset allows enough data depth. It enables workers to connect and visualise data across various databases, including on-premises databases and various cloud-based applications.
What is it Now? Google has unified all its business intelligence tools under the Looker brand. It was announced at Cloud Next 2022 that Data Studio would be called Looker Studio. Google promised a lot of new functionality to Looker Studio, most of which would likely be the migration of data modelling capacity from Looker, its core analytics platform. What is available for public preview at the moment is just the Looker integration. Add a connector and visualise your dataset on Looker inside the Studio interface.
2. Benefits of Looker Studio
With that, Looker Studio offering is the same business intelligence tool with many advantages:
Provide cutting-edge visualisation, and connect securely with your cloud-hosted data, especially with data on Google Cloud.
Have an easy-to-use interface, even for people unfamiliar with data analysis.
Make it simple to create reports when you already have refined business metrics.
Have a good community that provides support when you have issues.
Looker Studio alone is limited in data modelling, but when combined with Looker of Google BigQuery, it can scale accordingly.
3. What is so different with Looker Studio?
Looker Studio is part of Google Marketing suites. It operates as an integrated part of the Google Cloud Platform with many features that set it apart from other well-known analytics tools:
Looker Studio provides seamless integration with Google BigQuery with one click enabling the API inside GCP.
Looker Studio makes it simple to connect & create reports with other Google services: Google Ad, Google Analytics, Adsense, and BigQuery with an hourly refresh, ensuring that the organisation always works with sufficient up-to-date data. Google BigQuery is a pay-per-compute data, and you can set up fresher & shorter data updates.
For Looker Studio Free, team members can work with consolidated sources inside one dashboard. Everyone using the same reporting could become quite messy, so the Pro version adds collaboration capabilities would be an exciting catch.
Applications, third-party solutions and add-ons can be customised to the need of the organisation.
4. Looker Studio pricing
Looker Studio is free of charge for creating and viewing reports. But for more advanced organisations, Google is also launching Looker Studio Pro, which adds enterprise management features, team collaboration tools and SLAs to the standard Google Data Studio/Looker Studio.
With these enterprise features, the pricing would likely be user based, with *rumour* pricing at $7 per user per month, and 1000 users' annual commitment would be charged $6000 monthly.
How is the price look to you?
This is a tricky question. It's cheaper than purchasing for Looker users, which is $30 for dashboard viewers, $60 for dashboard creators, and $120 for data engineers (who can write LookML). But if you are using BigQuery, you've already paid for data storage & computing on Google Cloud. For organisations with more than 30-50 collab editors, you must revise & plan your new data workflow.
5. Drawbacks of Looker Studio
The following points are some of the primary challenges with Looker Studio:
Lack of the flexibility and customizability to support complicated visualisation
Lengthy implementation processes and complicated workflows require Data Engineers with knowledge of setting up Google Cloud & Big Query.
Repetitive task of adding & cleaning data sources every time you build a report with multiple sources without centralised data/ cloud warehouse.
Did you know that? You must combine Looker Studio with BigQuery or Looker analytics platform for data modelling, ETL & deep-dive with query. But you can also use a one-stop solution like Rocket.BI to perform the data collecting, storing, analysing & data visualisation.
Slow performance with large volumes of data.
The lack of comprehensive function support. This is the reason for SLAs from the Looker Studio Pro. If you are using the free version, users need to seek help from the community.
Looker Studio is a free option for companies looking to make data accessible across their entire workforce. It offers business intelligence to non-technical users through beautiful data visualisations and the ability to connect to other popular Google services. It will require a lot more engineering & cloud expertise in the long run, and you would want to stick with Google Cloud to keep your data in one place.
Looker Studio/ Datastudio Alternatives
Looker Studio is the best free option, but it's not for every business. It's designed for quick deployment and goes straight into drag-n-drop visualisation. If your organisation is more data-driven or has already set up a Data Warehouse that's not on Google Cloud, suddenly, the process becomes complicated. Your team will need data engineers or cloud experts for setup and troubleshooting.
Here are some popular Data Visualization tools that many people use. There're also several recommendations from us. Let's explore:
DataInsider Rocket.BI: Rocket.BI (the open-source business intelligence solution) is an excellent alternative to Looker Studio. This is a self-service BI tool from DataInsider specifically designed for Big Data analytical purposes. It offers a better comprehensive capability to perform advanced analysis with SQL queries, data modelling, and more. See us introducing Rocket.BI
Tableau can help anyone see and understand their data. Connect to almost any database, drag and drop to create visualisations, and share with a click. Now offering both Cloud & Desktop versions, it is the market leader in Data Visualization. Organisations that invested heavily in data-driven would always consider using Tableau, among other BI tools. See more about Tableau here
PowerBI aims to provide interactive visualisations and business intelligence capabilities with an interface simple enough for end users to create their reports and dashboards. It's a good Looker Studio alternative from Microsoft. Like Google Data studio, it can easily connect with Microsoft services like Azure cloud and MSSQL... You can see our article about An Introduction to Microsoft Power BI