Looker Blog : Data Matters

Analytics for All: A Smarter Way to Work with Data

Kenny Cunanan, Product Marketing Manager

Feb 13, 2018

Today, Looker is announcing the availability of new features that will make it easy for everyone in an organization to have access to the freshest data in order to get rapid, clear answers to nearly any question.

Historically, businesses have struggled to get value out of their data. In a 2015 report,”Digital Insights are the new Currency of Business”, Forrester found that only 29% of businesses are connecting analysis to action.

How are organizations today missing out on getting the full advantage of the insights hidden in their data?

There’s a general understanding that data hides information of great value, but collecting data is only half of the equation.

In order to get better answers, you need to ask better questions. The best questions are asked by people with deep experience with the business -- and while these people are frequently experts in their area, they’re not usually experts in analytics. So, who are they?

The answer is simple: they’re the data consumers in your company.

Everyone is a data consumer

Data pervades our everyday lives so much that we sometimes forget that we’re pretty good at understanding data already.

We all consume data from many sources including:

  • The smartwatches on our wrists that show us how far we’ve walked
  • The speedometers in our cars that help us monitor how fast we’re driving
  • The scores for our favorite sports teams that allows us to see how they’re performing

Data allows us to understand things about ourselves that were previously hard to know, such as if we’re getting healthier or lazier, if we’re following the rules of the road, or if we should cheer or cry after a sporting event.

And when we understand the answers hidden in data, we want to ask more questions.

For example...

  • If you’ve been counting your steps for a while, you might also start to monitor your eating habits or sleep patterns
  • If you’re interested in travel time, you might also invest in a GPS that tells you precisely when you’ll reach your destination
  • If you really like sports statistics, you just might start to read sports analyses like this

And ultimately the more questions you ask of your data, the better answers you get. The better answers you get, the more information you have to improve your life.

How do we better focus on business data?

The question remains: if it’s so simple to get more out of your data, why are companies still struggling to get value out of the massive amount of data they’ve been collecting?

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Businesses often have to make a hard choice between empowering their data team or empowering data consumers.

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Looker fundamentally changes the way data teams and data consumers work, by helping them work together.

The data consumers bring their questions, expertise, and understanding of context that generates the data. The data teams bring data that’s fresh from the source, vetted with analysis in Looker, and work hard to make sure data consumers can keep asking questions.

Working together, they get better answers to their questions and change the direction of their business.

How is Looker contributing to an understanding of data?

Looker continues to invest in our best-in-class data platform that makes it even easier for data consumers to understand their data and ask more questions of it.

To really understand the data, users need to get the context they need, communicate with their peers in a way that makes sense, and connect answers and insights to their existing workflows. And today, Looker’s is taking dramatic leaps forward for business users on all of these fronts.

Context

To get the answers they need, data consumers need to be able to jump right into analysis at any given time. After all, it’s data they’re familiar with -- analytics tools should help them immediately understand what’s important and what’s not.

That’s why we’re proud to announce new context-relevant homepages in Looker that make it easier for data consumers to:

  • Understand what data people on their team are using to make better decisions
  • Be alerted by critical announcements from their data team about new data sources (and new questions they could be asking)
  • Manage their own data content better

Our new homepages are intelligent and use a sophisticated algorithm to determine the most relevant data for each user. We believe these new homepages will make it even easier for users to develop an understanding of their data.

Communication

Context alone, of course, isn’t enough. We also need to communicate our findings with our peers to review and revise our answers.

Critically, the most important medium that a data consumer uses to communicate to others is visualization. And we wanted to ensure that the number of ways data consumers can visualize data is unlimited, so we’re launching a whole custom visualization library, and a workflow that will enable companies to add their own custom visualizations.

We’ve also made it easier than ever to send important data from Looker to your colleagues via email, Slack, or virtually any other medium of communication, with a redesigned scheduler that makes data delivery even easier for everyone.

Connection

The final piece of the puzzle is connecting data consumers to the data sources that they need to analyze their data. And we’ve found that the best way to do this at Looker is to connect data consumers to data experts every, through our blocks and applications, built in conjunction with the best companies in the business.

Maybe you use Google Adwords to run ad campaigns. What if you could immediately deploy analysis built by the Google Adwords team to analyze your data? Or maybe you use Atlassian to run your organization. What if you could deploy workflows on JIRA instantly, and automatically from Looker?

And once you’re connected with the best analysis from the best analysts in the industry, you can use our new data actions to make your analysis immediately actionable. Update records in Salesforce or JIRA at the push of a button, or send a discount code to your users through Twilio, all available through Looker at the push of a button.

A more informed world

We believe that when your whole organization can ask better questions, you can get even better answers. And when you get better answers, you can make better decisions.

And one of those decisions just might change the direction of your business.

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