Looker Blog : Data Matters

Build a Path to Predictive Analytics with Big Squid & Looker

Nick Magnuson, VP Analytics, Big Squid

Aug 15, 2017

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What will your Looker investment look like in 2018? Will it incorporate machine learning and predictive analytics? Does it drive new insights and compel better decisions? Will it build upon your view of the business today to paint a picture of what lies ahead? Can it direct decisions at the front lines of the business? All interesting questions to ponder; and if you don’t know the answers, you’re in good company. The buzzword bingo floating around in the business landscape means most of us have heard of “machine learning”, “artificial intelligence”, “predictive analytics”, but few have actually integrated into the daily operations of our business.

For true trailblazers in the business analytics world, such concepts will be ubiquitous to business intelligence in the coming years. They’ll be utilizing such solutions pervasively across their business, in each department and role within it. For others, this seems unattainable, if even approachable.

From our standpoint at Big Squid, the greatest barrier to bringing powerful solutions like predictive analytics to the broader business community is the scarcity of resources able to build and deploy such capabilities. Equipped with an understanding of sophisticated mathematical approaches and necessary programming chops, data scientists are difficult to find, afford, and scale. Fortunately, they no longer need to be the only way to implement these sorts of solutions.

At Big Squid, we are solving this problem by bringing predictive analytics to the business decision maker. What does that mean? It means that we created a SaaS platform for business leaders that leverages data within your existing Looker platform in order to make predictions about the future of your business. With the recent boom in Business Intelligence (BI) investments for midmarket to enterprise level companies, the question has become what to do with ALL that data? The crux is: how do you operationalize the data now that you have it? Big Squid’s predictive analytics platform is a valuable extension of your Looker Data Platform in that we’re applying machine learning to gain insight into the probable future state of the metrics that matter most.

Filling the Predictive Analytics Gap

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Data platforms, like Looker, are necessary for understanding the Descriptive and Diagnostic phases of your business intelligence value chain. In fact, Data and BI platforms are essential to gaining insight into what is happening right now within all aspects of your business. However, many mid-market to enterprise level companies are struggling to remove the complexity of data science and make informed data-driven decisions about the future. To offset the imbalance of data scientists in the marketplace, businesses are finding the need to use solutions (like Big Squid) that leverage the existing employee base. Such solutions can turn data specialists into Citizen Data Scientists, empowering them to bring new, forward-looking insights to the business through their existing Looker platform.

"Predictive Analytics & Machine Learning has incredible interest and value to more accurately answering business-critical questions of decision makers, but are bottle-necked by the need for scarce “data scientists” personnel that is often non-business-facing."

“Give Business Users the ability to Forecast Key Business Metrics using sophisticated predictive analytics & machine learning with less bandwidth from scarce data scientists.

The traditional workflow below should look familiar. The problem with this flow is that a data scientist is required to spend a majority of their time collecting and preparing the data in order to begin the valuable analysis and engagement phases. This is where the business can make decisions and take action.

As a Looker customer, this is great news: because you’ve already prepared your data for exploration and visualization in Looker, you’re ready for predictive analytics.

Collecting, preparing, cleaning, and ultimately staging data for organization-wide use is by far the lionshare of the work required for building a predictive model. And since that lift is already in place, extending our analysis to incorporate sophisticated forecasting is absolutely within reach.

Our approach to predictive analytics vastly simplifies the model exploration and deployment process without sacrificing rigor. Our predictive analytics platform has significant advantages over other expert tools (SAS, R, Python, etc) in that the platform gives data analysts the the ability today to become data scientists. They can apply their understanding of data structure and business problems, to provide better insights of future trends to key business decision makers. This saves time and money.

While this is just the tip of the iceberg, now you can engage other individuals at your business and start the conversations around how to gain better insight into the future of your business all within your existing Looker investment.

Where do we see customers exploring these capabilities? Lots of areas. Keep a lookout for new Looker blocks from Big Squid supporting an ever growing number of use cases. Until then, here are example solutions we’ve built by vertical:

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We want to help you become a Data Science-Driven Business.

Want to learn more? I am hosting a webinar with Looker August 24, sign up here to learn how to harness the power of Machine Learning with ease.

We will also be at JOIN, stop by our booth to say hello or sign up for one of our Data Science Labs here, we will help you on your path to Predictive Analytics no matter where you are in your journey. These labs will show you exactly how Predictive Analytics can drive change in your business with the data you already have.

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