JOIN 2020 Recap: Bringing the digital data conference to you

Pedro Arellano, Director of Looker Product Marketing, Google Cloud

Oct 23, 2020

JOIN, whether in person or “@Home,” is about bringing the Looker community together. It’s a time to highlight the latest product updates, share tips and best practices, and ultimately inspire one another to solve problems and create opportunities with data.

While JOIN was a little different this year, I’m grateful that the switch to a virtual format allowed us to engage with our broader, global community. We hosted speakers from Santiago to Toronto, San Francisco to Tel Aviv, and many places in between. I joined from home in San Diego, California.

The switch to digital also allowed attendees to participate in live, interactive sessions, and learn at their own pace with on-demand content. For those of you who spent the week with us, we’d love to hear what you thought and invite you to register for our “What’s New in Looker November 2020” webinar to make sure you’re leveraging the latest product features (North America, EMEA). If you didn’t have time to attend everything you hoped to last week, don’t worry. There’s still time to catch the on-demand sessions via the JOIN Content Hub, which I’ll outline for you below.

Let’s start with the keynote

2020 has been a year of change for everyone. One positive shift here at Looker has been our transition into Google Cloud. This has brought a new look and feel to the Looker brand, and it’s strengthened our capacity to continue on our mission — to empower people through the smarter use of data. Our commitment to supporting our customers — on multiple clouds and multiple databases — remains steadfast as ever.

Releasing new product features to help you deploy all kinds of data experiences in your organization is one of the best ways to demonstrate that support. Some of the latest product updates you can try out for yourself include a native mobile Looker application, general availability of our new dashboards, updates to our Slack integration and the Extension Framework for developers, additions to the Looker Marketplace, and, of course, numerous updates to continuously improve the administration and user experience of Looker.

Hacking connections into a digital world

To create opportunities for networking, discussion, and skill-building, three of our four days of JOIN were dedicated to live interactive sessions. Among the activities were opportunities to connect with Looker experts (including one-on-one meetings with our Department of Customer Love), gather in groups for Women in Tech and Data Circles of Success, as well as virtual workshops and our popular Hackathon.

I’d like to call out our two-day virtual Hackathon for Looker Application Development, which brought together 100+ developers from 14 countries. The participants received hands-on support from experts (including Looker software engineers) and were the first to preview unreleased developer tools. Thank you to everyone who participated. It was incredible to see what you built on the Looker platform.

And a huge congratulations to our winners for the Best Hack and Nearly Best Hack awards:

Best Hack: Natural Language Looker Querying using the GPT-3 AI by Italo D’amota

Using the OpenAI GPT-3 APIs, this hack allows users to ask questions in “human-friendly” terms and get auto-generated Looker Explores in response. Natural language has the potential to help everyone in an organization experience data.

Nearly Best Hack: Linking Looker by Bytecode IO

This hack delivers a zero downtime deployment using a new Looker Extension Framework utility. It can help manage multiple Looker instances by comparing and updating code and content across those instances. The Linking Looker hack provides an interface within a source Looker instance (for example, dev or staging) that checks aspects (such as content or permissions) in a target Looker instance (such as production) for differences and errors prior to deploying LookML.

How to choose the right on demand content

We focused our on-demand sessions around the questions our customers most commonly ask — whether it’s how to strategically lead and empower others with data, or the nuts and bolts of administration and building data experiences on the Looker platform. Here’s a bit of what you can expect from each track, as well as sessions you can still access on demand.

Delivering Data & Answers to People

Sessions in this track focus on ways to ensure data is accessible, understandable, and actionable for the people who need it to do their jobs.

Customer sessions:

  • Clorox’s tips for delivering data ‘on demand’ across an enterprise
  • Mercado Libre’s journey from web analytics to insight delivery
  • Qventus shares how they built a “PPE Demand Planner and Post Acute Care Utilization Tool”

Product tips:

Data Leadership Strategies for Industries

In this track, sessions highlight leaders across industries to share the trends they’re seeing and the strategies they’re following to successfully lead their organizations with data.

Customer sessions:

  • Comcast’s data modernization story
  • How Commonwealth Care Alliance uses data to react to COVID-19
  • Cisco’s Chief Data Evangelist’s advice for building a data culture at scale
  • Farfetch's entrepreneurial approach to unifying around data
  • Jobvite’s experience consolidating multiple BI tools across the enterprise
  • Contact Center Insights revolutionizes contact centers with AI

Industry sessions:

  • Data-driven tips for retailers
  • Enhance audience engagement in media.

Product Tips: Get a sneak peek into the latest GCP innovations with What’s New and Next in Smart Analytics — including a demonstration of the latest industry solution.

Efficient Model Development

Learn about features to help strengthen your analytics foundation and optimize query performance, enabling you to collaborate and extend your core data model to new parts of your business.

Customer sessions:

  • AppysFlyer shares tips for efficient data modeling and analyzing dozens of petabytes of data
  • MandM Direct shares how they created a sophisticated alerting system
  • Sunrun shares their experience and advice for providing governed data at enterprise scale

Product tips:

Data Application Platform

Did you know you can build data applications with Looker? This track highlights cost-efficient strategies for accelerating data application development and driving revenue with the full spectrum of Looker developer tools.

Customer sessions:

  • Fox shares best practices on building data products
  • Why GoSpotCheck builds custom data applications to rapidly solve diverse problems
  • How Wix quickly ships and iterates custom data experiences to empower millions

Product tips:

Looking ahead

Thank you to all of our speakers, sponsors, and to everyone who joined us last week. We’d love to hear your JOIN@Home feedback so we can make our next event even better for you. And be sure to check out the Content Hub to catch up with any on-demand sessions you missed (or go back to those you want to revisit).

The strength of our data community inspired me this year at JOIN@Home. As I look to the future, I know one thing for certain: I can’t wait to see what we all achieve with data next.

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