The printed Wall Street Journel (WSJ) is an amazing object. Each day it's created, edited, and packed with interesting stories and information. It's a report of all the noteworthy things that happened yesterday, a report of where the stocks closed yesterday. It's beautiful and well-organized.
The WSJ has a problem though. When I read something interesting and I get to end of the article, I'm done. That's it.
We now demand more from our information than a well-organized summary. As we read something interesting, we immediately want to respond to the questions that the information raises. This need to dive deep at any moment in an exploration is why tools like Google are gradually replacing objects like the WSJ.
If I were forced to choose between the WSJ and Google, I'd choose Google. With Google, once my interest is piqued, I can dig. Dig as deep as I want.
When designing Looker, we made the exact, conscious choice to prioritize Discovery (the ability to do research) over Pretty (the ability to make attractive reports).
Many providers in the BI space have chosen differently. For the most part, they deliver dashboards and reports on a periodic basis. Some of these reports are multimedia and permit a limited degree of tweaking (sliders and filters). But they are basically static.
Looker is different. It's designed so you can see all of your data. All of it. Have a question? Dig deep. It's in there; you can get to it. See an interesting thread? Follow it. You'll spend hours poking around. What you learn will make you and your business smarter.
Reports keep you informed. Discovery makes you smarter.
Don't you love it when you're watching CSI and they're looking at a photograph? They zoom in on a license plate, then hit "Enhance." We all just laugh, right? Well, Looker can do that. But on something more important: your data. And we do it well.
It's not that Looker isn't pretty too, but nothing beats discovery.