Placing BI modernization at the heart of business transformation

Josh Parenteau, Market Intelligence Lead, Looker at Google Cloud

Nov 30, 2020

Today’s businesses are moving faster than ever, and that means they need to evolve to better achieve their goals and remain competitive. The world of e-commerce has dramatically changed consumer behavior and is driving new expectations for much of the global workforce. Employees increasingly expect the same immediate access to data and technology in their work lives as they do in their personal lives as the line between them continues to blur.

With everything and everyone becoming digitally connected, organizations have to rethink traditional management and workforce constructs. The way that a successful company operates has changed: there are more remote workers today than ever before, and CFOs expect that trend to continue indefinitely.1

Modernizing your business intelligence (BI) initiatives is key to harnessing the opportunities present in this era of hyperconnectivity. It’s worth a pause to consider if your BI initiatives are helping you get ahead, or if they could be improved to keep pace with the modern business landscape. Try asking yourself the following questions:

  • What insights are we gaining about our business?
  • Is our investment in BI making an impact on the bottom line?
  • Does our use of data consistently fuel good decisions that lead to the outcomes we want?
  • Can we act on real-time data, or are we typically building reports that only analyze what happened in the past?

If your answers to those questions aren’t quite what you would like them to be, or if you’re struggling with a lack of governance and scale in your BI initiatives, it may be time to modernize your BI.

What is modern BI, and how can it help transform companies?

Taking a new, modern approach to BI can give your company timely and contextualized access to data that is critical to your success. A study by McKinsey & Company2 demonstrated that businesses using data wisely outperform their peers. Using the BI gained from strategically managed data can help drive better business outcomes by offering insights on customer satisfaction, operational efficiency, product performance, and more.

Modern BI vs. traditional BI platforms

Traditional BI platforms were built putting technology first, rather than the user. In the past, the starting point of almost every BI deployment was the creation of a data warehouse, fed by rigid and complex extract, transform and load (ETL) scripts. The last step was to select an enterprise reporting tool to expose BI to the masses. At this point — fingers crossed — users would embrace the BI tool (and the use of data). You can probably guess what adoption rates look like when the user is an afterthought. Pretty bad: in fact, estimates indicate that less than 30% of the workforce adopts their organizations’ BI tools, and even if they do, the tools aren’t an integral part of their daily work.

On top of lagging adoption rates, traditional tools weren’t designed for a modern experience and typically cannot scale with added quantities or different types of data, resulting in bottlenecks and conflicting answers to data questions. They’re also architecturally complex and inhibit the quick, iterative development that modern developers want. This means limited experiences for users, and a one-size-fits-all approach to analytics confined to reports and dashboards.

The transformational, modern BI solution

Fortunately, there’s a better alternative: transformational BI that inverts the approach taken by traditional solutions and instead puts the primary focus on the users and the individual problems they are trying to solve, then aligns technical solutions and data to answer to their specific needs. Modern, user-first BI amplifies your workforce with timely and contextual access to data, whether it’s through a tool in an application, conveniently sent to their phone, or in a product they’re already accustomed to using.

Modern BI also scales well, has the flexibility to incorporate new data sources as quickly as you get them, and offers a rich array of options to developers building custom solutions.

It’s a compelling idea, but figuring out how to get started may be daunting at first. At this point in the Looker journey, we’ve helped so many companies transform their BI that it made sense to create an offering exclusively dedicated to it. We call it the Looker BI Modernization solution.

Modern BI & analytics with Looker

Our BI Modernization solution enables businesses with legacy BI platforms to modernize their approach to BI and build a strong foundation based on the data most critical to business transformation. Even better, you can maintain the governance, security, and trust inherent in your legacy BI tools through LookML, Looker’s SQL-based modeling layer. LookML is more agile, collaborative and flexible than the rigid semantic layers at the heart of the legacy BI architecture.

Looker BI Modernization offers organizations:

  • No-limits infrastructure that seamlessly and efficiently grows to accommodate ever-changing business needs.
  • Governance that ensures users are looking at information correctly for accurate insights (rather than wasting time arguing over whose data is “right”).
  • Availability anywhere that meets users wherever and whenever they need data, whether that’s on a dashboard, in an application, or through an automated alert.
  • Future proofing with a platform that offers an extensible framework to integrate additions to your data stack as it evolves.

You can move beyond building and maintaining basic reports and dashboards to delivering high-value data experiences that fuel better business decisions and outcomes through the smarter use of data. Placing BI at the center of business transformation helps you unlock the true value of your data — and become a force to be contended with in today’s quickly moving, increasingly digitized world.

Want to learn more about Looker BI Modernization? Reach out for a demo. We’d be thrilled to talk with you.


1 Gartner CFO Survey Reveals 74% Intend to Shift Some Employees to Remote Work Permanently
2 Catch them if you can: How leaders in data and analytics have pulled ahead

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