Santa Cruz, Calif.-based Looker's raison d'être has been to make business intelligence as modular as possible — and then insert those modules into every nook and cranny of the enterprise. Anything, even a bot, can be improved with embedded analytics, according to Looker's worldview.
The company advances this theme significantly with today's release of Looker 4.0, a platform upgrade that the company calls the most significant in its corporate history. "Looker 4 is the result of years of work and ushers in a new generation of BI/Analytics, addressing the fragmentation of self-service dashboards and data preparation tools to fully unleash the power of data in organizations," says CEO Frank Bien.
The announcement was made this morning at Join 2016 in New York City, Looker’s first two-day conference. During the day's first keynote, Bien also discussed how innovators are integrating analytics into every aspect of their businesses, from mobile to warehouse to cloud, and shared Looker’s vision for the future of business intelligence and data analytics.
A new full, RESTful API allows developers to push data almost anywhere as well as create custom applications. New Actions and Webhooks functionality lets users pull data, charts or analysis from most applications and then take action on the analysis.
To accomplish all this, Looker has refreshed LookML, a language for describing dimensions, fields and relationships in a SQL database. It also released a Looker Blocks Directory with more than 50 Blocks. (Looker introduced a handful of Blocks about a year ago. They are components of business logic that create centralized definitions for the business and are written in LookML. They are not quite full-fledged products, but come with out of the box functionality that can be operational within hours.)
Following the release of its first Blocks, Looker then debuted data apps earlier this year -- prepackaged applications that model what early adopters built using Looker's architecture and the Looker Blocks. There are now 12 with this release, built by Looker, of course, but also Google, Adobe, IBM, Segment, Stitch and Datastician.
Intelligent Content Discovery
Looker has also added content discovery tools in 4.0 so that users can better find the data they want (or may not know they want). "A user of Looker has access to far greater amounts of data than in s typical BI tool," Bien told CMSWire. "They may need suggestions about what the right data is for a particular task or where it can be found.”
Looker accomplishes that with improved search interfaces and suggestions, such as 'people in your particular group have liked this data,' etc.
"It provides intelligence on top of the content system," Bien said.
Pushing Data Out Programmatically
The upshot of these changes is that Looker's APIs are now equipped to push data out programmatically instead of being moved manually, Bien said.
One example might be a company that wants to integrate business intelligence into a dynamic pricing work process. The company is able to create the metrics that describe the business and its products and then move that into a dynamic pricing engine automatically, per the Looker API.
Another example is a company that wants to create a list of prospects through its connections to Salesforce.com and Marketo and then feed that list back into the marketing automation process based on web actions to trigger a bulk mailing campaign.
Again, this has been doable without the Looker API, Bein said — "the way we enable data to be moved in and out in a programmatic way is unique to Looker."