Looker's Frank Bein

Looker Takes Building Block Approach to Business Logic

3 minute read
Erika Morphy avatar

Santa Cruz, Calif.-based Looker has taken its unique modular approach to business analytics and pushed the envelope a little further with the introduction of Looker Blocks this week.

Not exactly full-fledged products with out of the box functionality that can be operational within hours, Looker Blocks have a different appeal to a different type of user.

They are components of business logic that create centralized and reliable definitions for the business, the company stated.

Looker Blocks are based on a model written in LookML, a language for describing dimensions, fields and relationships in a SQL database.

The Blocks do require integration, or at least assistance from the Looker team to customize for a particular user. But once the product is in place the Blocks are reusable and can scale as the business grows. 

Where They Fit

A company might opt to use one of the pre-scripted Blocks Looker has developed for issues common to most companies, such as analyzing a sales funnel or monitoring for customer defections.

These Blocks also make it easier to integrate the various data silos in Salesforce, Zendesk, Marketo, Snowplow and Segment, according to the company.

The second group of Blocks, which focuses on analysis of the data, is closer to Looker's original mission when it launched, which was to develop an analytical framework that can be plugged into any aspect of a company's operations.

The Blocks are repeatable patterns of logic that are based on Looker's earlier work on business intelligence and its lightweight web application that can be deployed either on-premises or in the cloud and can directly to a database, according to CEO Frank Bien.

These Blocks can be customized to address a specific problem that the company has, or a question that it wants to answer.

Still Siloed, Little Integration

Competing vendors and not a few of their customers might be wondering why the Blocks are necessary when most modern business applications have, or purport to have, such functionality.

Learning Opportunities

Well, they don't, at least not completely, Bien told CMSWire.

Integration and siloed data is still an issue for many companies despite the many, many attempts to address these pain points over the years -- a campaign that is reaching into second and third generations of software.

A typical company Looker works with might have Salesforce, Zendesk and Marketo to manage various parts of its sales and marketing operations, Bien said and still find the integration of these applications wanting in certain instances.

The Looker Block addresses this gap by tapping into these applications for the necessary data. The business logic and analytical functionality that are inherent in the Blocks takes it from there, he explained.

To answer such overarching questions as 'what is the lifetime value of my most valuable customer?' or even more fundamentally, 'who is my most valuable customer?' a company would need both the data from the various databases in the separate applications, combined with Looker's business logic, Bien said.

"In today's competitive market, every business in every industry should be leveraging data to make informed decisions, but available tools offer either limited views of the data or require data experts to answer even simple questions,” Bien said.

Looker Blocks is a way for analysts to centralize their business logic while also offering access to everyone in the company, he said.

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