Looker Data Visualization: A Comprehensive Guide

on BI Tool, Data Visualization • May 3rd, 2021

looker data visualization: FI

Looker is an intuitive Big Data Analytics and Business Intelligence platform offered by Google. Looker provides extendable functionality for both large and small teams allowing them to discover critical data-backed insights and build reports in seconds. Looker provides robust sharing and collaboration features. It also helps teams store and protect the data in an operable knowledge base which can be used for better decision-making.

This blog talks about Looker Data Visualization in great detail. It touches upon the basics of Looker as a Data Visualization tool, the different use cases of Looker Data Visualizations, and the steps involved in setting up a project in Looker. The article also covers the challenges faced by Looker Data Visualization.        

Table of Contents

What is Data Visualization?

Data Visualization refers to a graphical representation of data namely graphs, diagrams, charts, and maps to simplify understanding. Data Visualization is a key component of practical decision-making since humans can process visual information faster and more efficiently compared to written information. With the help of Data Visualization tools, you can understand the disparities, context of patterns, and relationships and identify opportunities & trends in the data. Here are a few benefits of Data Visualization:

  • Draw Quick Insights: Data Visualization helps simplify the complexity of drawing insights from complex datasets since the visual representation of data allows you to easily unearth actionable insights from the data that may go unnoticed in another format. 
  • Discover Trends and Patterns Easily: Trends and outliers can be easily discovered when the data is presented in a graphical or visual format instead of having to parse through text or spreadsheets.
  • Establish Swift Connections Between Insights and Strategy: Data Visualization bridges the gap between actionable insights and effective decisions by helping companies understand data and its correlation to problems. This gives companies the ability to identify root causes more effectively coupled with faster problem-solving. 
  • Discover Different Ways of Interpreting Data: You can weave a story with your data by leveraging Data Visualization. Data Visualization tools offer several graphic visualizations namely heat maps, line charts, area charts, box charts, donut charts, pie plots and scatter plots, etc to choose from irrespective of the motive. You can use it to show composition, understand a range of values, compare them, discover outliers, illustrate trends, or compare relationships to different sets of data.   

What is Looker?

Looker differentiates itself from the different Data Visualization tools in the market by enabling its users to create their visualizations and graphs. You can also create all kinds of exploration and collaboration models with minimal SQL knowledge while preserving key data distinctions. 

Looker can deftly handle web-based data and support different variations including Vertica, Hive, Spark, and BigQuery. The key features of Looker are as follows:

  • Open API
  • In-Database Architecture
  • Easy Creation of Dashboards
  • Browser-Based Interface
  • Real-Time Data Exploration
  • Fully Exportable and Customizable Reports
  • Extensible Modeling Language
  • Live Connections to all SQL Databases and Infrastructures

Looker follows a quote-based pricing model which allows you to request a package modeled to your specific business use cases, requirements, and budget.   

Key Features of Looker

Looker houses a wide range of features that differentiates it from the other BI tools. Some of those features are given below:

  • Looker helps you create real-time dashboards for an in-depth and consistent analysis of your data.
  • It helps you integrate multiple tools and enhance their capabilities when analyzing data so that you can make better data-driven decisions.
  • It makes all your workflows data-driven by regenerating them with fresh, reliable data. Looker gives teams unified access to the answers they need to drive successful outcomes.
  • Looker also helps you create custom applications to interact with your customers easily.
  • It can also provide a live connection to any SQL database on any infrastructure.
  • It efficiently uses Looker ML (Look ML) to describe the measures and dimensions of all its projects.

Looker is an amazing tool to work with and provides a wide range of features that integrate seamlessly with almost any database or data source.

To learn more about Looker, click this link

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What are the Types of Looker Data Visualizations?

Looker provides numerous visualizations to simplify the understanding of data. You can pick a visualization type depending on your need (this consists of industry and use case requirements). Here is a list comprising a few unique Data Visualizations offered by Looker:

  • Sunburst: A Sunburst diagram is an open-source tool primarily used for depicting hierarchical data structures. It utilizes a radial representation of data that makes it more aesthetically pleasing and an excellent tool for presentations. 
  • Collapsible Tree Diagram: A Collapsible Tree Diagram is an open-source tool that can be used to interactively visualize hierarchical data. This can also be expanded and minimized in real-time accordingly by clicking on certain nodes. A Tree Diagram consists of a root node connecting to other nodes by branches   
  • Liquid Fill Guage: A Liquid Fill Guage Visualization is an open-source tool that can be used to calculate the progress towards a goal. Users can modify the color of the gauge, font color, color of the liquid, and the animation of the waves. 
  • Chord Diagram: Chord Diagrams are open source tools used to effectively visualize the relationship between two items that are a part of a larger dataset. These diagrams are mainly used to depict movement from point A to point B.

How to Set up a Visualization in Looker?

With Looker, you can easily create charts and graphics based on the results of a query. Since Looker keeps visualization configuration and query details together, users can view the visualization and the data when a query is shared. 

  • Step 1: First, you need to create and run your query.
  • Step 2: Click on the Visualization tab to begin configuring your visualization options. 
  • Step 3: You can choose the type of visualization that can display your data in the best manner possible. For more options, click the 3 dots to the right of the visualization options.
  • Step 4: Finally, click Edit to configure the visualization option settings, for instance arranging and naming chart axes, and modifying the chart color palette to name a few. You can also specify the measures and dimensions to be included in the visualization for a more complete result.    

What is the Looker Data Visualizations Use Cases?

You can use Looker Data Visualization for a large number of industries in the following sections, to bolster the efficiency of your operations and steer business growth in the process through data-driven insights.

Here you will be exploring the following use cases of Looker Data Visualization:

Looker Data Visualization: eCommerce

You can use Looker’s data-driven insights from your customers to drive sales and improve Customer Experience significantly. With Looker, you can get a deeper understanding of every aspect of your business from finding friction points in the purchasing process to tracking web activities affecting conversion rates.

You can empower your eCommerce Analytics with various tools of Looker that helps you discover profitable insights and create opportunities to develop your business as follows:

  • Category and Brand Management: You can use the analytics dashboard to identify the top performers in various product categories and utilize this information to make more efficient purchasing decisions. You can use Looker Data Visualization to maximize profitability by utilizing the insights to guide which promotions to run, location-based marketing choices, and when to transfer your items to your online store. This also gives you an idea about your inventory performance ensuring that high-demand products always remain in play. With the help of alerting software, you can set reminders to restock your high-demand products when they hit a certain threshold. 
  • Tracking Customer Behavior and Trends: Looker Data Visualization allows you to drill down into the user behavior data to learn more about their shopping habits, preferences, order history, and what motivates their purchase decisions. You can compare the behavior of one-time buyers against your loyal customers to identify opportunities and strategies to improve your marketing campaigns to enhance customer loyalty.  
  • eCommerce Analysis: Looker gives you the tools to track key eCommerce KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) like Customer Conversion Rate and Customer Lifetime Value. Looker‘s eCommerce Business Analytics tools utilize Predictive Modeling to discover key customer trends and update prices based on supply and demand. Deliveroo, Bonobos, GILT, and Glossier fall under the list of companies that leveraged Looker to better serve their customers.      

Looker Data Visualization: Healthcare

You can use Looker to work on Healthcare Analytics which allows you to work with various healthcare stakeholders like doctors, patients, and insurance companies to improve efficiency and patient care. Looker is being leveraged to create better outcomes to combat COVID-19 as follows:

  • Efficient planning with Qventus: Qventus provides an AI-based platform that equips hospital teams to make better operational decisions in real-time. Qventus helped hospitals be prepared for increased hospital capacity needs in transitions and supplies for patient care. They increased preparedness by powering their AI software with Looker to come up with a customized ‘PPE Demand Planner and Post Acute Care Utilization Tool’ for the best patient care and planning.
  • Effective and proactive monitoring by Commonwealth Care Alliance (CCA): CCA is a community-based, not-for-profit healthcare organization that focuses on providing care for high-needs individuals. CCA utilized a model that improved healthcare while cutting back on overall costs of care. CCA is utilizing the latest facts and guidance to proactively monitor and help the patients with COVID-19 by using Google BigQuery and Looker in tandem.  
  • Improved Digital Care with Force Therapeutics: Force Therapeutics is a patient engagement platform and research network that focuses on improving care by streamlining the connection between care teams, physicians, and patients. By delivering customized and secure insights to administrators, surgeons, and patients they worked on transforming care making it more efficient in the process. For this purpose, they used Embedded Analytics in their product with Looker to provide scalable and secure insights. The access to these insights significantly reduced costs and improved patient experience while receiving pre and post-op care.  
  • Transition to Value-Based Care: Healthcare is being revolutionized by Alternative Payment Models (APM) but the metrics needed to analyze the performance of APMs have taken years to develop. However, NewWave Telecom and Technologies, Inc. were able to develop dashboards and metrics for new APMs in just a matter of days. They were able to achieve this by leveraging Looker’s flexible data platform with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The dashboards built using Looker Blocks and existing metrics can be used by administrators and doctors to understand patient performance across cohorts. A deeper understanding of patients across numerous metrics will lay the groundwork for the smooth transition to value-based care.   

Looker Data Visualization: Gaming

You can use Looker Data Visualization to develop games loved by the people and have them come back for more by thoroughly understanding gamer behavior. You can utilize Video Game Analytics to boost your revenue as follows:

  • Gameplay Experience Optimization: To optimize gameplay, you should focus on reducing churn. This means going beyond the simple retention metrics to identify key problem areas for the players and optimize them to decrease quits and reduce Customer Churn Rate in the process. For instance, focus on getting rid of any glitches or bugs that prevent a smooth gameplay experience. You need to monitor KPIs for insights to help your product team track the results and rebalance the game economy. Focus on constantly upgrading the gameplay through the insights found in user behavior.    
  • Focus on Key Gameplay Metrics: To develop your key gameplay metrics, you need to focus on optimizing campaign spend. You should take a three-dimensional look at campaigns across different channels, down to event-level intelligence. You can optimize installs and increase revenue by taking advantage of automated bidding for real-time bid adjustments. A primary key metric for gaming is Ad Revenue. Establish the connection between in-app ad revenue and game metrics that helps you develop the right ads on the right channels at the right time for effective campaign results. Finding the balance between monetization and retention is imperative for better player engagement.    
  • Unearth Key Customer Insights: Study customer behavior to understand how you can stand out in crowded marketplaces with a dedicated customer base. You can do this by combining all revenue sources to get a full picture of each player’s Lifetime Value at any point of their lifecycle. You can also make use of Cohort Analysis to create custom cohorts that display certain trends within the group that can dictate product decisions to improve gameplay.  

Looker Data Visualization: Retail

Looker is a Cloud-Native Enterprise Business Intelligence Platform that provides retailers with secure access to real-time data helping them make better business decisions. Retail generally relies heavily on data to optimize the decision-making process across organizations. Data can affect the marketing strategy, trend forecasting, inventory control, and customer behavior in the increasingly digital space of retail as follows: 

  • Increased Customer Lifetime Value: Looker’s Customer Support and Retail Analytics can help customer service teams improve quality, results, and response time while enabling greater insight into upselling opportunities and identification of losses. With Looker Data Visualization, you can also focus on proactively predicting and preventing potential issues that may pop up. This eventually leads to fewer customer service problems and increased brand loyalty. 
  • Improved Supply Chains and Operations: With Looker Data Visualization, you can track merchandise movement from source to the customer (and every step along the journey) which drives profitability and efficiency. Looker also allows you to delve into minute-to-minute insights of inventory numbers which is a key proponent for boosting operational efficiency. Finally, you can use Looker to trace the customer issues back to the source. When you tie the customer feedback to the supply chain issues you successfully improve both customer experiences and profitability. 
  • Development of Omnichannel Merchandising Strategies: An omnichannel merchandising strategy helps create a unified shopping experience through Looker’s customer-centric retail platform. This platform ensures a seamless shopping experience for customers across several channels. With the help of built-in technology, retailers can gain an insight into purchasing patterns across numerous channels. It also plays a key role in maximizing sales across channels by pulling various points of data across channels into one centralized location. You can subsequently compile them into actionable insights to drive business-wide decisions.
  • Retail Data Monetization: There are various ways you can work on monetizing your retail data. You can begin by ensuring compliance with various data control and privacy regulations. Looker’s Retail Analytics solutions give retailers better control over data. This allows them to set the visibility of supplier data to mitigate risk ensuring secure access to data. Next, you can use Looker to provide near real-time data which gives the suppliers a better idea about product performance and how it fares against the competitor’s products. Finally, by turning the data into a product you develop additional sources of income that can be easily executed and have a high success rate. 

What are the Challenges of Building Visualizations in Looker?

So far in this article, you have explored the basics of Data Visualization and Looker along with the various use cases of Looker Data Visualization in multiple industries. Looker has left an indelible mark as a Business Intelligence and Data Analytics tool in the past few years, but it is not without its shortcomings. Here is a list of challenges that Looker still faces:

  • The APIs offered by Looker are difficult to use with authentication problems.
  • Maintenance of on-premise servers requires a lot of effort.
  • Looker is inundated with datasets that are too large which takes a lot of time to be processed.  

Conclusion

This blog talked about Looker Data Visualization in great detail. It explored how Looker is being leveraged by different industries to extract profitable and actionable insights to guide the decision-making process. It also explored the different kinds of Data Visualization offered by Looker and the steps you can follow to set up Looker Data Visualization for your pipeline. The 

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