Don’t Looker back in anger
Alasdair Fowler, 2 mins read
Towards the end of 2017, the Marketing Team heard rumours of a new data analytics platform to replace the ‘Viper’ interface, which we built in-house using SQL.
Although Viper provided most of the key metrics needed to optimise marketing campaigns and track performance, looking at the data would sometimes raise more questions than the data could answer. Inevitably, this led to a steady stream of requests to the Data and Insights Team for bespoke SQL queries, which were time-consuming to write and not always an effective use of their time — especially when the query might only be run once.
It seemed likely we were fast approaching ‘peak query requests’, where demand would far outstrip supply and the Data and Insights Team would only have time to produce data at the cost of insight.
I Got the Fever
The promise of a platform that builds complex SQL queries with a few clicks had obvious appeal, but of course there was some scepticism — there always will be when something claims to revolutionise the way we work. However, only two months on, I can’t imagine life without Looker.
As soon as we got our hands on Looker, it was possible to build the Viper reports and go beyond what they could provide. Choosing different ways to ‘slice and dice’ the data is so simple and, because Looker queries the database directly, the outputs are always live. It has allowed the Marketing Team, and other areas of the business, to answer their own data questions, even with no SQL knowledge whatsoever. Now, when the Data team isn’t adding new features to Looker, they are free to spend time on larger, more adventurous projects, which deliver a much bigger business impact.
As well as making data accessible, Looker also has many options for presenting data clearly. As soon as a query has been run, it can be formatted into several graphs, charts, and standalone metrics. These can then be grouped together into dashboards, so that all key metrics can be viewed in one place. Once created, dashboards can be shared throughout the business, so different teams will no longer be looking at different versions of the same metrics and come to different conclusions.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Star
A source of pride for me is having a dashboard that tops the the ‘Popular Dashboards’ section — an easy way to validate that other people are using your dashboards to understand performance better.