Looker vs Tableau: Only Comparison Article You Need

Data visualization is an essential process for SaaS businesses. Whether you are trying to understand your strengths and weaknesses or looking for ways to enhance your product/service, data visualization should be your first stop. With tools that focus on business intelligence and powerful data visualization, such as Looker and Tableau, you can collect, display, and analyze data with ease and measure product success.

In this article, we will look at two of the most well-known data visualization platforms on the market and compare them to find the best one for your business.

What’s Looker?

Looker is a well-known business intelligence (BI) platform that helps you develop and manage data visualizations. Google acquired it at the beginning of 2020 with the hopes of making Google cloud an easier and more accessible place for its customers.

With Looker, you can customize visuals, collaborate dashboards, and collect accurate data. Its unique language enables you to use the tool to its fullest potential. It is also completely browser-based, eliminating the need for desktop software.

In General, Looker is an excellent tool for basic data visualization. It makes data easily accessible throughout your business, allowing open and precise communication.

What’s Tableau?

Tableau is an interactive data visualization software that focuses on business intelligence. In other words, it collects data and turns them into actionable insights. Similar to Google, Salesforce acquired Tableau in 2019, which was one of the company’s most significant acquisitions.

Tableau is an intuitive platform that offers elegant and hyper-realistic visuals for understanding and analyzing data. It helps you take data-driven action while also allowing you clearly see your weaknesses and strengths. It uses relational databases, online analytical processing cubes, cloud databases, and spreadsheets to create graph-type visuals. In addition, Tableau can select, store, and save data from an in-memory data engine.

Similarities Between Looker and Tableau

Document Management

Both Looker and Tableau are excellent tools that convert data to useful information. They collect and similarly manage data. While Looker can convert reports into TXT, CSV, JSON, HTML, and PNG (also Google Spreadsheets and Microsoft Excel), Tableau can export reports as PDFs, spreadsheet files, images, and crosstabs.

These features allow sharing among different parts of a business, cultivating collaboration and communication. There are no huge differences in document management,t and with both of the tools, you can format and distribute your reports easily and quickly.

Audience

Both tools are compatible with medium and large enterprises since they can manage large datasets. Even though Tableau is a sophisticated tool, it offers various features that a medium-size business needs for growth. It is also a little bit better at handling large datasets than how Looker handles it. Therefore, it is an excellent choice for large enterprises.

Similar to Tableau, Looker can serve both medium and large enterprises. However, it is also compatible with small businesses looking for a foundational tool for data visualization.

Dashboards

BI dashboards are where you can control your data, manage your visuals, and extract information. It is pretty easy to manipulate datasets within the dashboards with both tools. You can quickly analyze data by manipulating it and generating clear, accurate, and precise visuals.

A point worth mentioning is that Tableau offers a drag and drop visual editor that allows you to get feedback in real-time, which is a great advantage. On the other hand, even though Looker does not offer such a feature for its dashboards, with Looker, you can set up data for dashboards within several team spaces. This enables data to be available for every team to manipulate and use.

Looker Dashboard From Looker
Tableau Dashboard from Tableau

Differences Between Looker and Tableau

Data Visualization

It is not easy to compare Looker and Tableau when it comes to visualization and display of visuals. However, some minor differences might help you to decide.

While Looker offers basic and straightforward data visualization, Tableau offers more elaborate and detailed visuals. Therefore, with Looker, you can customize graphs and other types of visuals, such as customer experience mapping, that are easy to understand and analyze. However, with Tableau, you can generate elegant and valuable graphs. In other words, Tableau is more sophisticated than Looker by just looking at visualization.

The difference in visualization is a choice of preference because it doesn’t necessarily indicate which tool is the best one.

Analytics

Looker has an advantage in data analysis because of its unique code blocks, Looker Blocks. These are the foundation of Looker’s analytics, including data models, SQL patterns, and data visualization. Looker Blocks can be customized according to your needs and preferences. These exclusive and pre-built blocks make Looker a powerful data analytics tool. However, the main downside is that Looker tries to work around OLAP (Online Analytical Processing), which is why you cannot use Looker for companies that require OLAP. Looker tries to solve this gap by offering custom solutions for data examination, but Tableau should be your first choice if OLAP is irreplaceable.

On the other hand, Tableau does not offer pre-built code blocks like Looker Blocks. However, it provides many data manipulation, forecasting, and queries opportunities. It can also work with large datasets without a problem. In addition, it works well with OLAP since it offers OLAP cubes that help you examine data easily, smoothly, and quickly.

Integrations

Both tools offer various integrations with essential software that allows their customers to use the tools and their products to their fullest potential. One main difference is that since Looker is connected to Google cloud, it can smoothly integrate with almost all Google products/applications. This is a huge advantage if your product is dependent on some of the Google integrations and/or you prefer to work with Google applications.

On the other hand, Tableau also offers some integrations with Google products, but it is not as much as Looker, and it also cannot access the Google Cloud. However, Tableau has an impressive list of integrations scattered through different businesses.

Looker vs Tableau: Pricing

Looker Pricing

Looker doesn’t disclose its price plans on its website. To create a tailor-made price plan, you need to request a quote (and contact a sales representative). According to third parties, even though there is no information about price plans, a default ten users plan starts from $3,000 – $5,000 per month.

Google Cloud Data Analytics - Summary of launches, announcements and  customer stories from Next | Google Cloud Blog
From Google Cloud

Tableau Pricing

Tableau offers price plans in three categories: Teams & Organizations, Individual, and Embedded Analytics. For Teams & Organizations, you can choose from Creator, Explorer, and Viewer plans and decide whether you will deploy with Tableau Online or Tableau Server. Each price plan contains all the basics of Tableau features. However, the Creator price plan is the most extensive one, offering several different solutions and tools. Creator, Explorer, and Viewer cost $70, $40, and $15 user/month (billed annually) consecutively for deploying with Tableau Online. If you choose Tableau Server, the price plans are slightly cheaper.

Unfortunately, for individuals, Tableau only offers the Creator price plan, which is again $70 user/month (billed annually). For Embedded Analytics, there is no fixed price plan. You need to request a quote (and contact a sales representative) to learn more about the plans. According to third parties, even though there is no information about price plans, a default ten users plan starts from $3,000 – $5,000 per month.

For Teams & Organizations From Tableau
For Teams & Organizations From Tableau

Looker vs Tableau: Ease of use

Both Looker and Tableau are tools that are easy to learn and adapt. There is no distinct winner when compared according to their ease of use. However, users most often indicate that Looker is more intuitive and user-friendly than Tableau. Looker’s UI is designed to be understood by all types of audiences. Therefore, whether you are a data analyst or a startup owner, with Looker, you can easily create visuals and analyze data.

On the other hand, since Tableau offers a more sophisticated visualization, it requires more effort and time. Therefore, it is better for data analysts or people who really know how to handle and display data. However, still, its UI is simple, straightforward, and efficient.

Looker vs Tableau: Reviews

Looker Reviews

With an overall 4.6 stars on Capterra out of 141 reviews, Looker mostly liked by its users:

From Capterra

“Overall, my experience was positive. It houses all are our data and works much like a pivot table in creating reports and visuals.”

“Looker is incredibly easy to use for a casual user, which most of our users are. As soon as your email is activated, you have access to the product and new users need a very little direction to start getting value out of it.”

“Modeling platform which allows me to codify data visualization using a proprietary modeling language. The self-service visualization tools allow end users to access the benefits of data analysis. Looker has one of the best user interface on market very easy to use and in my organisation it very useful because it saves time and costs of training.”

There were also some negative comments:

“Sometimes it lags when using big data sets, so it takes some time to render the complete report. When building a report dimensions search also get some lag.”

“When modeling views, I wish you could define better filters for measures but it’s limited. There are workarounds, meaning modeling out several additional dimensions to arrive at the measure you need to pull regularly, but it’d be much more efficient to allow for measures to be more nuanced.”

“Can get a bit confusing and confining with more complex queries/analysis. Machine written SQL can be annoying.”

Tableau Reviews

Tableau got an overall 4.5 stars out of 1560 reviews on Capterra, which most of the users were satisfied with the tool:

From Capterra

“We use Tableau for weekly review of metrics within the healthcare setting and love the ability to quickly review our stats. The software is clean and efficient.”

“The program is powerful and robust and the reports that can be generated are nice enough that they can be given to the client.”

“The ease of use and availability of learning resources. Tableau is intuitive and you are able to understand how it works very early in your learning. When you do get stuck, Tableau has an amazing forum where other Tableau users are willing to help you learn.”

On the other hand, some negative reviews mentioned:

“Tableau can be quite slow when working with larger datasets. Also, although Tableau has great visualizations for data, I feel there needs to be more statistical functionalities to be able to derive better and more in-depth insights from data.”

“The three biggest drawbacks to our organization continuing with Tableau were ease of use, cost scalability, and functional scalability. Tableau is not the tool for organizations that lack technical resources. It’s not as “plug and play” as other options on the market and requires significant training of architects to fully take advantage of all its capabilities.”

“Setting up dashboard was quite complex and required at least BI analyst effort.”

A Better Way To Visualize Your Data: HockeyStack

HockeyStack is an end-to-end analytics tool for SaaS companies. It unifies marketing, revenue, sales, and product data into one dashboard with no code so that you can understand what really drives revenue at your SaaS. It’s completely no code, and it doesn’t require any setup.

HockeyStack’s Features

Step-by-step user journey

HockeyStack allows you to access every single users’ whole journey without spending your valuable time on video replays. You can filter your users with every single session and user property, including LTV, job title, goals, segments, clicks, etc.

Custom dashboards

You can build custom dashboards using every revenue, product, sales, and marketing data you have using HockeyStack. We also have a template gallery inside our dashboard to inspire you.

Sales + Product Dashboard

Funnels and goals

An analytics tool cannot be complete without funnels and goals. What makes HockeyStack special is you don’t need any coding knowledge to set up your funnels & goals.

Product + RevOps Dashboard

Surveys

HockeyStack is really the complete package for your SaaS. You can create visually appealing surveys to get honest feedback from your customers, including churn, NPS, and pricing surveys.

We also have a wide variety of questions types that you can choose from, and surveys are completely free for everyone!

Revenue analytics

By connecting your Paddle/Stripe account with one click, you can use HockeyStack as a revenue analytics tool for free! Setup every single revenue analytics dashboard you need + better understand what affects your revenue.

HockeyStack Pricing

HockeyStack has a free forever plan and 3 paid plans. Paid plans have a 14-day trial with a 30-day refund guarantee.

You can check out the pricing page here.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2021-12-01-at-22.49.46-1024x482.png
From HockeyStack

HockeyStack Summary

The unique benefit of HockeyStack is its ability to unify your marketing, revenue, sales, and product data using no code. This allows you to uncover unique insights that you wouldn’t be able to by using multiple tools as they cause you to have fragmented data.

  1. You can integrate with Stripe, Paddle, and Hubspot and build every single dashboard that you can think of, using all sales, marketing, revenue, and product metrics.
  2. You can create funnels, goals, and surveys, which are rare to get with other tools on this list.
  3. You don’t need any developers, tracking is cookieless, and the script is small, so it doesn’t increase your site loading time.

Conclusion

Looker and Tableau are both excellent tools for data visualization focused on BI. They help you manage and organize your data and generate insightful graphs for understanding these data. While Looker uses Looker Blocks for analytics and has a more user-friendly UI, Tableau creates more comprehensive reports and visuals and gets help from OLAP cubes. To choose between these two tools, you need to consider your needs and preferences and determine your priorities. You may also need to look for other alternatives that are better suited for your product/service.

Overall, both tools are great in data visualization. The choice, therefore, is determined by what you need and prefer.

FAQ

Is Tableau good for SaaS?

Yes, it is. Tableau offers robust and comprehensive data visualization that focuses on BI.

Does Looker have a free plan available?

Looker does not disclose its price plans to the public. You need to contact a sales representative to get a customized plan according to your needs and preferences. However, you can request a free demo, in which you can observe how Looker works and what it offers you.

Is Looker more expensive than Tableau?

Looker does not disclose its price plans to the public since each plan is tailor-made for a customer. The third parties indicate that the default 10 users plan starts from $3,000 – $5,000.

Is Looker hard to learn?

Looker has an intuitive and user-friendly UI, which helps you to easily adapt to the product and use it to its fullest potential. Therefore, it is necessarily not hard to learn it. However, for some features coding knowledge is required, so if you don’t know the specific coding language, LookML (SQL), you might need a little more time to get used to the product.

🚀

Uncover What Drives Revenue For Your SaaS

đź’¸