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Tableau vs. Looker

June 14, 2023

Business intelligence (BI) is a way of untangling all that beautiful data we’ve collected about our customers, employees, and processes. Businesses today are looking for tools to assist in digesting this data into concise, easy-to-understand analysis that provides a straightforward course of subsequent actions. As you start looking for the right solution to help you and your team analyze your organization’s data, you will find many answers. Let’s start by comparing a couple of the top options on the market today, Tableau vs. Looker.

What to look for in a business intelligence solution?

BI solutions provide vital insights into your organization’s current standing in the marketplace as well as making decisions on future goals. When selecting the solution best for your organization, weigh your decision based on actual needs and functionality within your team. Consider your company’s data analysis needs, technical capabilities, existing infrastructure, and size before making final choices.

Who is Tableau?

Tableau is a powerful business intelligence tool put into service in 2004 by Salesforce. Tableau manages the data flow and turns the data into actionable information. It can create a wide range of visualizations for presenting the data while showcasing the insights interactively.

Who is Looker?

Looker is a data exploration and discovery business intelligence platform founded in 2012 by Lloyd Tabb and Ben Porterfield. Google acquired it in 2019 and is now part of the Google Cloud Platform. Google states that Looker is more than just a BI platform. You can turn to Looker for self-service or governed BI, build your own custom applications with trusted metrics, and bring Looker modeling to your existing BI environment.

How do Tableau and Looker compare?

Tableau is best known for specializing in creative visualization dashboards. You can utilize pre-made dashboard templates or customize them as much as you desire to design a dashboard that meets your specific needs. Tableau is sold on a per-user license basis and suits both small and large businesses’ BI needs.

Looker is best known as a browser-based intelligence software that you can use and operate on any internet-connected mobile device. Looker utilizes LookML modeling language and pre-built Looker Blocks to perform data queries. Looker is sold on a per-month basis that is more expensive than Tableau.

Tableau and Looker are both BI and data analytics solutions with an array of BI tools using advanced Machine Learning (ML) capabilities that help businesses make data-supported decisions efficiently. They both provide versions of cybersecurity controls, documentation, and customer support.

Key Features – Tableau vs. Looker


  • Tableau Dashboard has various visual objects and text elements to tell your data stories and provides multiple views, layouts, and formats using Tableau filters.
  • Collaboration and sharing provide instant data sharing within your team for quick dashboards and data visualization reviews.
  • Live, and In-memory data connect to live data sources or extract data from external sources allowing a user to access data from multiple sources without limitations.
  • Advanced visualizations are a primary feature allowing users to create a variety of data visualizations.
  • Pre-installed map information on cities contain geology layers.
  • Tableau has a foolproof security system utilizing authentication and a permission methodology for user access and data connections.
  • Mobile View provides the ability to create views to be seen on iOS and Android devices.
  • Ask Data allows you to ask your data query using natural question formats with the ability to respond with text or a visual representation as an answer.
  • Trend line and predictive analysis utilize time series forecasting by selecting historical time-stamped data.


  • LookML is a SQL-based language used for data modeling and complex data analysis.
  • Embedded analytics is used to create unique applications or modify existing applications.
  • Integration with Looker Studio allows users to develop reports in ad-hoc or governed data environments, allowing for data analysis in ad-hoc and controlled data environments.
  • Looker Application Programming Interface (API) calls data while providing a secure RESTful API that allows users to create custom applications, workflows, and scripts to automate tasks.
  • Looker (Google Cloud core) is owned by Google and is built on their cloud infrastructure which is available as a service for users to manage their Looker instances.
  • Looker Blocks and Actions are predefined and pre-built code that expedites the development of applications, workflows, and analytics.
  • Looker extension framework helps developers build Looker applications while automatically performing some necessary steps to save time.
  • Looker has a mobile solution for any internet-connected mobile device that users can access using a QR code or biometric authentication.
  • Looker’s security provides authentication and access controls that keep businesses compliant.
  • Looker components allow developers to create filter controls like radio buttons, sliders, and tag lists, which can be embedded in applications or dashboards.

Which is the best BI solution?

In summary, Tableau is advantageous over Looker in the data visualization, management, and preparation categories. Looker’s LookML uses SQL-based language for more complex data analysis and data queries. Your choice of which BI solution best meets your needs will be based on things like – how technical is the person using the platform, how much data are you processing, how flexible and robust does the analysis need to be, is collaboration key within your organization, and how much does it cost?

About Decision Foundry

Decision Foundry is a Salesforce, independent software vendor, managed services provider, and a certified award-winning Salesforce Marketing Cloud integration partner. Decision Foundry closes the gap between data accessibility, platform adoption and business impact. Our consulting services include the integration of Data Cloud, Account, Engagement, Personalization, Tableau, and Intelligence.