Looker vs Tableau - Which BI Tool is Better?

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Looker VS. Tableau - The Detailed Comparison
Updated on 14th Jun, 23 8.8 K Views

In this blog post, we’ll compare Looker and Tableau in detail, covering features, pricing, ease of use, integration capabilities, customer support, and more, to help you choose the right BI tool for your business.

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What is Looker?

Looker is a business intelligence application that assists firms in making data-driven decisions. It enables users to examine and analyze enormous volumes of data from numerous sources, as well as generate bespoke reports and dashboards.

Looker gains its reputation from its modeling layer that empowers users to create personalized metrics and dimensions, while also enabling the conversion of raw data into meaningful insights. In the year 2020, Google Cloud acquired Looker, thus incorporating it into the Google Cloud Platform.

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What is Tableau?

Tableau is a data visualization tool that facilitates the creation of interactive reports, dashboards, and visualizations, eliminating the requirement for coding. Users can effortlessly incorporate data from spreadsheets, databases, and cloud data warehouses onto the dashboard through a simple drag-and-drop mechanism.

This intuitive interface allows both technical and non-technical team members to build engaging and informative visuals that convey data stories. Tableau supports connections to software platforms like Salesforce, SAP and AWS, extending its usefulness. 

It is available in two formats: a desktop app for individuals and a cloud-based service for larger enterprises. Both options provide easy, self-service data exploration and sharing functionalities that facilitate faster data-driven decisions. 

Tableau is a popular choice among firms looking to improve their utilization of data insights due to its simplicity as well as its powerful visualization and collaboration options.

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Features and Functionality

Features and Functionality

Looker is a better fit when you need to perform complex calculations and data blending to derive insights, while Tableau is ideal when the primary goal is data storytelling and quick visualization of existing data. 

Looker focuses more on the analysts creating the insights, while Tableau focuses more on the end consumers. Both are useful tools in a business intelligence stack.

  • Looker
    • Focused on Data Modeling – Looker offers sophisticated data modeling functionalities that empower users to convert unprocessed data into organized metrics and dimensions. This data modeling layer is instrumental in enabling Looker to deliver profound insights derived from the data.
    • Better for Analysis – The utilization of Looker’s data models and embedded logic renders it highly adept for intricate computations, data amalgamation, and comprehensive examinations.
    • Takes More Work to Set up – The initial setup and data modeling in Looker requires more time and effort, but eventually pays off in the insights it enables.
  • Tableau
    • Easy to Use Interface – Tableau’s drag-and-drop interface allows users to quickly build visualizations and dashboards with minimal training.
    • Better for Visualization – Tableau excels at presenting data visually through interactive dashboards and reports. It is a good option when the main goal is visualization over-analysis.
    • Quick Setup – Tableau has the capability to establish connections with various data sources, enabling users to promptly commence the visualization of data. The absence of intricate data modeling procedures is a notable advantage in this regard.

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Ease of Use

Both tools have their place Looker for in-depth analysis by experts, and Tableau for self-service visualization across an organization. The important factor is choosing the tool that best matches your specific needs and user profiles.

  • Looker
    • Requires Learning the Modeling Layer – The data modeling approach in Looker means users have to learn how to create custom dimensions and metrics. This has a learning curve and initial setup time.
    • Streamlines Future Work – Once users understand the modeling layer, they can easily create new dimensions and metrics to answer different questions from the data.
    • Better for Power Users – The modeling approach works best for analysts, data scientists and other power users who want flexibility and control over the insights.
  • Tableau
    • Intuitive Drag-and-Drop Interface – Users can immediately start visualizing data by dragging fields onto the canvas, without any modeling.
    • Quick Ramp-up – Most users can create basic visualizations within minutes, with little to no training.
    • Easy for Casual Users – The simplicity of Tableau makes it accessible for a wider range of users, from analysts to managers.

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It depends on your specific needs if you require robust features from the start, Looker’s all-inclusive model may be worthwhile.  Tableau’s free or low-cost tiers are a good cost-effective  option, if you are just getting started. As your needs grow, you can then upgrade Tableau’s premium plan.

  • Looker
    • Higher Starting Price – Looker’s lowest pricing plan starts at $3,000 per month for 10 users. This is significantly higher than Tableau’s starter plans.
    • Includes all Features – Since Looker has a higher base price, it includes unlimited access to all of Looker’s data modeling, analysis and reporting features.
    • Unlimited Data Storage – Looker’s pricing covers unlimited data storage and queries. This is included in the baseline cost.
  • Tableau
    • Lower Starting Price – Tableau offers pricing plans starting as low as $12 per user per month for the Creator plan.
    • Tiered Plans – Tableau has different pricing tiers based on the requirements of various levels of features; the higher tiers are more expensive.
    • Additional Costs for Extras – Things like advanced data sources, live connections and larger data volumes can incur additional costs on top of the per-user price.

Integration Capabilities

Integration Capabilities

Both tools provide robust integration options, with Looker arguably offering more flexibility due to its data modeling approach. The choice depends on your specific integration needs and which tools you want to combine data from.

  • Looker
    • Connects to Various Data Sources – Looker can connect to databases, data warehouses, spreadsheets, and other data sources to access and model data.
    • Broad Range of Integrations – Looker offers integrations with tools like Salesforce, Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, Marketo, Mixpanel, and others for data blending and insights.
    • API Integrations – Looker has APIs that allow it to integrate with both open-source and enterprise applications.
  • Tableau
    • Connects to Multiple Data Sources – Like Looker, Tableau can connect to spreadsheets, databases, cloud data warehouses and other sources.
    • Integrates with Popular Tools – Tableau integrates with software like Salesforce, Google Analytics, Excel, SAP, and AWS to enable data sharing and visualization.
    • API Integrations Available – Tableau also offers API integrations for custom solutions.

The key difference is the breadth of integrations Looker partners with a wider range of tools and platforms due to its focus on data-driven insights. Tableau’s integrations mainly focus on tools that can benefit from its data visualization capabilities.

Career Transition

Customer Support

The type of support that best fits your needs depends on your budget and preferences. If you prefer more hands-on guidance, especially in the beginning, Looker’s engaged customer success model may be a better fit. Tableau’s multiple lower-cost support options may work better for more self-sufficient users.

  • Looker
    • 24/7 Support for Critical Issues – Looker provides round-the-clock phone and email support for the highest priority issues to minimize disruption.
    • Customer Success Manager – Looker assigns a dedicated customer success manager to each customer to help them maximize the value. This includes guidance, best practices, and troubleshooting.
    • Phone and Email Support – In addition to 24/7 support for critical issues, Looker provides regular phone and email support during business hours for non-critical issues.
  • Tableau
    • Multiple Support Options – Tableau offers support via phone, email, online self-help resources and community forums. There is no dedicated 24/7 customer support service.
    • Paid Support Plans – Tableau offers various paid support plans with different levels of priority support and response times.
    • Online Resources and Community – Tableau provides knowledge base articles, documentation, tutorials and an active user community forum.


Finally, Looker and Tableau are both prominent business intelligence applications that provide a variety of features and capabilities for data visualization, reporting, and analysis. The modeling layer of Looker allows for additional customization, although Tableau’s drag-and-drop interface is simple to use. Although Looker’s cost is higher, it includes limitless data storage and access to all functions.

Tableau is less expensive, however, it may not have as many features as Looker. Finally, the decision between Looker and Tableau will be based on your company’s unique requirements. It is critical to carefully assess each tool and select the one that best matches your company’s demands.

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