Thoughtspot vs Looker: Data Analytics Showdown

Embedded Analytics
Apr 5, 2024
Thoughtspot vs Looker: Data Analytics Showdown

Having a BI tool in 2024 is no longer nice to have: it’s a necessity if you want actionable insights from data. But as you may know, there are countless vendors out there to choose from. From moguls like Microsoft’s Power BI to specialized solutions like Luzmo, how do you know the right choice for your business and use case?

ThoughtSpot and Looker are commonly compared as two business intelligence tools for businesses looking for data analytics capabilities, dashboards and a variety of visualization options. 

Which one is better for you? We’ll give our unbiased comparison based on real customer reviews.

ThoughtSpot vs Looker: an overview

ThoughtSpot has been around for more than a decade and established itself as a key player in the BI market, netting a good number of enterprise clients. Its power lies in ease of use, (seemingly) transparent pricing, cloud connectivity options and AI-powered analytics. For more information, we have a detailed ThoughtSpot review.

Looker is an advanced business intelligence platform that allows businesses to get data-powered insights and build modern, sleek dashboards. Google purchased Looker in 2019 and it is not to be confused with Looker Studio (previously known as Google Data Studio).

Analytics features

Depending on what your business setup looks like, both tools can be incredibly powerful. 

ThoughtSpot uses AI-powered natural language processing and search to allow all types of users to get insights from data. In theory, it looks like this: you get a dataset, upload it to ThoughtSpot, let it do its magic, and then type a question about that data, hopefully with an answer.

For example: “What is our least used customer support channel in the past quarter, and what is the average lifetime value of a customer reaching out through it?”

In practice, this does not work for advanced analytics. And for ad hoc analysis, it only works if data teams have done the cleaning and data modeling beforehand so that the end user can work with clean, prepared, and structured data.

thoughtspot AI feature review

Looker, on the other hand, has just about every functionality your data team may need to model, analyze and explore your data. To do this, Looker uses something called LookML, their own programming language. You’ll need at least one person in your workspace who is familiar with this language to get the most out of Looker.

In other words, both tools have great usability, but there is more to it than meets the eye. To get maximum benefit from features such as natural language search and Looker’s customization options, you need additional manpower with knowledge of these tools and languages.

Looker vs ThoughtSpot: visualizations

ThoughtSpot offers a wide range of visualizations to support its users in turning raw data into actionable insights. The choice is varied, from traditional charts, graphs, histograms and scatter plots to more modern options such as word clouds. Compared to giants such as Power BI or Tableau, the choice of visualizations is not as wide, but it’s more than enough for a user-friendly interface.

thoughtspot dashboard

On the other hand, Looker wins this category on two accounts. First, it has an extensive selection of visualizations to start with, similar to Tableau. Second, Looker’s visualizations offer unparalleled customization options. If you have a capable team of data analysts, you can create detailed dashboards with drill-down features, helping you make data-driven decisions faster.

looker dashboard

For internal use cases, this is an advantage, but for self-service analytics in embedded systems, it’s a downside. The user can get confused by the level of detail, which can actually halt their decision-making process.

Embedded analytics

If you want to add data visualization options to your SaaS app or website, you’ll be happy to know that both ThoughtSpot and Looker can be embedded with relative ease.

ThoughtSpot’s embedded dashboards are pretty easy to embed as it’s just about copying and pasting just a few lines of code. The end users get real-time access to key metrics in the form of engaging visualizations. And this is where the problem starts.

User reviews claim that the dashboards often break and the user experience is just not intuitive. Compared to internal dashboards accessed within the app, the interface is clunky. Zooming in and out, changing dimensions and metrics and similar actions are not as handy as they should be.

On the other hand, Looker’s embedded analytics may also present issues for your data analytics team. First of all, you need a working knowledge of LookML, their proprietary programming language, to successfully embed a dashboard into any environment.

The second issue is that Looker was primarily built for internal reporting and data analysis, where speed is not so important. Embedded dashboards can take a long time to load for business users on the website or in the app, which can cause frustration.

Integrations and data sources

Thoughtspot has a rich set of data sources and connectors you can use for setting up and building dashboards and visualizations. Leading cloud data platforms are supported, such as Amazon Redshift, Oracle, Databricks, Teradata, and others.

When it comes to business apps, ThoughtSpot supports Salesforce, Hubspot, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoho, Google Sheets and others.

One major benefit of Looker is its native integration with the Google Cloud ecosystem. But there is more to it because Looker has connectors with just about all the tools you may ever need. There are database integrations with PostgreSQL, MySQL, Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, Snowflake, and others.

Then there are ETL and data pipeline tools like Fivetran, Stitch, and Segment, as well as CRMs like Salesforce, Hubspot, and Marketo, among others. And to top it all off, the Looker API lets your developers build custom integrations.

In terms of connectors and data sources, Looker is the clear winner.

The pricing

To find out how much ThoughtSpot costs, simply head to their website to see the different ThoughtSpot pricing plans. If you need data modeling, data exploration, reporting and dashboards for internal use, prices start at $95 per month, or $1,250 per month for more data rows. The main ThoughtSpot pricing is very transparent.

Embedded analytics, on the other hand, is pretty complex. You get charged for querying data, which means that every time someone opens a dashboard, you have to pay ThoughtSpot a few bucks.

On the other hand, figuring out how much Looker costs is like a wild goose chase. This BI solution is notorious for hiding its pricing and forcing you to talk to sales to get a quote. Various sources state that the most basic package will set you back more than $35,000 per year.

Which is the better data analytics platform?

It depends on your needs and budgets.

If you’re looking for user-friendly data analytics with good visualizations and affordable pricing, ThoughtSpot is the better choice. While the AI feature doesn’t live up to its promises, the overall ease of use and feature set make ThoughtSpot a good option for smaller businesses.

Looker is incredibly powerful in just about every aspect. It has advanced analytics features, an immense choice of visualizations, and countless ways to explore your data once it’s visualized. However, it comes at a very steep price, both for the tool and for an additional set of hands, since you’ll need someone who knows LookML. 

It’s a ThoughtSpot competitor for larger businesses with advanced internal reporting needs.

For embedded analytics, neither tool is great. ThoughtSpot is expensive and buggy, while Looker is overly complex and slow.

Instead, get Luzmo. Our embedded analytics platform is easy to use and any developer with the basic coding knowledge can embed a dashboard within a few hours. It’s fully customizable and it looks like a part of your app with a few small tweaks. Your end-users get a superb user experience, accessing their data in real time. The pricing is transparent and easy to understand.

luzmo for embedded analytics

What are you waiting for? Grab your free demo today!

Mile Zivkovic

Mile Zivkovic

Senior Content Writer

Mile Zivkovic is a content marketer specializing in SaaS. Since 2016, he’s worked on content strategy, creation and promotion for software vendors in verticals such as BI, project management, time tracking, HR and many others.

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