Santa Cruz Tech Beat


The Rise of The Instrumented Workplace

By Frank Bien
Looker CEO

October 3, 2017 — Santa Cruz, CA

Last year at JOIN, Looker’s annual data conference, I talked about the three waves of BI.

The first wave started 30 years ago with monolithic stacks that were reliable but inflexible. You could only get answers to specific questions, but you could trust those answers. It was also the era of the data rich and the data poor, where those without access to data starved as they waited for someone to finally have time to help them.

That frustration led to the second wave: a revolution toward self-service tools where users grabbed whatever data they could lay their hands on and threw it into data cleansing, blending, and visualization tools for analysis. But that revolution came at a cost. Scattered tools created a mess of silos that didn’t talk to each other, and you lost the ability to speak in a common language with anyone else at your company. Enter data chaos.

Today, we’re in the third wave of business intelligence: the era of the data platform. In this new era, databases are fast so data can stay where it is, and users can begin to access whatever data they need, from one central source of truth that provides a shared language for the entire company. One platform, one tool…no more waiting, no more hunger for data, and no more chaos.

From What to Why

At this year’s JOIN conference we went deeper on the “Why”.

Why does this new wave matter?

Because this new wave, the third wave, is allowing companies to finally create data culture.

“Data culture” is a term we hear a lot. It describes the idea of everyone in an organization using data to make informed decisions rather than guesses based on a hunch or loud opinion. I remember talking to our first customers and they were telling us “Looker is changing our culture, we’re building a real culture based on data.” I turned to Lloyd, Founder and CTO of Looker, and I said, “We can never tell anyone that. People are going to think we’re crazy.”

But our customers kept telling us about this culture shift, and sure enough, we’ve actually seen it become real.

It’s becoming real because data is changing. It’s shifting from something that is used by pockets of the company to become something that is relied on throughout the organization. Data is finally driving conversations and decisions everywhere.

So what changed? How has the third wave changed cultures?

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