blog post

Top 5 Looker Studio Alternatives – And Where They Fall Short

Johan Chemin
September 18, 2023
Top 5 Looker Studio Alternatives – And Where They Fall Short

Formerly known as Google Data Studio, Looker Studio is Google’s Business Intelligence cloud-hosted platform. Entirely free to use and quite effective as a starter BI tool, GDS is however limited in its functions (most notably if your business is at a stage where it requires predictive or advanced analytics). That is why, while GDS remains one of the most popular BI tools, multiple alternatives are giving Google a run for its money on the BI front.

Data studio alternative 1: Looker

Looker Studio

First and foremost, let’s get the company acquired by Google out of the way: Google bought the Looker company out and replaced its household “Google Data Studio” with “Looker Studio”; however, the original Looker app is still kicking! So, let’s see what the separates the two: 

Advantages of Looker

Looker is a powerful solution, backed by Google. In terms of analytics, Looker is quite powerful and allows a certain degree of customization: you can modify your charts and graphs, integrate, explore, and visualize data… Its data modeling capacities are quite advanced and can cover a variety of analytical use cases. Your non-technical teams can also easily create reports from pre-defined set of data. Also of note: Looker’s pre-sale team is very helpful and supportive, remaining by your side throughout the entire initial setup. 

Disadvantages of Looker

Unlike Looker studio, which can be used and consulted by even novice users, Looker is difficult to navigate. You need an expert with in-depth knowledge of Looker. Although it offers ease of adaptation, the need for dedicated data experts (who have learned LookML skills to work with models) to operate the solution means that only large companies can take full advantage of Looker. Also, Looker can only work directly one database per project and does not offer ETL capability. And sadly, while its pre-sale service is stellar, there’s no after-sales service, just a Looker developer portal. So, if you want to align internally or look to develop, you run into a lot more obstacles than real solutions.

Data studio alternative 2: Power BI


And now for Microsoft’s heavy-hitter : PowerBI. Google’s biggest competition in the BI tools market also offers a free version and scalable, increasingly powerful ones. 

Advantages of Power BI

First and foremost: visualizations. Power BI offers a range of attractive visualizations with fully customizable and interactive dashboards that put Google Data Studio to shame. A detail of the utmost importance when you deal in visual information and data visualization. Power BI also automatically updates from cloud-based data sources (a manual process in GDS). Microsoft also throws in 24/7 customer support, which Google doesn’t. Furthermore, it offers advanced data modeling and forecast. 

Disadvantages of Power BI

Unfortunately, Power BI is not the most ergonomic and user-friendly platform by far, your data analysts will also need to learn DAX (Data Analysis Expression) and Power Query M language to use it to its full potential. Google also seems to make more efforts towards compatibility with other environments: Power BI works better with other Microsoft platforms such as Microsoft Edge and Office 365.

Data studio alternative 3: Tableau

Among the Google Data Studio alternatives, Tableau is assuredly the fanciest. It provides business forecasts, strategy analysis and data-driven decision-making. 

Advantages of Tableau

First off, Tableau offers real-time data, whereas you will need to update Google Data Studio manually every time you want the latest information, all while supporting a variety of data connection (database, application, CRM, etc.). Then, Tableau offers a large library of charts and dashboards that can be modified to suit your needs – and are viewable on multiple devices like tablets, mobiles and laptops – a department in which GDS is sorely lacking. Also, the charting and exploration capabilities of Tableau are more sophisticated than GDS’s. Finally, like Power BI, it has an extensive customer department at the ready. 

Disadvantages of Tableau

Tableau’s greatest strength is also its main weakness: while it is beautiful to look at, it focuses primarily on visualization and cannot work with uncleaned data. In order to efficiently use Tableau, you need to do proper data cleaning in the underlying database first. Couple that with the fact that it is an advanced tool for which you need trained data scientists, and you get, like Power BI, a tool that is far from beginner-friendly. Unfortunately for experts, it also lacks some data modeling and data dictionary. It also lacks version control and collaboration when building data logic and dashboard. So you get a tool that is more advanced than GDS, but less-so than Power BI, while however being more beautiful and clean to look at.

Data studio alternative 4: Klipfolio

Klipfolio is another BI tool that connects hundreds of databases, cloud applications and APIs to develop insightful, data-driven marketing reports for your manager or client. 

Advantages of Klipfolio

For starters, Klipfolio offers a report automation feature that enables marketers to create and send reports over the required timeframes (like weekly or monthly). A feature that is missing from GDS. Furthermore, like Power BI and Tableau, it offers customer support to assist with reporting best practices and to resolve any bugs. It also features a white-label function to modify your report to suit your needs. Last but not least, this platform is available as an Agency Starter pack with key features for $54/month, an attractive price for a tool that is more advanced than GDS. 

Disadvantages of Klipfolio

Klipfolio’s measly 300 integrations pale in comparison to GDS’s 600. Also, if you use Google for your entire environment, then GDS can be entirely free to you (if you do not use a lot of connectors). Finally if you require dashboard templates be aware that Klipfolio only offers 12 (to GDS’s 50).

Data studio alternative 5: Geckoboard

Geckoboard will let you create a professional real-time dashboard in a matter of minutes; and its 90+ pre-built integrations will help you connect quickly to your everyday tools. It connects to a plethora of marketing data sources, including Linkedin ads, Salesforce, Google AdSense, Google Ads, Zendesk, YouTube Analytics, and many others. 

Advantages of Geckoboard

Geckoboard can be a very useful tool for marketers who need to manage huge volumes of data and display certain values using basic predefined widgets. It is also easy to use, with a clear and well-designed user interface. It even has Slack integration that goes as far as providing daily/weekly/monthly snapshots to your Slack channels. It also boasts a useful customer support service that resolves bugs and user issues in no time. 

Disadvantages of Geckoboard

Every rose has its thorn however, as Geckoboard is quite expensive: the $49/month plan covers just 1 dashboard. To use 3 dashboards, the price increases to $99/month, whereas Google Data Studio is completely free. Even worse, certain Geckoboard integrations are only accessible with premium plans that cost more than the starting plan. So you may say its “bang for buck ratio” is not as good as the other tools we have listed here.

Which one to choose?

Ultimately, if you are looking to drop GDS for another BI tool, you should be aware that each of those has its own limits. We have listed some of the top tools available to you and features that make them stand out or hold them back. We hope that thanks to this article, you can make a better choice regarding whether to keep using GDS, or opting for the competition.

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