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Tellius-Looker analytics partnership enhances powers of both

A partnership between Tellius and Looker will enable users to combine Tellius' AI and machine learning technology with Looker's data modeling and app development capabilities.

Startup analytics vendor Tellius unveiled a partnership with Looker that enables joint users to combine Tellius' augmented intelligence capabilities with the data modeling and application development capabilities of Looker's platform.

Tellius for Looker is now generally available.

Tellius, founded in 2015 and based in Reston, Va., uses AI and machine learning (ML) to enable customers to interact with their data without requiring the expertise of a trained data scientist. Users can query and visualize data using natural language and, beyond that, explain why key performance indicators are behaving in a certain way.

Looker, meanwhile, offers a platform with not only traditional business intelligence capabilities, but also a programming language (LookML) and tools such as Looker Blocks aimed at model development, plus a host of capabilities designed to enable application development and fuel-embedded analytics.

The vendor, founded in in 2012 and based in Santa Cruz, Calif., most recently released Looker 21 in July. That update included the release of Looker's Extension Framework, a platform for developers that includes a software development kit that enables developers to build applications that can be embedded into any workflow, whether inside Looker or an external source.

The partnership

By combining the capabilities of both vendors, joint customers can use Looker's features to build data models and applications and then apply Tellius' AI and ML tools to the models and applications to generate insights and explanations, according to Tellius Founder and CEO Ajay Khanna.

"There's very little overlap," he said. "Customers who are using Looker can develop LookML models, but they are spending a lot of time finding insights. What they can do with Tellius is tap into those models and run machine learning and AI on top of them to get insights and figure out why things are happening."

The reasoning behind the change in an organization's key metric is explained in a sample Tellius dashboard.
A sample Tellius dashboard explains the reason behind a change in an organization's key performance indicator.

Khanna added that Tellius has explored partnerships with other analytics vendors such as Qlik and Tableau, but those other vendors are already developing their own AI and ML capabilities.

Beyond the technological fit for joint Looker and Tellius customers, Tellius itself stands to benefit from the partnership by being exposed to a wider audience of potential customers, according to Donald Farmer, principal of TreeHive Strategy.

Looker is not only a more established vendor than Tellius, but also was acquired by Google in 2019 for $2.6 billion and is now part of the Google Cloud ecosystem.

"For Tellius, [the partnership] is a sound strategy, because they just don't have the resources to reach so many accounts on their own," Farmer said. "In the Looker ecosystem, they can scale their marketing efforts very effectively."

For an enterprise using Looker, Tellius really builds out their capabilities, especially for their most advanced users.
Donald FarmerPrincipal, TreeHive Strategy

Meanwhile, like Khanna, Farmer said Looker and Tellius offer complementary capabilities and are, therefore, a good fit together.

"Looker has focused on usability, embedded scenarios and data-driven workflows, rather than a richer, more complex, analytic environment," Farmer said. "Tellius offers a very complete product with natural language, search-based intelligence and data prep, in addition to its automated machine learning and guided insights."

And those AI capabilities will enable Looker customers to dig deeper into their data and do more advanced data analysis, Farmer continued.

"For an enterprise using Looker, Tellius really builds out their capabilities, especially for their most advanced users," he said.


The partnership between Looker and Tellius took about six months to develop, according to Khanna. And now that the partnership is in place, Tellius is turning its attention to adding ways of examining insights and developing more partnerships.

"We continue to invest in adding different insight capabilities out of the box," Khanna said.

The partnership opportunities, meanwhile, are with cloud data warehouse vendors such as Snowflake and center around enabling users to generate insights within their database.

"A lot of vendors now enable users to run queries within their database -- that's happening -- but we want to go to the next step to not only understand what happened, but get the insights," Khanna said.

Farmer, meanwhile, said that since emerging from stealth in 2018, Tellius has been an innovative vendor and managed to differentiate itself not only from traditional BI vendors, but also those with AI at the core of their platforms.

Tellius differentiates itself with extensive AI capabilities by enabling the full analytics lifecycle, including data preparation, while other vendors generally offer AI capabilities that can only be applied to data that has already been prepared and only for simple BI purposes, he said.

"There's a lot to like about Tellius," Farmer said. "Tellius combines the usability of the best BI tools with the power of some AutoML platforms."

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