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Review of Google Data Studio 360 (Beta)

At Excella, one of our goals in the BI Specialty Area is to evaluate new entrants into the BI tools market so that we can make the best recommendation based on client needs. This month, we put the highly anticipated Google Data Studio 360 beta to the test. The Launch of Google Data Studio 360 […]

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November 22, 2016

At Excella, one of our goals in the BI Specialty Area is to evaluate new entrants into the BI tools market so that we can make the best recommendation based on client needs. This month, we put the highly anticipated Google Data Studio 360 beta to the test.

The Launch of Google Data Studio 360

In 2016, Google announced the launch of Google Analytics 360 Suite. One of the tools offered in the suite is Data Studio 360, which is currently in beta mode. Data Studio is a visualization and reporting tool that allows users to connect to multiple data sources to create, collaborate and share data visualizations within an organization. In addition, a free version of Data Studio 360 is available for individuals and small teams and anyone with a Google account can try it out for free for up to 5 reports.

For this evaluation, we used the criteria from our BI Tool Evaluation Matrix and experimented with Data Studio to break down the features and see how it performs. Below are our findings:

Evaluation Criteria
Installation

Installation is not necessary for Data Studio since it is a web-based visualization tool. Anyone with a Google account and a browser can access Data Studio 360 to create and share visualizations.

User Interface

The user interface will look familiar to someone who has used Google Docs/Sheets. The web-based interface is intuitive and the icons are presented in an organized and simple way that does not overwhelm new BI users.

Data Connectors

The tool can connect to Google AdWords, Google Attribution 360, Google BigQuery, Google Cloud SQL, Google Analytics, Google Sheets, MySQL and YouTube Analytics data sources.

Data Blending Capabilities

A report can be created with multiple data sources in Data Studio; however, it does not appear to have any data blending capability yet. For example, you can add multiple data sources to a report and create visualizations using those data sources, but each chart of the graph would only pull data from one of those two data sources.

Chart Types

Limited chart types are available, as users are only able to choose from line graph, bar chart, pie chart, table, geo map, scorecard, scatter plot, bullet chart, and area chart. Treemaps, heat maps, combination charts and box-and-whisker chart have not been made available.

Data Filters & Drilldown

Filter control and date range allow users to filter the data and dynamically update the visualization(s) while interacting with the pages.

Data Manipulation

Users are provided with the ability to create calculations using existing fields; a list of functions is also available for more advanced calculated fields. The list of Data Studio functions can be viewed here:

Mobility

According to the Data Studio updates page, fixed report viewing has been made available as of July 2016; however, we were not able to open these pages on a mobile device while we were testing this feature.

Security

An author can either allow other Google users to view or edit their reports/dashboards.

Sharing/Collaboration/Storage

Like Google Docs/Sheets, Data Studio pages can also be shared easily. Users who are allowed to edit reports/dashboards can collaborate simultaneously and changes are seen in real-time. All reports are stored in Google drive.

A shareable link can be downloaded for each page of the report, and anyone with the link can either view or edit the page(s) depending on the settings made by the author

Print & Export

Data Studio currently does not provide users with the ability to print or export a report to PDF or other formats.

Training and User Community Support – Google has published a small number of video tutorials. The link can also be found on the home page of Google Data Studio beta. As of now, Data Studio does not appear to have a community given its recent launch and its early adoption period.
Things You Should Know

Filter controls – Filter controls are applied to all visualizations on a page by default. However, the default can be changed by grouping the filter control(s) with the desired visualization(s) together.

Auto Select Dimensions and Measures – Each visualization auto-selects the dimension and measures by default. They can be updated by highlighting the desired visualization in edit mode and changing the dimension and measures under the “data” tab.

Auto-Save – Like Google Docs, the changes made to the pages in Data Studio are saved automatically.

Bulk Copy/Paste Visualizations – Unlike other BI tools on the market, Data Studio allows users to select, copy and paste one or multiple visualizations so that users can leverage existing content to increase productivity and save time.

Data Connectors – As of now, all of the data connectors are made for Google sources.

Report Limit – Each user account can only create up to 5 reports using the free version of Data Studio.

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Final Thoughts

While Google offers a free BI solution with some unique features, Data Studio 360 is still not ready to compete with leading BI tools like Tableau, PowerBI, and Qlik. The limited data connectors may also drive away users who are not currently using Google products. Though Data Studio allows users to add multiple data sources to a report, the lack of data blending/joining capability by common field(s) presents challenges to users who need to report data from multiple data sources in the same chart. The security features of the tool will also need to be expanded to add row and column level restrictions. Despite the shortcomings, it is important to remember that this is a tool that was just released six months ago. Google is a large company with enormous resources and it is likely that it will just be a matter of time before additional features are released. We look forward to comparing a more complete version of Data Studio with other BI tools on the market in the coming months.

If there are other tools you would like us to evaluate, contact us and let us know.

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