Use cases for Looker Action Hub: working beyond Looker within Looker at Elevate Labs & Alto

Elena Rowell, Product Marketing at Looker

Jun 18, 2020

Looker’s platform offers a unified surface to access the truest, most up-to-date version of your company’s data. With this unified view into the business, you can choose or design the experience that makes the most sense for what your users need. For many companies this includes making actionable insights available to users where they’re working. In this blog I’ll talk about going beyond insights that are action-oriented and creating experiences that actually facilitate insight-driven actions.

Looker’s Action Hub enables customers to magnify the impact of unified, governed data by sending data to, and taking action in, systems outside of Looker.

In this blog, I’ll break down three powerful uses for the Action Hub:

  1. Securely and reliably send governed data to other systems
  2. Trigger workflows in other systems based on unified metrics in Looker
  3. Bring routine tasks into Looker to close the loop between insight & action

Use case #1: Securely and reliably send governed data to other systems

Once you’ve implemented Looker, the data you’ve modeled and made available to end users (CRM data, transactional data, etc.) can also be programmatically shared with other systems. This means all your company’s data, plus the value added by the model in Looker — custom metrics, normalized data, joined data sets, etc. — can be leveraged by other tools people rely on.

As an example of how this works, let’s look at how Elevate Labs shares complex subscription metrics with their customer engagement platform, Braze, to better target customer segments based on their unique customer journey.

Analyzing, communicating and marketing smarter with Looker Actions

Elevate Labs is a personalized brain training app that helps people build communication and analytical skills.

Within the app, events fire-off based on the user’s journey, such as starting or completing a game, or converting to a paid subscription. This information is sent to Braze where the Elevate Team can create custom segments of users and tailor their communications to those segments. But while their app sends things like “converted to paid user” directly to Braze, more complex subscription metrics like “up for renewal in 1 month” or “canceled 2 months ago” need to come from the backend system of the app. To do this, they were looking at significant engineering overhead to build and maintain a connection between the backend system and Braze. This is where Looker and the Action Hub came in.

Elevate had already implemented Looker, so the more complex subscription definitions were easy to pull together. Once they implemented the Braze Action, the Marketing Team simply built out lists of the different user types — up for renewal in 1 month — in Looker, then scheduled the sync. No engineering resources necessary.

Beyond their subscription data, the Marketing Team can also segment user data based on trials, discounts, and other parameters, helping Elevate better identify, target, and communicate with specific audiences.

In a nutshell, the Braze Action allows Elevate to create personal, segmented marketing communications by taking the detailed segments from their business intelligence tool (Looker) and applying it to marketing communications through Braze.

Bonus tip

Other popular uses for these types of actions are tagging custom cohorts in Segment, feeding prediction models in Data Robot or Auger. AI, and refreshing lists in Google Sheets.

Use case #2: Trigger workflows in other systems based on unified metrics in Looker

Looker’s in-database architecture and semantic data model work together to give everyone at a company access to data that is as up-to-date as your warehouse and as accurate as your analysts’ understanding of the data. This means that workflows that are time sensitive or require high levels of accuracy can be triggered from Looker.

Saving time and driving for success with Actions

Launched in 2018, Alto is a Dallas-based on-demand ride-hailing and delivery service that allows users to book on-demand rides and deliveries. Different from similar services in their space, Alto stands apart because of their team of professional drivers and a company-owned fleet of branded SUVs.

In an urban area like Dallas, driving conditions and user requests change frequently, which means their Operations Team also needs to be able to adjust on the fly. To do this, Alto uses the Action Hub to notify the Operations Team about incidents or issues in Slack. Within Slack, the team can discuss the problem in real-time, determine a solution, and reach out to drivers and riders as needed.

For example, if a ride takes longer than usual to complete, Looker notifies the team in Slack so they can investigate and discuss the situation.

Alto has also implemented the Twilio Action for quickly sending customers SMS updates. So had the ETA of the vehicle in the above example changed, all Alex would have needed to do is go into Looker and send the customer the pre-populated text message with the updated ETA.

The integration saves Alto time and upholds the company’s reputation for impeccable service. Plus, it frees up capacity for Alto’s Development Team to focus on new initiatives like vehicle telematics to facilitate next-generation fleet diagnostics, optimization, and driver performance management.

Bonus tip

Other popular uses for these types of actions are triggering emails to top leads with Marketo as well as kicking off workflows in countless tools with Tray.io or Zapier

Use case #3: Bring routine tasks into Looker to close the loop between insight and action

Tool-specific actions effectively bypass the need to go back and forth between Looker and other tools when you’re performing routine tasks. It’s a boon to productivity.

Two popular use cases for these are for one-off external communications and for project management.

Action-enabled communications

When things change that affect a customer’s expectation — think a delayed product order or delay in service — it’s important to quickly communicate that change and provide as much transparency as possible to the customer. Text messages are a great way to do this efficiently and in a timely manner. And because the Actions for Twilio and SendGrid were made with this in mind, sending one-off SMS messages and emails from within Looker are just a few clicks away.

Project management

Many customers use Looker to monitor the progress of their projects. As the project progresses and tasks are completed, Looker will send an alert to the people on the team in charge of moving the project forward. Project managers can then go into Looker, make sure everything is set to go for the next step, and then move the project forward with Action tools like Airtable.

Where to get started with Actions

It’s easy to access. When you’re in Looker, click on the “Admin” dropdown. Under “Platform,” click on “Actions” to access Action Hub.

From here, you’ll be able to use any of the integrations available today. And since Action Hub is an open-source project, we encourage you to host your own Action Hub and create custom Actions of your own.

If you’re a SaaS product provider and you think Looker would integrate well with your product, reach out to the Looker Marketplace Team at marketplace@looker.com. As we like to say, “The more we can make community work together, the better off everybody is.”

Want more details? View the full presentation from JOIN, “Killer Use Cases for Looker's Action Hub.

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