When Google announced a new free product called Google Data Studio, I was already excited. Even though the initial May launch was a limited release, the potential of a modern, cloud-based, and mobile-friendly application to present and share data in visually appealing charts was immediately apparent.
The simplest way to explain Google Data Studio is that it's a web application for data visualization--charts, graphs, dashboards, etc. It's like a simpler and more user-friendly version of systems such as Microsoft Excel services. In the past, these tools were reserved for power users, but Google Data Studio is much more accessible and therefore opens up data visualization functionality to a wider user base.
As an example, imagine you're a consultant migrating a large enterprise from Office 365 to G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Work). As part of that process, you're going to migrate the Exchange portion of Office 365 to Gmail. Let's take a look at a data report from AppBridge Surveyor and see what can be done quickly in Google Data Studio to present the data in a more accessible way. Surveyor is our application for scanning source systems and generating reports so you can make intelligent decisions about your migration to G Suite (formerly known as Google Apps for Work).
Using Surveyor, you have scanned Office 365 (or a stand-alone Microsoft Exchange server) and you're preparing to migrate to Gmail (to take full advantage of G Suite). After scanning the Exchange server, you have access to the "Exchange Object Totals" report. By itself, the resulting CSV data is not particularly eye-catching. Let's make this report more interesting by showing the data in a chart in Google Data Studio. (Note that users can create five reports for free in the Beta version of Data Studio.)
The first step is to fire up the new Google Data Studio Beta and create a new report. As part of that process, you'll be asked to provide a data source. This is one of the areas where the data studio shines. There are already a wide variety of "connectors" to choose from (e.g., Google Sheets, AdWords, BigQuery, YouTube Analytics, Google Analytics, and MySQL). Since you've already opened the CSV report in G Suite, it is available as a Google Sheet. To use the data, you simply select Google Sheet as your data source type and then browse for the report.
At this point, data studio will read the sheet and present you with a list of columns. You don't have to use all the data--you can choose just what you need for your impressive presentation.
Once you have your data selected, you will be presented with a blank canvas for your report. In this example, I clicked the bar chart button and then drew a square on the blank page to represent where the chart will display. I also added a dead simple title just for kicks.
With just a few clicks, I've been able to create a shareable bar chart showing my Google sheet data. That's pretty cool, but let's go even a step further. By going into the settings for the chart, You can choose the number of bars and sort them to highlight the metric that matters to me. In this case, I've sorted the data by the number of email messages in each user's account.
That was really easy and the results are visually appealing and informative, but the benefits don't stop there. If you've been using spreadsheets for long, you're probably thinking you could do most of this already. Sure, that's true, but since the 'backend' data is in G Suite, sharing and updating are painless. Furthermore, there's not confusion about which version of the report is up-to-date because there is only one version. The simplicity and power of Google Data Studio is impressive and you have to remember that this is only the Beta. I can't wait to see what comes in the future.