In his 2009 book, The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking Is the Next Competitive Advantage, Roger Martin presented the concept of the "knowledge funnel." The knowledge funnel is the advancement of knowledge from a disorganized mystery state to well-ordered algorithms. This is achieved through trial and error or rapid prototyping. The knowledge funnel is a model for how businesses of all sorts can advance knowledge and capture value.

The knowledge funnel has three consecutive stages, each of which represents a simplification and ordering of knowledge. According to Martin, "As understanding moves from mystery to heuristic to algorithm, extraneous information is pared away; the complexities of the world are mastered through simplification."

QlikView Is a Tool for Mastering the Knowledge Funnel

QlikView technical advisor Elif Tutuk has identified ways in which QlikView is an optimal tool to help decision makers move through the knowledge funnel quickly and easily.

 

 

Stage

Description

The QlikView Solution

1

Mystery

  • The observation of phenomena-things we see but don't yet understand
  • A first stab at trying to answer a question
  • Load millions of records in memory from multiple data sources
  • Observe the data
  • Search associatively
  • Visualize relationships in the data
  • Select values and see what data is associated
  • Narrow down selections

2

Heuristic

  • A method or procedure that serves as an aid to learning, discovery, and problem-solving by experiment or trial and error
  • A rule of thumb that helps to narrow the field of inquiry and work the mystery down to a manageable size
  • An organized way of exploring the possibilities-of thinking about the mystery-that provides a simplified understanding of it
  • Analyze granular data with no pre-calulation or pre aggregation
  • Build metrics on the fly
  • Use charts to see patterns or catch outliers in the data by aggregating the data with any combination of dimensions
  • Narrow the business questions
  • Understand the root cause of an outlier on a chart by selecting that data point on the chart and digging in to explore its meaning

3

Algorithm

  • A fixed formula
  • An explicit, step-by-step procedure for solving a problem
  • Means of simplifying and adding structure to the loose, unregimented heuristics so anyone with access to the algorithm can deploy it with efficiency
  • After finding the answers hidden in the data, formalize analysis and share findings with others using bookmarks and collaboration objects
  • Once a new way of analyzing the business has been established, easily merge the chart or the QlikView application into the production environment, under the control of IT


People need a BI tool that helps them pass through the knowledge funnel quickly. The tool should be flexible and nimble enough so that users do not get stuck in any stage. They should be able to build to think?ask a business question, build a chart to find the answer, make selections to see associations and outliers, and change the chart or create a new one. Decision makers should have access to a tool that helps them rapidly advance through the mystery, heuristic, and algorithm phases of the knowledge funnel quickly and easily, freeing them up to move on to the next business challenge.

For more insights by Elif Tutuk, see these related blog articles: "Build to Think: Applying Design Thinking to BI" and "QlikView Supports a Build to Think Approach to BI."