Consider the following 3 forces that will drive Mobile Business Intelligence:

First, more and more Generation X'ers are being promoted into executive roles. Gen X'ers continue to outpace Boomers regarding adoption of new technology according to Forrester Research, Inc., and "[they] use digital applications as a functional extension of their lives."


Second, mobile internet access will soon overtake-fixed internet access. Moreover, mobile data traffic is predicted to increase by more than 100% per year. See complete analysis from Morgan Stanley's Mary Meeker.

Third, technology is becoming more trendy. I was surprised to hear from an IT professional at a Fortune 1000 company who informed me that their senior executives including their CEO (who had always been very "Old School") have been recently using I-Pads wherever they go. These same people had always preferred to have all information and reports on paper and they were definitely late adopters when it came to technology. But to them, the I-Pad was trendy, other executives looked cool with them, and they wanted one. And now they are requesting BI applications that they can view on their I-Pads and cell phones.

At the National Retail Federation (NRF) trade show in early January, I was staffing our booth one afternoon when a few folks from an electronic payment technology provider came up to learn more about QlikView. We discussed their needs and QlikView's differentiators and then one of them said, "We don't need a reporting tool. We have Business Objects for that. What we need is a business investigation tool." They needed a way to look for patterns and insights in their data-quickly and easily. I told them that we think of this as Business Discovery?and got nods all around.

 

What Is Business Discovery?

Business Discovery is the next generation of BI. It bridges the gap between traditional BI solutions and standalone office productivity applications, enabling users to forge new paths and make new discoveries. It brings a whole new level of analysis, insight, and value to existing data stores with user interfaces that are clean, simple, and straightforward. It works with what you have and infuses new capabilities into BI:

  • Insight for everyone. Instead of just a few people involved in insight creation, Business Discovery enables everyone to create insight. It is about providing data access and analysis to individuals and groups, and letting them get what they need more rapidly and precisely than ever before.
  • Zero-wait analysis. Business Discovery radically collapses time to insight with zero-wait, instantaneous results. Users simply call up data, ask questions, and receive answers-all on the fly, all on their own.
  • Mobility. Business decision makers want to work how and where they like-whether that be in the warehouse, on the customer site, or on the trade show floor. Tablets and other large-form-factor mobile devices promise to make business data ubiquitous. Business Discovery platforms provide an intuitive interface and application infrastructure that is tailor-made to exploit the opportunity of a mobile, empowered workforce.
  • An app-like delivery model. Business Discovery platforms empower anyone to quickly develop and deploy simple, focused, and intuitive apps that can be easily reused. These apps are easy to modify, mash up, and share, allowing innovation to flourish at the edges of the organization and spread inward.
  • Remixability and reassembly. Nobody can predict what questions business users will have when they start exploring data-not even the users themselves. Business Discovery platforms make it easy for business users to remix and reassemble data in new views and create new visualizations for deeper understanding. Users can generate insights like never before.
  • A social and collaborative environment. Often the real value of a discovery is unlocked when a minor breakthrough in one part of the company leads to a major one elsewhere. Business Discovery enables users to share and collaborate on insight and analysis. It's about creating a community of users who engage in wiki-like decision-making to drive knowledge that can cascade across an organization.

When BI software came on the scene 20 years, it brought a promise of enabling better business decisions by making sense of raw data. Due to technology limitations, traditional BI hit a plateau as an information delivery platform, rather than blossoming into a decision-making, insight-generating powerhouse. Business Discovery changes that. It's the next generation of BI, enabling users to forge new paths and make new discoveries. For more info, please download the white paper "Business Discovery: Powerful, User-Driven BI." (Updated July 8, 2011 with new title and link to updated white paper.)

Saturday was the opening day of QlikTech's annual all-hands employee summit in Orlando, Florida. It was stunning to look around the ballroom and see more than 700 smiling faces. During the morning general session, three QlikTech customers got up on stage and shared their experiences with QlikView. We heard some great stories--like this one, from Autodesk.

In October, 2010, QlikTech announced that Autodesk had selected QlikView as the company's enterprise standard dashboard BI solution worldwide. Patrick Booher, Director of Enterprise Data Management at Autodesk, joined us at the summit to talk about this decision. QlikView first entered Autodesk through the sales organization, where sales groups were using it to bring data together for analysis from multiple sources. Before QlikView, the sales groups were spending time on data gathering, not data analysis.

QlikView spread through Autodesk and influenced a change in the company's BI strategy, to "create BI velocity through the end user." Autodesk conducted a bake-off with QlikView and a few other products, and QlikView won the prized spot as the enterprisewide standard for dashboards. Autodesk now uses QlikView for customer analysis, product analysis, and sales analysis.

What makes QlikView special to Autodesk? QlikView moves at the "speed of the business, not the speed of the back office." Autodesk uses SAP Business Objects for static, operational reporting and uses QlikView for strategic analysis. "The dots it enables our business users to connect are just fabulous," Booher said. QlikView also serves as an equalizer, giving more people access to information and decision-making power. This has been part of a cultural shift at the company toward more power to end users. (See these related QlikView Blog posts about QlikView as a change agent and how QlikView can help create a culture of transparency.)

Our customers are focusing us on the road ahead

While Autodesk and other QlikTech customers had great stories to share, they also offered the gift of some feedback about the investments they'd like to see us make moving forward. To sum it up, they are looking for more integration with existing enterprise systems (e.g., automated connections to SAP systems); high availability; advancements in scalability with giant data stores; and an enterprise licensing model. In QlikView 10, we significantly enhanced our capabilities for enterprise IT, but we recognize that we're not done. A big thank you to Autodesk and other QlikView customers who came to speak at our summit, and for offering your feedback and advice. It's worth gold to us!

One of the hottest buzzwords in business intelligence these days is mobile BI. Nearly every analyst firm is publishing a report on mobile BI, most BI vendors are announcing capabilities or partnerships in the mobile arena, and the 2011 prediction reports list mobile as a key trend. At the recent NRF show mobile was a key topic. But lost in much of this hyperbole is the fact that mobile isn't just another delivery platform for BI - it is a new world.

The discussion about mobile BI today seems to be centered on what platforms are supported, the debate over native vs. browser-based approaches, and the advantages of tablet displays vs. smart phones. While those are important technical considerations, there is a much bigger question and opportunity that is being glossed over: why do I need mobile BI?

To look at many of the mobile BI demos out there you might guess it is simply to take my sales performance application and view it on my tablet or smart phone. In other words, do the same thing on my mobile device as I do at my desk. There is certainly a use case for that, but I believe the real future of mobile BI comes in applications that have not been possible until now.

In a recent blog post, Forrester's Ted Schadler outlines three ways mobile devices will enter the workforce:

  • Displace - perform a task on a mobile device instead of a laptop in some situations.
  • Replace - start using a mobile device to improve a business activity, often replacing paper-based approaches
  • New place - identifying opportunities to do things with mobile devices that simply weren't possible heretofore.

While displacement and replacement activities are interesting, and are the low-hanging fruit of moving to mobile, "new place" opportunities will be the real fuel for mobile BI - and for the future of BI. Ted identifies some non-BI "new place" examples in his blog - what are the equivalents in BI? How about:

  • A retail store manager doing a floor walkthrough and reviewing promotional plans discovers that inventory for a key product is low. She is able to immediately check stock at neighboring stores and replenish.
  • A pharmaceutical rep sharing drug study information with a physician in the hospital cafeteria has the freedom to look at the information in new ways and answer the physician's unique questions (and follow-on questions) on topics such as prescription rates among key demographic groups.
  • A service technician checks availability of specialized parts and personnel for a suggested follow-up visit, allowing him to confirm with the client and close the appointment before leaving the site.

It is easy to simply port existing BI ideas, applications and demos to mobile devices - but I think the real opportunity is much greater. Where do you see mobile BI going?

The National Retail Federation (NRF) trade show in New York last week was focused just on the retail industry. But because retail is all about consumers, and consumer trends heavily influence trends in business technology, the trends in mobile computing from NRF are especially significant for BI.

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Across the vast show floor, vendors were pitching mobile solutions for inventory and asset visibility, stock room management, mobile marketing, and virtual transaction processing?even augmented reality. Companies like IBM and NCR were talking about mobile as a key element of converged, cross-channel retail solutions, to help retailers increase revenues by improving the shopping experience for customers.

Here are a few things that popped out at me from the (massive) show floor at NRF:

  • Mobile is the future of business intelligence. QlikTech and other BI vendors were demoing mobile BI solutions, to put business information and analytics in the hands of decision makers when and where people need it.
  • Tablets are proliferating. The Apple iPad will soon have lots of competition. Many tablet PCs were on display at NRF, including Cisco CIUS, Dell Duo, Fujitsu LIFEBOOK, and HP Slate.
  • Mobile printers round out the picture. One of the downsides of mobile computing to date is lack of access to a printer from your device. This will change, evidenced by availability of mobile printers from companies like BIXOLON, Epson, and HP.
  • Mobile payments are hot. Companies like Mobile Pay USA are offering solutions to enable consumers to make payments directly from their mobile devices. Check out these results from an IBM survey of 30,000 consumers. One of the key findings was that 50% of respondents said they were willing to use a personal mobile device to make payments, in order to avoid the checkout lane.
  • Special-purpose mobile devices aren't going away. Despite growing adoption of multipurpose mobile devices, the need still exists for ruggedized devices from companies like Bluebird Pidion and PSION TEKLOGIX, for example, and mobile payment terminals (point of sale systems) from companies like Denso, Ingenico, and Micros.

What do these trends in mobile for the retail industry have to do with you, cherished reader of The QlikView Blog? A lot! Imagine rich, easy-to-use analytics in the hands of a salesperson on the retail floor, guiding the salesperson through the up-sell and cross-sell process as they ring the customer up. And what better way to provide and deliver insight into inventory and asset status and real-time response to in-store marketing campaigns than with up-to-date analytics?

Yesterday was the second day of the National Retail Federation (NRF) trade show in New York City. Despite the impending Blizzard of Doom, the show floor was abuzz and QlikTech partners stopped by our booth for interviews with us about moments of discovery using QlikView.

 

 

This 3-minute video features commentary from two QlikTech partners: Ron Anderson, President of Allegro BI, and Laurent Toulemonde, Product and Marketing Manager with Generix Group. Ron shares a story about how using QlikView a customer of his discovered a way to reduce the cost of labor by about 30% across their retail stores. Laurent talks about his experiences using QlikView to create an application for a customer that ended up using the software for insights into many areas of their business. Enjoy!

I'm at the 100th annual National Retail Federation (NRF) trade show in New York. I'm helping to staff the QlikView booth, tweeting from the show floor (when the AT&T data network works), and talking with customers, partners, and analysts. I answered the "What makes you different from the 40 other BI vendors here?" question, demo'ed QlikView's associative experience, and-most fun of all-recorded video interviews with QlikView customers and partners about discoveries they have made with QlikView.

This 3 1/2 minute video features commentary from Steve Czetty, VP with Sky IT Group (a QlikView partner) and Dan Grosz, VP of Information Systems at VIP Parts, Tires and Service. Steve shares an example of a discovery one of his retail customers made, using QlikView, that helped them reduce excess web store inventory. Dan talks about how QlikView helped revolutionize merchandising at VIP Parts, Tires and Service.

Enjoy! And stay tuned-we've got more interviews lined up for tomorrow and are aiming to create another video like this one. You can get an alert when it goes live by subscribing to our YouTube channel.


In nearly every conversation I have with a QlikView customer or partner, the topic of QlikView's specialness comes up. People often have a story about an "a-ha" moment, or a discovery they made using QlikView. They all share a passion for this software that makes their lives easier. I enjoy hearing these stories, and they make me proud to work for QlikTech.

Recently, I had a Skype conversation with Muzaffer Yontem, a sales and business development executive with BI Technology Ltd. , a QlikView master reseller in Turkey. In only two years, BI Technology has built up a stable of more than 55 enterprise customers including a multi-thousand-user site.

Muzaffer has been in the BI world for a long time. He worked with Cognos as far back as 1997-'99, followed by six years with Business Objects (BO). He is now a managing partner of a business intelligence consultancy that for many years provided services for BO customers and today provides services exclusively for QlikView. BI Technology switched from BO to QlikView for two reasons: BO had become complex and required too many consultants for each project-and the acquisition of BO by SAP was a sign of the end of the traditional BI era.

Having worked with multiple BI software products and completed many BI projects, Muzaffer's perspective is that QlikView:

  • Projects require fewer resources than those involving traditional BI software. Due to a rapid growth in data volume and sources, BI projects usually have a significant data integration element to them. With traditional BI software, these projects tend to require lots of different people with a variety of skill sets. In contrast, with QlikView, BI Technology usually sends in one consultant, but two at the most-a developer and a project manager who also does a quality check. This is a crucial consideration for customers, as they anticipate maintaining their BI environments moving forward.
  • Is simpler than traditional BI software because it is a concentrated product. While most BI vendors claim they have a single platform, QlikView also provides a single interface for developers and end users. In a single product, QlikView provides data integration, reporting, visualization, analysis, and a mobile front end. This makes life simpler for customers, who are telling BI Technology, "I want something simple that won't tire me and my team, and I want business results as soon as possible."
  • Is flexible and delivers fast results. Muzaffer described the personality of business users in Turkey as "a combination of Mediterranean soul-very impatient, wanting results in as short a period as possible-and an Asian perspective, which says that things shouldn't be complicated." His customers want value quickly. Their perspective is, "The quicker you give me value, the more valuable you are to me." BI Technology is able to design QlikView any way the customer wants: as a search engine, report, analytic application, or dashboard. According to Muzaffer, nothing is impossible with QlikView-and he can prove it to customers quickly with a "Seeing Is Believing" (SIB) event. (For more about SIBs, see related blog articles here and here.)
  • Makes people happy. A software deployment is successful only when end users adopt it. Muzaffer said, "I'm satisfied-and surprised, to be honest-at how well QlikView is adopted by business users. In the end, this is the only criterion that really matters to us." BI Technology's customers are happy to talk to prospects, which helps the sales process. Muzaffer said that he sometimes hears QlikView users say things like, "When I'm bored, sometimes I'll open up QlikView and play around with it." [How often do you hear that?] Not only are BI Technology's customers happy, but also the company's sales team, consultants, and partner ecosystem.

    If you have a QlikView story to share, I'm all ears. I'm especially interested in hearing about discoveries you've made as a result of using QlikView, or about your a-ha moment. Drop me a line at erica.driver@qlik.com.

"Start with the visual. That forms the question." It was these eight words in a tweet by John Maeda, President of Rhode Island School of Design, that prompted me to watch a 12-minute TedX video. "Math Curriculum Makeover" features high school math teacher Dan Meyer. As an educator, Meyer is struggling to overcome a number of student issues such as lack of initiative, lack of perseverance, lack of (knowledge) retention, aversion to word problems, and eagerness for formulas. In this video, filmed on March 6, 2010, Meyer described how he is turning high school math education on its head as he teaches kids math reasoning and patient problem-solving skills.

What does high school math education have to do with BI software? A whole lot, actually. Consider this quote from Meyer's presentation, "What problem have you solved-ever-that was worth solving, where you knew all of the given information in advance? Or you didn't have a surplus of information and you had to filter it out? Or you didn't have insufficient information and had to go find some? I'm sure we all agree that no problem worth solving is like that." Problem-solving is about research, pattern-matching, and filtering out the unimportant. And isn't that what BI software is supposed to help us do?

In his presentation, Meyer made a few recommendations to educators that I think apply to BI project stakeholders:

  • "Use multimedia." In BI terms, I'd translate this to: "Deliver interactivity and data visualization." Enable users to engage with the software, to explore and "go off-road" with their data. Enable them to visualize the data-not just with fancy charts and graphics, but in a way that leads them to see relationships in the data and quickly glean insight from it. (See this related blog post and video, "As Easy as Your Favorite Consumer App.")
  • "Let students build the problem." The BI corollary is that providing business users with pre-canned reports (the equivalent of old-fashioned math word problems, in this video) does not encourage people to think about things in new ways. Instead, put tools in the hands of decision-makers to encourage them to think in fresh ways-to ask and answer not just the first question that comes to mind, but also the second question, and then the third question. Give them tools to investigate not only the "why" questions, but also the "why not" questions.

In his presentation, Meyer uses a great quote attributed to Albert Einstein: "The formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill." I think this quote applies directly to people at work trying to improve processes, make optimal decisions, or identify opportunities. And it strikes me that QlikView, a BI software product, plays the same role in the workplace that educator Dan Meyer plays in the high school math classroom. QlikView helps people find their own answers-and even more importantly, to ask their own questions. QlikView enables the user's thoughts to flow from one idea or question to the next, uncovering insights along the way. Check out this two-minute video showing the insight QlikView can deliver in just five clicks. For more detail on how QlikView makes this happen, see the white paper, "The Associative Experience: QlikView's Overwhelming Advantage."

“A lot of kids these days like to play games. But now they want to make them.”

– Thomas Suarez, 12-year-old app developer


Consumerization of technology is a phrase used a lot these days ― here at QlikTech, and in the tech industry at large. When people talk about the consumerization of technology, they are typically referring to ease of acquisition and ease of use. Consumer technology has become so easy to use that even the youngest among us can engage with it. (See the related post, “So Easy a Two-Year-Old Can Do It.”)

 

Another important element of consumerization is ease of creation. Today, even non-technical people can create and maintain web sites and publish blogs and even books. And, with new technologies like the iPhone software developer kit (SDK), it’s easier than ever for people to write and distribute software applications.

I just watched a video of a presentation by 12-year-old Thomas Suarez at an October, 2011 TEDx event in Manhattan Beach, California. According to the World Records Academy, Suarez has set the record for the world’s youngest app developer. In this TEDx video, Suarez shared the story of how he came to be an iPhone app developer, and what he’s doing to help other kids follow in his footsteps.

Suarez got his start programming in languages like Python, C, and Java, and when Apple released the iPhone SDK, it opened up a whole new world of possibilities for him. Suarez built a couple of apps called Earth Fortune and Bustin Jieber (a Justin Bieber whack-a-mole game) and got his parents to pony up the $99 fee to submit his apps to the iTunes App Store. Suarez has since started an app club at his school, where other kids can come and learn how to design and build apps.

This story has big implications for self-service BI. When we think about self-service BI, we can’t stop at ease of access and ease of use. We must also focus on ease of creation. Self-service BI has to make it easy for users―even non-technical business users―to create their own analysis. Business users need capabilities for quickly and easily modifying apps created by others and, ultimately, easy-to-use tools for creating their own apps. The end goal is empowering business users to ask and answer their own streams of questions.

In December, I wrote about how QlikView can help create a culture of transparency (see post here). The point I made in that article was that putting facts in front of people in an easily-consumable way can change the decisions we make and the way we behave. Since then, I've been thinking a lot about QlikView as an agent of change in general-as a catalyst that compels or motivates or even goads us into changing our behavior.

I recently talked about this with Shawn Helwig, manager of business intelligence and CRM consulting at Wipfli. Wipfli, a QlikTech partner, is a 1,000-person professional services firm that provides consulting in a number of areas including business process improvement. Shawn is the firm's BI subject matter expert and leads the company's QlikView service line. In December, Shawn wrote a terrific blog post titled, "Intellectual Curiosity . . . Can QlikView Change Corporate Culture?" Here, he posited that QlikView can help re-invigorate a culture of intellectual curiosity.

That's a big claim. So when we spoke I asked him what it is about QlikView that uniquely positions it as an agent of change. In Shawn's view, it's two things:

  • The associative experience. The way he put it was, "With QlikView, you can go off-roading with your data. People who are 'wilderness-curious' may get a four wheel drive vehicle and go out into the mountains or desert just to see what's out there. In the business equivalent, these are the people who have some insight into their business but not all the answers, and they want a tool that will allow them to go out there and explore why a KPI is-or isn't-trending in a particular direction." With QlikView, business analysts are not limited to pre-defined queries, or to just what they can get in a cube. They can spend their time actually analyzing data rather than just aggregating it into cubes and reports for others to look at.
  • The ability to create a big data model quickly. With traditional BI, analysis is limited to the data you have access to in a cube. You might be intellectually curious-you might wonder "what if"-but then run out of data to analyze in the cube. To satisfy your curiosity, you'd have to find another cube, or extract data from another cube and pull it into spreadsheet. You would try to build associations among the data on your own, usually in a spreadsheet. In contrast, with QlikView you have access to a bigger set of data than you would have in a cube. You can bring data from multiple sources into QlikView and visualize the associations in the data immediately. (See this related blog post and video.)

While it's true that with enough time and money, a business analyst could use pretty much any BI tool to eventually get the right data together in one place to be analyzed for insights, with QlikView it's fast and easy-and therefore less expensive. Shawn said, "The one thing we know about creating a data model that will power a BI solution is that it's going to be wrong at first. Someone, somewhere, is going to come back and say, 'You didn't include this piece of data,' or 'That particular view is wrong.' It will have to be modified. With QlikView, it takes a fraction of the amount of time it takes with traditional BI solutions to: modify a script, pull the needed data into QlikView and set up associations in the data-and bring in data from additional sources, if needed." QlikView by its very nature can enable intellectually curious people to explore and investigate-to ask questions and find answers. It can be an agent of change.

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