Last week I travelled to Sydney, Australia, to speak at the Gartner BI & Information Management Summit. QlikTech had a booth on the show floor. Lots of people came up to say, "I've been hearing good things about QlikView. Tell me more." I also presented QlikTech's Business Discovery message to a room full of engaged people, which was a pleasure.

While I was in Australia, I spent a fair amount of time with David Merchant, QlikTech's head of marketing for Australia and New Zealand, and Mark Sands, regional director. They shared their insights and perspectives on QlikTech's role and position in this emerging market.

The Australian market: a green field ahead

Business intelligence is a relatively well-developed market in Australia. But in this region, QlikView is an upstart. QlikTech's investments in the Australian and New Zealand markets indicate the growth opportunity we see in the region. Just over a year ago, in January of 2010, QlikTech established an Australian subsidiary. But this wasn't our first introduction to the Australian market. For about six years prior to that, we had been establishing a presence in the region through partners like Inside Info.

It was really just last year that QlikView came onto the Australian market in large enterprise accounts. This year we are making investments to achieve growth quickly. Mark Sands said, "We have seen a groundswell here regarding QlikView. It's great. The biggest issue we have is of bandwidth. We have so many opportunities in Australia?like growing our OEM partner relationships and cultivating relationships with system integrators?that we have to prioritize our investments."

What gets the Australian leadership team up in the morning?

QlikTech presents a unique opportunity in the Australian software market right now because it's a publicly traded, 700+ person company with a solid product and lots of referenceable enterprise accounts. Yet in Australia (as in many other regions), QlikTech has the feel of a startup. Regional director Mark Sands said, "This isn't the first time I've grown a business in an emerging market. I worked for two small vendors that were acquired by Business Objects. I enjoy growing things?bringing together a group of like-minded people and building something together."

When I asked what he meant by "like-minded," he said people who are not only skilled and motivated but behave in a way that indicates they are all working for the same thing, without political agendas?and who recognize that as a startup-type company they have to take responsibility to make things happen. Regional marketing director David Merchant put it this way: "QlikView is an exciting product in an exciting part of the IT market. Compared to other BI startups, QlikTech is 'big.' Yet the company has a startup feel to it. Common sense and pragmatism prevail here."

QlikView skill sets are a perfect fit for IT teams. To illustrate this point, the chart below breaks down the skills you need for QlikView development in two areas: general BI skills and QlikView-specific skills. The vast majority of skills needed for an enterprise deployment of QlikView are not only common to deployment of other BI platforms--but most likely ubiquitous in most IT departments.

This is important because new technologies can seem disruptive. The ability to use existing skills to get a new technology established and scaled out gives an IT group flexibility, continuity, and predictability in sourcing, training, and hardening a deployment.

There are a few skills that are specific to QlikView, although most people who have designed or developed in QlikView will tell you that these are intuitive features that take a fraction of the time to learn compared with other BI technologies.

When a BI tool has this close a match to an already-existing IT skill set, it opens the doors to many deployment and co-development options. IT groups can own and control as much of the development and design as they like, while still enabling business groups to participate in the delivery of Business Discovery applications that can expand the value and reach of a BI deployment more broadly throughout the organization.

QlikView and IT skills are like chocolate and peanut butter together (without the peanut allergies).

All Business Intelligence solutions attempt to provide answers to business questions.

However, finding an answer to business questions is often complex and multi-faceted. Most BI platforms can help a user find the answer to the first question they come up with, and possibly a limited follow-on question through simple, single-value drilldown or hard-wired parameter passing. Most BI technologies allow you to view results in a standard report format or perhaps in some very attractive visualizations?though this tends to be where it stops. Ultimately, end users cannot use traditional BI solutions to support a natural thought process with a non-predetermined path of questions and answers.

 

 

QlikView is different from traditional BI solutions in that all analysis in a QlikView application is automatically associated. This is based on the data model held in memory which inherits many important relationships from underlying databases and also allows the creation of new relationships to other, previously unrelated data sources. This capability means that QlikView just works as your mind would expect it to.

A question I always ask myself when reading about other BI technologies is whether they really support the analysis of relationships in data derived from more than one data source, not simply the merging together of data at a query level and then display of the results in a report.

Let me expand on this a little. Imagine I have a chart that shows me product sales, sorted by sales value. Within QlikView I can drill into or select products within the chart?though it doesn't stop there. Suppose I also have another chart that show sales trends over time. Now, if I select my top five products I then see the sales trends for those top five products. Conversely, I could start by selecting a time period in the chart of unusual activity, and instantly see the products that have contributed to this in order of importance.

I'm sure the mathematicians amongst you could come up with some sort of formula which would approximate how many different routes of questioning an end user could take through a QlikView application given the number of different analyses available. However, for now, imagine you have four pieces of analysis as shown in this video.

In QlikView, all the relevant pieces of analysis are associated. Because all of the objects in QlikView are completely interactive, supporting single or multiple selections and/or drilldown or drill across, end users have a completely ad hoc ability to ask the questions they want, and also as many follow on questions as required.

This video shows a fairly simple example but even in this case, you will hopefully begin to realize that the QlikView associative experience provides a big step up from traditional query/report paradigms that provide simple prompts with no particular context, and can generate an answer to a question but provide very limited scope for subsequent analysis.

Conclusion

Through the use of a completely interactive interface where all analysis is associated, driven by the underlying data model held in memory, QlikView opens up a new world of possibilities to end users. They can see the bigger picture, ask whatever questions come to mind, and ask follow-on questions by interacting with data in multiple charts or tables?each having its own important window on the data. Users can make selections, drill up, down, or across, sort data in various ways, and change chart types. They can even create their own new views and visualizations which will contain data that is automatically associated.

This unique capability, in conjunction with QlikView's comprehensive search, advanced visualization, and speed-of-thought analysis, makes it clear why end users who have been frustrated by shortcomings in other BI products become such big fans of QlikView.

We would of course welcome your thoughts on this and especially examples/experiences where this aspect of the product has demonstrated value to you.

For more than a year, a serial shooter was on the loose in the Swedish city of Malmö. He shot at people while they stood at bus stops, sat in their cars, and moved about indoors. One person has died and several others have been wounded in the attacks. (For more information, see the November 7, 2010 Associated Press article, "Police arrest man in Swedish immigrant shootings.")

Using QlikView, the police were able to identify the suspect by analyzing many years of crime report data, and have made an arrest. I spoke with Malmö police analyst Berth Simonsson about the role QlikView played in this case. Simonsson said, "QlikView has been a labor-saving tool for us. Police analysts ask questions and QlikView delivers answers instantly. Instead of going through crime reports manually, we have been able to go through lots of information quickly and found the link that otherwise would have been hard to detect."

 

The Malmö police department is a long-time customer of QlikView, but up until now had not used QlikView to analyze criminal activity. Once the department received permission to use QlikView in this way, analysts loaded 10 years' worth of historical crime data (2 million reports, comprising 2 billion rows of data) into an existing QlikView application. It took three hours to load the data and configure interactive reports, and then police analysts could immediately begin investigating the data.

  • Nine months of work in just a few minutes. Simonsson said that without QlikView, analysts would have had to read every crime report by hand to search for clues that might lead them to a suspect. This would have been very difficult. He estimated that it would have taken three people three months to read through just one year's worth of reports-never mind 10 years' worth-to find answers that QlikView made visible immediately. So every time the department uses QlikView to analyze historical crime reports in this way for a case, it saves many months of effort.
  • QlikView is a powerful investigative tool. If police analysts have an idea about a case, they can use QlikView to test their idea. The QlikView associative experience enables them to explore trends in the data. They can search for any city, time of day, reported behavior, or other details. If they find something of interest (e.g., red car or red truck), they can click a button to view the entire crime report. In QlikView, the crime report comes up immediately. With another system the department uses, analysts have to wait a half minute for a report to load.

Because QlikView is so easy to manage and use, the department plans to expand its use into new areas. Even with about 100 QlikView applications in place, Simonsson is one of just two people who support QlikView for the Skåne (southern Sweden) regional police department. Simonsson said, "The two of us are supporting 3,500 people in the police force, including about 50 analysts. We have been supporting it for about three years now. It's very easy, very straightforward." And now that the police analysts have experienced the power of QlikView for solving crimes, they are planning to use it more broadly. For example, the department checks about 10,000 people every year in Skåne; what they want to do is analyze who has been checked and when, similar to the way they can now analyze crime reports. Applications for car theft and street crimes like assaults are in the plan and the department has goals of using QlikView to reduce crimes in specific areas.

There's no question-the Malmö police department's ability to conduct analysis more quickly and comprehensively will go a long way toward helping to protect the public. We're proud to play a role in it!



Aw Shucks

Posted by mmy Feb 11, 2011

Throughout my career I have heard that many "'ata boy's" can be wiped out by one "aw shucks". Consider the IT department that meticulously develops a solution to successfully organize and deliver large volumes of data to end-users for reports, analysis, and dashboards. IT professionals deservedly receive an "'ata boy" at each step of the development process that culminates after months or years in the roll out of an application that secures access to sensitive information, and provides a single version of the truth.

Then, "aw shucks", end-users have trouble adopting and using the BI solution. Sometimes this happens right away, or it happens over time as the organization morphs and the needs of the business users change. So finance, operations, marketing, HR etc. bypass using the company's BI tool, and routinely dump information from various data sources into Excel spreadsheets, and manipulate the data to create their reports and analysis. In essence they really use Excel as their BI tool. Then, they email their spreadsheets to others inside and possibly outside their organizations. Result: many versions of the truth depending on the age of the Excel file, spreadsheet user errors, and major breaches in security.

If end-users have ever-changing needs that are difficult to support with existing BI, then a next generation business discovery BI tool can be implemented to reduce unwanted Excel practices, accommodate user needs more easily and efficiently to boost BI user engagement, and maintain control and data integrity for IT. So don't let your "'ata boy's" get wiped out by an "aw shucks".

Part of what makes QlikTech special is the investment the company makes in people and culture. Qlik Academy Introduction Week is part of that (see related blog post "A Look into the Swedish Soul of QlikTech"). Every new employee goes to the company's birthplace in Lund, Sweden for five days of intensive training in company values, business processes, best practices, internal systems, and products.

Another investment in culture is the annual all-hands summit. The 2011 QlikTech summit took place in Orlando, Florida in January. More than 700 of us gathered there to share and learn, hear customers' and partners' stories, connect with each other, and?importantly?take in a hearty dose of company values. One whole day of the event was dedicated to active games designed to instill in each of us a deep understanding of QlikTech's core values.

 

 

When we get together, we have fun. Here's where the house band comes in. Qlark (with a Q, of course) is a bunch of guys from Malmö, Sweden, who have been playing at QlikTech employee summits since 2006 or 2007. When Qlark plays, all the QlikTech executives get up and dance. To get a unique perspective on QlikTech's culture, I caught up with two of the original band members. I asked Alexander Holmgren and Anders Grahn about QlikTech's character, and how they've seen us change through the years.

 

 

Erica: So what's the story of the QlikTech band?

 

 

 

 

 

Qlark: We first got hooked up with QlikTech via an event company. But now we go right to the source. Smile We've become great friends. We first played about four or five years ago at a summit in La Plagne, France, as a sort of after-ski band. There were about 200 people in the company at that time?mostly Dutch, Germans, and Swedes. It was a lot of fun.

Erica: What brings you back year after year?

Qlark: The people seem to really like what we do, and we like the way they dance. We've heard from people at QlikTech that the music really brings people together.

Erica: How have you seen QlikTech change since you've been doing this gig?

Qlark: We get to play at much bigger venues, of course, and there are a lot more of you. We like that. But let's focus on what hasn't changed. The thing that hasn't changed is people still greet us with a lot of love and warmth, just like when the company was much smaller. We love it!

Last week at the Gartner BI Summit in London, QlikTech's Senior VP of Products Anthony Deighton sat on a panel titled, "In with the 'New' and Out with the 'Old?' Risks, Benefits, and Reality of New Technologies." On stage, he was accompanied by executives from Hewlett-Packard, IBM, SAP, and Teradata.

 

 

The format of this session was a lot of fun. Gartner research VP Nigel Rayner presented a series of statements to the audience and asked us to hold up colored cards to indicate how strongly we agreed (green card) or disagreed (red card) with each statement. Yellow cards represented "undecided" or "maybe." While participants were preparing their answers to each question, the panelists also selected cards to hold up. Their cards said, "strongly agree," "agree," "neutral," disagree," or "strongly disagree." After all opinions were out in the open, Nigel Rayner facilitated discussions with the vendors. Here's how it all shook out.

Lots of us agreed on a few things

  • "In the future, users will prefer to buy BI and analytics software combined with hardware from a single vendor"?not! Most people in the audience said they disagreed with this statement, with about 20% saying they agreed. Anthony Deighton strongly disagreed, as did Teradata. SAP was neutral. HP and IBM agreed. IBM's view was that integrated, optimized hardware/software solutions benefit customers.
  • "iPads, tablets, and other mobile devices will significantly increase the penetration of BI among end users." Most of the people in the audience agreed. The others were split, with approximately 5% disagreeing and 5% undecided. The vendors all strongly agreed. IBM commented that mobility will drive collaboration as organizations link BI into social networks.
  • "Predictive analytics will move from specialist applications to be widely used by business users in decision making." The audience was in strong agreement, with only 5%-10% disagreeing or undecided. All the vendors strongly agreed except SAP, which strongly disagreed. SAP said that if predictive analytics were that useful, more people would already be doing it. One possibility is that the problem isn't so much technology as the limited number of business people who have the statistical skills to know how to use predictive analytics tools.

Areas of uncertainty remain

  • "SaaS will become the dominant delivery capability for BI and analytics"?the jury is still out. The audience offered lots of yellow cards (undecided votes) and a rough split between "agree" and "disagree." QlikTech's Anthony Deighton strongly disagreed, saying that with security concerns and ever-increasing volumes of data, the value proposition for SaaS-based BI isn't all that apparent.
  • "Open source BI will become a significant force in the market"?opinions were mixed. In the audience, red cards were dominant, with yellows and greens evenly split. All of the vendors strongly disagreed except HP, which agreed, and Teradata, which strongly agreed. Teradata said it's conceivable that components of open source BI technology might find their way into Teradata offerings at some point.
  • "Growth in BI spending by line of business will outpace BI spending under IT's direct control"?maybe. Roughly 60% of the audience said they agreed, but quite a lot of people also held up red cards. The panelists were mixed. Anthony Deighton strongly agreed because he believes that to be successful, BI projects must be a partnership between IT and other parts of the business.
  • "In-memory will be the dominant technology for all aspects of BI within 10 years"?perhaps. About half of the audience said they agreed, with the rest split between "disagreed" and "undecided." HP and SAP, as well as Anthony Deighton, strongly agreed. IBM agreed, while Teradata strongly disagreed. Teradata said that some data will reside in memory but not all of it. He made the point that customers are going to want to buy the cheapest input/outputs (IOs) and storage possible, and use hierarchal storage with their BI solutions.

Lots of great discussion took place during this panel, and we were proud to be a part of it!

This week I attended the Gartner BI Summit in London. The tag line of the conference was, "ReBIrth?Adjust, Evaluate, Organize." I used Twitter heavily during the event--you can read my tweets, as well as those of other conference attendees, here.

The Gartner BI Summit was an exciting event for QlikTech, as it took place on the heels of the analyst firm publishing its 2011 Business Intelligence Platform Magic Quadrant report. You can access the full report, in all its 52-page glory, here.

QlikTech secured a coveted position in the Leaders Quadrant based on our completeness of vision and ability to execute. During an analyst panel discussion about Magic Quadrants, analyst Rita Sallam noted that the Leaders Quadrant in the BI Magic Quadrant includes two types of vendors: traditional BI vendors and what Gartner calls data discovery vendors. According to the BI Platforms Magic Quadrant report, "These data discovery alternatives to traditional BI platforms offer highly interactive and graphical user interfaces built on in-memory architectures to address business users' unmet ease-of-use and rapid deployment needs."

We couldn't agree more. We call this new type of BI "Business Discovery." In our view, Business Discovery platforms work with what you have (including traditional BI solutions) and deliver zero-wait analysis, mobility, an app-like delivery model, remixability and reassembly, and a social and collaborative environment. If you'd like more info, click here to download the QlikView White Paper "Business Discovery: The Next Generation of BI."

The QlikTech product marketing team went through a big effort during the past few months to identify and clearly describe what it is that makes the QlikView Business Discovery platform unique in the market. After lots of research, conversations with customers, partners, and our own people in the field, we've summed it up this way.

What makes QlikView unique is a combination of five capabilities that, taken together, deliver a superior user experience:

  • User-centric interactivity. Ask your own questions and formulate your own insights in a simple and straightforward way. Type any word or phrase and get instant results that illuminate relationships in data sourced from various systems. Visualize data any way you want: charts, tables, maps, graphs, and list boxes. Click anywhere for more detail. Remix and reassemble data in new views and visualizations.
  • Associative experience. Gain unexpected insights and make discoveries by easily and clearly seeing how data is associated and what data is not related. Conduct direct and indirect searches across all data anywhere in the application-globally or within a single field. When you make a selection, all fields instantaneously filter themselves based on your selection. The data related to your selection is highlighted in white while unrelated data is highlighted in gray.
  • Access to business data-from anywhere. Access relevant information from multiple business systems with incremental loading of updates. Combine data in a single in-memory location to access a full range of detail from top-level indicators to full transactional detail. Work with your dynamic, interactive data analytics through the most popular mobile devices, including iPad, iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry. Get data selection, associative search, GPS-sensitive filtering, and advanced visualization on your device.
  • Speed-of-thought analysis. Call up data, ask questions, and receive answers-all on the fly, all on your own. Leverage QlikView's highly optimized, scalable, in-memory engine for instant access to very large data sets. Derive insight in just a few mouse clicks. See relationships and find meaning in data, for a quick path to insight.
  • Rapid time to value. Measure time to value (or time to market, for partners) in weeks, days, or even hours. According to a 2009 IDC survey, 44% of QlikView customers deploy QlikView in less than one month and 77% deploy it in less than three months.

Enterprise software must address IT requirements, such as security, manageability and scalability. QlikView does that. But what really sets QlikView apart from traditional BI solutions is the user experience. It is the ability for decision makers at any level in the organization to explore data on their own, drawing conclusions and deriving insights.

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