To QlikView, social media data is just another source of data. It’s nothing special. Okay, it can be unstructured and messy, and there’s a lot of it. But as long as it can be brought into a table, QlikView can be used to explore and analyze it.

While QlikView provides direct connectors to a variety of data sources (e.g., Excel spreadsheets, XML files, ODBC databases, SAP, Salesforce.com, and more), we don’t currently offer direct connectors to social media sites. This doesn’t mean we think social media analytics are unimportant. Au contraire. We are very excited to have partners like Industrial CodeBox, which has built a set of connectors from QlikView to social media data sources like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter — and partners like TIQ Solutions that have built applications to analyze Twitter sentiment. (See the related blog post, “Analyze the Tweetstream with QlikView.”)

SocMedia Engagement Health Tracker image.png

QVSource: an API connector for QlikView

This week I talked to Chris Brain, owner and director of Industrial CodeBox, about QVSource. QVSource enables QlikView users to load data from a variety of web APIs without heavy-duty technical skills or knowledge of how to connect to the API. Users point QlikView to QVSource and within a few minutes they are loading data from social networks or other web applications into their application. QVSource provides direct connectors to Facebook, Google Spreadsheets and Google Analytics, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other web services and developers can use the QVSource SDK (software development kit) to create additional connectors. Check out these demo apps on the QVSource web site for Twitter Social Media Engagement and Facebook Pages Social Media Engagement.

Social media analytics ≠ social Business Discovery

Sometimes when we talk about social Business Discovery, people think we are talking about social media data analysis. To be clear, these are two different things. In contrast to social media analytics, social Business Discovery is about enabling business people to collaborate on discoveries and generate multiplicative insights. Users collaborate on creation of analytic apps and can define and answer their own questions in formal or informal groups. They communicate with each other in real time and asynchronously to collaboratively explore data, forge paths to discovery and insight, and arrive at decisions. They explore Business Discovery apps through a social lens to find the data and insights that are most relevant to them. (See these related blog posts: “What’s the Right Context for Delivery of Social BI?” “Social BI: How Do People Work, and What Tools Are Available?” and “QlikView Supports Multiple Approaches to Social BI.”)

I recently visited my sister and her family. The youngest of her boys is two years old. He’s just learning how to talk; he looks at me with great sincerity on his face and issues forth a long string of gibberish that his mom has to translate. The older one is a rough-and-tumble four-year-old.

After dinner the older one began throwing pillows at my head, trying to provoke a tickle fight. The younger kid picked up his mom’s iPhone. He entertained himself quietly while his brother and I tore the living room apart.

As I drove back to my hotel that night I thought, “Wow. Just wow. You can be pre-verbal and still use an iPhone.” My two-year-old nephew pushed the home button to turn on the phone, opened the Photos app, and began flipping through pictures. When he got to an image with a triangle on it he touched the triangle to make the video play.

Apple has changed the game forever.  Business technology that requires extensive training will have gone the way of the dinosaur long before my nephews enter the workforce. Technology that is not intuitive and fun to use will be supplanted by technology that delights, entertains, and enlightens its user.

A page from Apple’s own playbook: “A user interface that is unattractive, convoluted, or illogical can make even a great application seem like a chore to use. But a beautiful, intuitive, compelling user interface enhances an application’s functionality and inspires a positive emotional attachment in users.”

Business technology must be more than inspired by excellent consumer technology. It must live and breathe the same principles of design. User interfaces must be based on the way people think and work, not on the capabilities of the technology. It’s a tall order. Daunting, in fact. But those are now the rules of the game. The business technology providers that get it right will capture the hearts, minds, and wallets—of the workforce.

QlikTech recently commissioned a research study by European analyst firm Pierre Audoin Consultants (PAC) about BI. PAC surveyed 80 department heads and CEOs of German, Austrian, and Swiss companies that have more than 500 employees and are in the industrial, trade and services industries. The subject of the survey was BI solutions and plans.

report cover image.JPG

In general, PAC found that the BI focus of German-speaking business managers in these countries is primarily on flexibility, adaptability, and mobility. A few of the more striking findings from the study:

  • 70% of managers surveyed wish for more reliable assistance in data analysis.
  • Only half of German-speaking managers believe the results of data analysis in their organization to be trustworthy.
  • More than half of survey respondents (53%) prefer Microsoft Excel to their BI application. Excel devotees appreciate the flexibility of setting up independent analysis.
  • One in four respondents complained that they have to delay business decisions because reports are not delivered on time.
  • 60% of respondents would prefer to meet their analysis needs independently without help from IT.
  • Nearly 40% of respondents have concrete plans to buy a new, more powerful BI solution, and another 30% are discussing a purchase.
  • More than half of respondents hoped for a productivity gain from mobile BI.

You can download the study here (report is in German).

With each new colleague, customer, or partner I talk to about QlikView 11 I get more excited. For the next few weeks, the product management and product marketing teams will be out in the field educating our internal technical and sales folks to get them up to speed on what’s coming in this new release. 

QlikView 11 training is under way.JPG

For QlikView 11, we’ve focused our investments in five theme areas:

  • Social Business Discovery. In QlikTech’s vision of the future of Business Discovery, a social and collaborative experience is front and center. Using concepts from the consumer world, social Business Discovery enables business users to collaborate on discoveries and generate multiplicative insights. Users collaborate on creation of analytic apps and can define and answer their own questions―in formal or informal groups. They communicate with each other in real time and asynchronously to collaboratively explore data, forge paths to discovery and insight, and arrive at decisions. They explore Business Discovery apps through a social lens to find the data and insights that are most relevant to them. With social Business Discovery, people can make unexpected discoveries that lead to better decisions and organizations can streamline the decision-making process.
  • Comparative analysis. One of the core unique capabilities of QlikView is its associative engine. QlikView 11 takes our associative analytics to a new level with comparative analysis. Business users can quickly and easily compare and interact with multiple different views or selection states dates of the data. This gives users new ways to spot trends, outliers, or differences.
  • Mobile Business Discovery. QlikView on Mobile delivers true Business Discovery and the full power of QlikView to the mobile device, including associative experience, interactive analysis, access to live data, and search. Mobile Business Discovery enables users to make decisions “on location"―people can take advantage of being in a particular place at a particular time.
  • Rapid analytic app platform. With Business Discovery, there are no “end” users. Instead, every user is the start of something, a node in the creation of information that is no longer highly centralized and radial. A rapid analytic app platform helps business users contribute to the creation of analysis quickly and simply―without requiring extensive ongoing involvement from IT. QlikView 11 includes new and improved capabilities that meet the needs of IT professionals and third-party software developers―as well as the needs of business users who want to create their own analytic apps: extensibility and improved application development.
  • Enterprise platform. While Business Discovery platforms must deliver business user benefits such as insight everywhere, mobility, and a social and collaborative experience, they can’t stop there. Business Discovery platforms must also meet IT requirements for security mechanisms to protect sensitive data, the ability to crunch massive volumes of data quickly, and advanced yet easy-to-use administration tools. QlikView 11 is packed with new and improved capabilities designed to improve performance of large deployments and make them easier for IT pros to secure and administer.

Stay tuned for more info!

According to The American Dialect Society, an app is “the shortened slang term for a computer or smart phone application.” With “app model” being one of the pillars of Business Discovery, I have been thinking a lot about the concept of apps. (For more info, please download the QlikView white paper, “Business Discovery: Powerful, User-Driven BI.”)

I’ve been thinking about the way Apple transformed software. They basically broke software up into little pieces and gave consumers a nice place to shop for the pieces. This same approach can be taken to analyzing data—even “big data", whose size is beyond the ability of typical database software tools. When you think about the real Business Discovery needs of business users, do people really need to have ten years of sales data at the transaction level coming from every single POS (point of sale) system in one particular analysis? Or do they need technology that enables them to discover whatever pieces of all this data are relevant to them?  If I as a business user can easily access relevant information from multiple business systems and interact with it with the speed of thought, why do I need a system that would deliver me billions rows of data where I have no clue where to start analyzing it?

Big Data.png

 

With QlikView’s app model, developers—or even business users themselves—can create lightweight Business Discovery apps they can use to load millions of rows of data from multiple data sources quickly and merge it in memory, so users can then explore the data quickly and easily. QlikView’s inference engine automatically maintains the associations among every piece of data stored in the app. In organizations where IT departments are the data governors, IT pros create the in-memory data models, which business users can then remix and reassemble into new views. With QlikView associative experience, business users can ask what they need to ask, and explore up, down, and sideways, pursuing their own path to insight in the big data.

 

Two key QlikView elements enabling the app model: AccessPoint and document chaining

There are also two other important QlikView capabilities in enabling the app approach to big data:

  • AccessPoint, the QlikView portal, is analogous to an internal app store for Business Discovery. Once a lightweight Business Discovery app is created by a business unit, it can be made available to other business units via AccessPoint. IT can quickly and easily deploy the app on AccessPoint with security rules in place so other business users can easily consume it.
    Document chaining can connect apps together. Let’s say you are analyzing sales for a particular product. You would like to see what consumers are saying about the product. You can open a Twitter analysis app, for example, from within the sales app, and can continue your Business Discovery journey on social media data without any interruptions.    
  • QlikView enables business users to “shorten” and “slang” data in their own way similarly to the way Apple shortened and “slanged” the world of software for us. I also believe that with QlikView the days of IT being challenged on how to handle big data and create hundreds of reports for users are giving way to a new era of purpose-built Business Discovery apps created by business users, consumed on AccessPoint. IT can then focus on its core competencies.


Apple’s apps concept changed how we think of software, how we pay for it, and also how we maintain it. The term “app” has become a part of our daily lives. The same thing will happen on big data analysis, and QlikView will have a big role to play.

I recently wrote about two of QlikView’s three major “uniqueness factors” (see “’That’s Not Art’ ‘Oh, Yes It Is!’” and “The Secret Sauce”). The third major QlikView differentiator is our customers’ Business Discovery adoption path. 

 

BD Adoption Path.png

Typically, with the QlikView Business Discovery platform:

  • It all begins with the personal edition. The QlikView craze starts this way: a business person — say, a marketing professional, supply chain manager, or member of the hospital administration staff — downloads the full version of QlikView Desktop for free from our web site. This personal edition enables users to do everything with QlikView Desktop that they can do with the full paid version — except share apps with other QlikView users.
  • The new user gets value immediately. Quickly, the new QlikView user is able to extract data from multiple sources and immediately begin to explore it — sometimes seeing the associations in the data for the very first time. The user solves a business problem or makes a decision using insights gleaned from QlikView. He shows the solution to colleagues, who also download and install the personal edition of QlikView. Then, so they can begin to share apps they have created, the workgroup or team purchases a handful of QlikView Desktop licenses.
  • A workgroup or team expands its deployment. In just days or weeks, QlikView solves a workgroup’s business problem — perhaps a problem that would have taken months or years to solve with traditional BI. Sometimes, traditional BI has failed to ever deliver a solution people can actually use. Typically, QlikView users are so ecstatic with their rapid success that they become internal champions for QlikView.
  • As more departments adopt, IT supports an enterprise deployment. Once a department is successful addressing multiple business problems, other departments take notice. More QlikView advocates emerge, and QlikView starts spreading across departments. Along the way, senior IT staff and executive team members take notice of productivity gains. With a string of successes, QlikView gets adopted throughout the enterprise.

The same Business Discovery app that began life as the brainchild of one person who downloaded the personal edition of QlikView can evolve into a server-based enterprise app deployed to thousands of users accessing it via multiple devices. The IT organization’s role in an enterprise QlikView deployment is to assemble data, deliver relevant data, enable self-service BI, and ensure security and scalability (see related blog post, “Self-Service BI: Power to ALL the People”). IT professionals are no longer tasked with creating data models, building a massive semantic layer, creating queries, and building reports.

For more info, please download the August, 2011 QlikView White Paper, What Makes QlikView Unique.

The Secret Sauce

Posted by Erica Driver Sep 6, 2011

In the recently-published QlikView White Paper, What Makes QlikView Unique, we described the set of characteristics that makes QlikView unique: an associative user experience, our core technology, and the Business Discovery adoption path. 

 

Secret sauce.png

 

QlikView is known as a pioneer in in-memory BI. In-memory technology is important for BI, for performance reasons. But just being in-memory isn’t all it takes to deliver a Business Discovery platform. It’s what the BI software does with in-memory technology that makes it special. The QlikView Business Discovery platform:

  • Holds data in memory for multiple users, for a super-fast user experience. QlikView holds all the data needed for analysis in memory, where it is available for immediate exploration by users. Users experience zero wait time as QlikView performs the calculations needed to deliver the aggregations users request. The secret sauce is how QlikView gets the calculations done quickly. QlikView is a multi-user, distributed environment; it stores common calculations and shares them among users, so the calculations don’t have to be redone every time someone needs them.
  • Maintains associations in the data automatically. QlikView’s inference engine enables the green / white / gray associative experience. This engine automatically maintains the associations among every piece of data in the entire data set used in an application — neither developers nor end users have to maintain the associations. As a result, users aren’t limited to static reports, pre-determined drill paths, or pre-configured dashboards. Instead, they can navigate their data up, down, and sideways, exploring it any way they want to.
  • Calculates aggregations on the fly as needed. QlikView’s inference engine calculates aggregations on the fly based on selections the user makes (which we call the “state” of the app). As a result, users aren’t limited to predefined calculations (and hence preconceived insights based on data joins made by IT). Users can define whatever view or type of insight they want and QlikView dynamically calculates the answer. QlikView only calculates the aggregations the user asks for; it does not pre-calculate aggregations the old queries-and-cubes way. It processes calculations instantaneously, as they are needed.
  • Compresses data to 10% of its original size. QlikView achieves a significant reduction in the size of the data used for analysis using a data dictionary (a hash table) and by using only the number of bits required. For example, the “day of the week” field has only seven possible field values, and these values are stored only once in memory, regardless of how many records contain each value. As a result, QlikView can scale to handle very large data sets without driving up hardware investment costs just to move an entire data set into memory.
  • Optimizes the power of the processor. QlikView distributes calculations across all available cores to maximize the performance experienced by the user. Unlike technologies that simply “support” multi-processor hardware, QlikView is optimized to take full advantage of all the power of multi-processor hardware, thereby maximizing performance and the hardware investment.

 

For more info, please download the August, 2011 QlikView White Paper, What Makes QlikView Unique.

Have you ever had the “that’s not art” argument? You love the painting but your friend tells you it is so bad it should never have made it into the museum. Fortunately, no matter how bad a piece is, there is a gallery wall that would welcome it (check out MOBA, the Museum of Bad Art).

Dog by unknown artist.jpg

I thought about the “is it art?” question as I was trying to come up with a way to air a little dirty laundry. Sometimes an artist may have difficulty communicating a complex concept. Perhaps they have an absolutely brilliant idea in mind, and they just can’t get it to come out through their fingers and the paintbrush. The dirty laundry I want to air is that my team at QlikTech (product marketing) went through a little bit of this during the last few quarters.

We looked in the mirror over and over and talked to lots of different people as we tried to create our self-portrait. The concept we had in our minds and wanted to communicate out to the world was the answer to: “What is it, exactly, that makes QlikView unique?” We repeatedly hear from our customers and partners that there’s something really special about QlikView, but what it is, specifically, depends on who you talk to.

We worked very hard and in February we created our first “painting.” (See the blog post, “The Five Things that Make QlikView Unique.”) But it soon became clear that a few of the facial features in our painting were a bit out of proportion, and others were missing entirely.

Today, six months later, I am proud to announce (drum roll . . . ) version two of our painting! The combination of three factors makes QlikView unique: an associative user experience, our core technology, and the Business Discovery adoption path (see figure below). Today we published a new QlikView White Paper, “What Makes QlikView Unique.” We hope you will read it and find it useful. And that the gallery walls it hangs on won’t be those of MOBA.

What Makes QlikView Unique.jpg

For more info, please download the August, 2011 QlikView White Paper, "What Makes QlikView Unique."

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