I recently read The Art of Immersion by self-described digital anthropologist Frank Rose – a book about how the Internet is changing storytelling. (Watch the video interview with Rose below.) Rose interviewed people like movie director James Cameron (director, Avatar), musician Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), and game designer Will Wright (The Sims) – all change agents who are redefining storytelling.

“All fine and dandy,” you might be thinking. “Storytelling is fun. But what does this have to do with Business Discovery?” In The Art of Immersion, Rose describes patterns he is seeing emerge across movies and television, games, and other forms of entertainment, all of which have implications for Business Discovery – in fact all of BI:

  • Storytelling is becoming more participatory, nonlinear, and immersive. The very concept of what a book is, for example, has changed. (See related blog post, “Storytelling with Data to Rally Support for Your Position”). According to Rose, “A new type of narrative is emerging—one that’s told through many media at once in a way that’s nonlinear, that’s participatory and often gamelike, and that’s designed above all to be immersive.” He also wrote, “The same tools that enable people to spontaneously coalesce online make it easy for them to start telling the story their way, if they care about it enough to do so.”
  • Storytelling helps reduce information overload. Rose made the point, “Stories are recognizable patterns, and in those patterns we find meaning. We use stories to make sense of our world and to share that understanding with others. They are the signal within the noise.”  If you can interact with data represented in colorful, visual ways and can share stories about the data, numbers can become the most interesting thing in the world. Data storytelling makes it easier for the human mind to sift through the dirt to find what’s relevant in the archeological dig.

The very concept of an audience–a passive group that absorbs whatever you give them–is outdated. Today the term “participants” is more accurate. This is true not just for  movies, video games, and books, but for BI as well. Interested in data storytelling? See these related Business Discovery Blog posts:

•          “Bombillo Amarillo and the Importance of Data Storytelling,” July 3, 2012

•          “Enchanting with Data,” May 30, 2012

•          “Data Brings Joy to People,” May 24, 2012

•          “Storytelling with Data to Rally Support for Your Position,” March 5, 2012

•          “Storytelling with Data Helps Us Internalize Meaning,” July 21, 2011

•          “Tell Me a Story,” May 25, 2011

•          “QlikView and the Power of Storytelling,” March 8, 2011.

Joe Parker

QlikMarket Grand Opening!

Posted by Joe Parker Sep 20, 2012

Want to analyze social media data in QlikView? Visualize the geographic dimensions of your data? Connect to back-end systems like Oracle Essbase or 1C: Enterprise? Now it’s easier than ever before to find QlikView extensions, connectors, and apps that do these things and more. Where? In the newly-launched QlikMarket solution exchange.

QlikMarket Launch.JPG

 

QlikMarket represents a whole new benefit to QlikView customers. The old way for a customer to find a QlikView extension, connector to a specific data source, or an app specific to their vertical or job function was to do an internet search. Or maybe ten searches using different keywords. Even then, you still  might miss something important if you didn’t get the keyword combination right. Now you can quickly search for solutions by keyword, industry, job function, or solution type right in QlikMarket.

Comparing solutions was always difficult as well. Customers can browse solutions in QlikMarket, compare solutions with others of the same ilk, and check out demos. User reviews let you find out what your peers think about the solution. Customers download some solutions, most likely connectors and extensions, directly. For more extensive applications that require some consultation or configuration, customers are referred to the partner through QlikMarket.

Before QlikMarket, quality was always a question. Now, every solution that gets listed is reviewed by my team to make sure that the functionality works as described,  solves a real problem, and that the solution meets our expectations regarding quality and usability.

The team is very excited about the launch. People ask me what the most exciting aspect is of managing this new initiative at QlikTech has been. Aside from being part of something completely new to us, it’s the contagious excitement our partners have about QlikMarket. As soon as we began to talk about the idea with our partners, there was great momentum. Since they started contributing solutions to QlikMarket they’ve been very competitive about being the most downloaded or the highest rated, which was a bit of a surprise, but it’s been fun to watch.

Any QlikTech partner interested in listing their QlikView connector, extension, or application in QlikMarket can apply via the Qonnect Partner Portal.

Imagine traveling to Uganda to explore the African landscape and talk with people in local communities about how HOPEHIV has helped them . . . alone, all by yourself. It would probably be an enlightening trip, and you’d probably make some interesting discoveries. But it also might be a bit lonely sometimes. Now imagine going on this trip with friends and colleagues (as some of my QlikTech colleagues currently are – check out their blog “Seeing Hope in Uganda” and the video they posted recently).

Exploring with others enables you to layer multiple different perspectives together. To see and point out different sides of the same coin. To beat back omission bias. (See the related blog post, “Business Decision-Making Lessons from a Blackjack Pro.”) To share and bounce ideas off each other. To reach conclusions you may never have come to on your own. To help document a shared experience.

The benefits of exploring together extend beyond world travel to Business Discovery. A solo person having access to Business Discovery software can leap ahead of where they were before they had tools for navigating and exploring data, deriving unexpected insights, and making discoveries. But the benefits are compounded when multiple people can explore together.

A team of people may be using an analytic app simultaneously, clicking around and making selections as they talk through the challenge they face or problem they’re trying to solve. One person may identify a field value that is unassociated with other field values, and the team may dive into an inquiry about why. By exploring together in an analytic app simultaneously, a group or team of people can cut through the static that gets in the way of clear, fast communication and get to answers and decisions more quickly.

Even when people can’t be online at the same time it’s important that they are still able to explore together. Capabilities like threaded discussions and shared bookmarks enable people to explore data together asynchronously. One person may have an observation and post it to a discussion thread in an app, along with a snapshot that preserves the app’s current state. A team member may come into the app, click on that comment and snapshot, make a few more clicks in the app, come up with an explanation, and add that to the discussion.

Whether simultaneously or asynchronously, most people find benefit in exploring together with others – regardless of whether we’re talking about travel or Business Discovery. The software we use for exploration should make this as easy as possible. To learn more about QlikView’s collaboration capabilities see the Social Business Discovery section of our web site.

Thanks to inputs from more than a dozen BI experts at QlikTech, during the last couple of weeks I’ve written several articles about potholes in the road to delivering BI projects. (List is below.) This article is the last in the series, and highlights a couple of final potholes having to do with the right stuff: good data and good analytic tools.

data and tools.png

Very often, we see organizations face issues with:

  • Data consistency. BI projects can take major damage when they hit the data consistency pothole. A company might have on record eight different variations of the name of the same partner, for example. Or one business unit might count an entity as a customer at the end of the first month that entity makes a payment while another business unit defines an entity as a customer the minute the first order is placed, before payment is received.
  • BI software that is inflexible and hard to use. Organizations that want to be nimble need motivated and adaptable people. Those people, in turn, need flexible, friendly tools. In many organizations, though, even when people are motivated to move fast, the software tools they have at their disposal have a long, slow learning curve that inhibits their ability to be nimble.

For example, the ETL (extract, transform, and load) process – just one step in a traditional BI project – can be an enormous hurdle. And many BI platforms consist of multiple layers in a stack, each with its own technical skill set requirements. Different people often look after each layer of the stack (e.g., data warehouse, ETL, and report writing) and it is incumbent upon them to communicate effectively.

It is important that the app developer and business requestor validate data by comparing the source to the destination and comparing various occurrences of the same metric within an analytic app and across multiple apps. Part of IT’s role is to ensure that the data IT provides to business users for consumption in analytic apps is prepared, cleansed, and governed – yet granular enough to provide value. And in this age of empowerment, analytic software that is flexible and easy to use should top the priorities list for any BI project – these are two primary characteristics that can make or break user acceptance and adoption.

(This is the fourth and final article in the “Potholes of BI” series featuring insights from the following BI experts at QlikTech: Chaitanya Avasarala, Miguel Angel Baeyens, Gary Beach, David P. Braune, Greg Brooks, Annette Jonker, John Linehan, Brad Peterman, Olaf Rasenberg, Mike Saliter, Chris Sault, Matthew Stephen, Christof Schwarz, and Mark Wine.)

See these related posts:

•          “Lined Up and Ready to Go: Episode 1 in the ‘Potholes of BI’ Series

•          “The Elephant and the Cheetah: Episode 2 in the ‘Potholes of BI’ Series

•          “The Wrong Trousers: Episode 3 in the ‘Potholes of BI’ Series

In the Oscar-winning animated Wallace & Gromit movie, The Wrong Trousers, Wallace rents out a spare room in his house to a criminal penguin who uses Wallace in a robbery involving a pair of mechanical trousers. You don’t want to get into a sticky situation like Wallace with your BI project.

Wallace and the wrong trousers.jpgImage source: www.wallaceandgromit.com

This leads us to a few more potholes of BI:

  • The wrong measurements. The wrong measurements can be just as bad as the wrong trousers. Many project teams measure BI success by the size of their assets (e.g., size of a query, size of a database or data warehouse, or number of layers in the BI stack). Instead, a good measure of BI success is the quality and volume of business insights a BI platform can deliver compared to the cost of setting it up.

As a result of measuring the wrong things, project teams can sometimes get so wrapped up in optimizing for volume that they are paralyzed into inaction – always waiting for the perfect data, perfect appliance, perfect delivery platform, or perfect scenarios for deployment. The dirty secret is that this is an impossible goal. Economies, markets, competitive environments, and businesses change constantly so perfection in BI is an always-moving target.

  • Inadequate user training. In The Wrong Trousers, Gromit uses his “Techno-Trousers Manual” but still has trouble figuring out what the red buttons do and what the blue buttons do.  He pushes a button and finds himself shooting across the room.

Of course business users can navigate to a web-based analytic app without the need for training. But even with self-service BI, business users need help understanding what the data means and what the fastest paths are to the answers they are seeking. Part of the reason for this is the legacy of static reports and pre-configured dashboards; most business users who sit down in front of an interactive analytic app for the first time don’t realize what flexibility they have before them, and could use a walk-through to get them started.

(This article is the third in a multi-part series featuring insights from many BI experts at QlikTech: Chaitanya Avasarala, Miguel Angel Baeyens, Gary Beach, David P. Braune, Greg Brooks, Annette Jonker, John Linehan, Brad Peterman, Olaf Rasenberg, Mike Saliter, Chris Sault, Matthew Stephen, Christof Schwarz, and Mark Wine. See the related posts, “Lined Up and Ready to Go: Episode 1 in the 'Potholes of BI' Series” and “The Elephant and the Cheetah: Episode 2 in the ‘Potholes of BI’ Series.”)

You don’t want to be an elephant if you’re a BI (business intelligence) project. Nothing against elephants – they are beautiful creatures, the largest land animals on earth. Elephants have good memories and high intelligence. But if you’re a BI project you want to be a cheetah. Cheetahs are the fastest land animal on earth, having clocked in around 75 miles per hour, with the ability to accelerate from zero to 62 miles an hour in three seconds flat.

Elephant and cheetah.png

This leads us to a few more potholes of BI:

  • Projects that are too big to succeed. In the age of mega-mergers and government bailouts, we frequently hear the term “too big to fail.” But in the world of BI, “too big to succeed” is more common. If the scope of a BI project is too broad, it takes too long for the project team to deliver value.
  • Inadequate project planning and structure. Without having a clear project plan outlining roles, responsibilities, timelines, and dependencies, it’s almost impossible to meet users’ expectations for BI projects. Scope creep takes root. Security is an afterthought. Users get poor performance because the business requestor asks for “all the available data,” IT asks why, the requestor says, "in case I need it," and the result is huge and slow.
  • No BI center of excellence. Frequently, we see excellent methods and ideas that originate in one part of an organization not get communicated to other areas. Good practices are not widely implemented or re-used, resulting in duplicate efforts and sub-optimal performance overall.

Cross-functional collaborative centers of excellence ensure that barriers are broken down not only between IT and other parts of the organization, but among business units and across geographic locations.  Centers of excellence, along with executive sponsorship, can encourage quicker, wider acceptance of BI solutions and practices across the enterprise.

With BI projects, think cheetah. It is a good practice to have a clear goal and to work in small iterations. Developers co-create analytic apps with the business requestors either in person or via a remote real-time collaboration session. The project team demonstrates value quickly by creating prototypes and getting them into users’ hands right away. The project team gets input and feedback from business users immediately and moves apps along to production at a rapid pace. Everyone is happy.

(This article is the second in a multi-part series featuring insights from many BI experts at QlikTech: Chaitanya Avasarala, Miguel Angel Baeyens, Gary Beach, David P. Braune, Greg Brooks, Annette Jonker, John Linehan, Brad Peterman, Olaf Rasenberg, Mike Saliter, Chris Sault, Matthew Stephen, Christof Schwarz, and Mark Wine. (See the related blog post, “Lined Up and Ready to Go: Episode 1 in the 'Potholes of BI' Series” and stay tuned for more!)

This summer we announced the QlikView Academic Program, which gives higher education institutions around the world access to QlikView for use in educational curricula. On the heels of that announcement, we launched a private QlikCommunity group specifically for members of the Academic Program. To find out more, I spoke with Caryl Yenny, senior manager education services programs and products.

QlikView backback.png

It’s all about community. We launched this new site to give professors and students a “third place” – a global, social environment separate from the two usual social environments of home and the workplace (or school). On this QlikCommunity site, professors and students will be able to learn from and share with others using QlikView around the globe. Professors can share tips on how to embed QlikView usage in a course, where to get good data sets, etc. Students can see what other students are creating with QlikView and can get answers to questions they may have regarding functionality or best practices.

The QlikView Academic Program formalizes our practice of supporting higher educational institutions. Wenhong Luo, Associate Professor at Villanova School of Business, Villanova University, has used QlikView in his business intelligence courses for undergraduate MIS (masters of information systems) majors and MBA classes since the fall of 2009. He said, “I was looking for a BI software tool that would help students better understand BI concepts and development principles. QlikView fits perfectly with what I tried to do. It is easy to install and easy to learn. I like QlikView’s business/data discovery approach to BI.”

Are you an educator at a higher educational institution? Are you teaching political science, social science, history, or BI? Do you have a need to provide your students with powerful yet user-friendly Business Discovery software they can use to find insights in data, and make new discoveries? Do you want to be part of a private QlikCommunity group to facilitate collaboration among QlikView users in the academic field? Join the QlikView Academic Program to be a part of it all.

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