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.