When I was at the Qonnections 2011 Partner Summit in Miami (see this related blog post), I met Douglas Robbins and Rakesh Mehta of QlikView partner DI Squared. DI Squared is an Atlanta-based solution provider focused on QlikView implementations that feature huge data sets, complex data models, and integration with SAP and other ERP systems.

This week I spoke with Doug and Rakesh in more detail about "a-ha" moments they've experienced with QlikView. They told a story about a large manufacturing company where they both worked, where Doug was VP of applications and Rakesh was IT director.

The business problem: no cohesive view of customer profitability

At this manufacturing company, executives had limited visibility into customer purchases, the profitability of customers by product line and overall, and market share across various product lines. As a result, executives would go out on the road and sit down with a customer only to find out that they were trying to sell customers products they didn't really want or need. They had limited ability to cross-sell into accounts, or to focus their efforts in such a way as to increase market share against competitors. What the sales executives needed was a single view of the customer that showed what customers had and hadn't purchased, as well as customer profitability from high level down to the finest level of detail.

The technology problem: no way to get at the "mother of all cubes"

For many years, the IT organization had tried to produce a single view of the customer out of the company's SAP Business Warehouse (BW). BW contained a complex, highly customized OLAP cube that had more than 100 million large records and lots of fields. The complex design was needed to meet the needs of the company's global sales organization and attempt to get a 360 degree view of the customer.

Many times, the IT team tried to access this cube to produce a single view of the customer. They tried Business Objects, Cognos, and Microsoft. Nothing worked--until a QlikView consultant came in.

The solution: a QlikView-based customer cockpit

Within a week, the QlikView consultant created a customer dashboard, leveraging data in the SAP system. It was "amazing to see," in Rakesh's words. There on one screen was all the relevant data about the products a customer had purchased and profitability of the customer by product line as well as overall. Users could make selections to filter the data any way they liked: by product, customer, region, profitability, etc.

Behind the scenes was a complex data model like the one shown above. But the business user experience was clean and straightforward?and users were not restricted by limited data or predetermined drill paths. Executives could now take customized printouts from the QlikView-based customer cockpit with them on their travels, to prepare for their sales calls. Reports contained info about the top accounts in the region based on whatever criteria the user wanted. Executives had never had this level of insight into customer profitability before.

What made QlikView so compelling?

In addition to rapid time to value, QlikView stole the show due to:

  • Transparency. The IT team had confidence in QlikView because they could see and review every line of script. This was a very different experience from dealing with consultants who worked with traditional BI solutions?they would come in, work for many days, and leave a black box behind.
  • Flexibility. Rakesh and Doug?and the executives they supported?were impressed by the ease with which they could add dimensions and dril -downs into detailed data in new ways. Previously unheard-of flexibility was a huge part of the "a-ha" experience.

As a result of its success with QlikView, the company decommissioned SAP's BW for sales and marketing users. This generated huge IT cost savings. And once Doug and Rakesh understood the ease and speed of deploying quality BI solutions to businesses, they were sold on becoming a QlikView partner and helping other businesses achieve similar quick time to value. Thus the launch of DI Squared.

When Netscape Navigator gained popularity in the mid 90's, the web browser was seen simply as a tool for reading information on the internet. The user experience on the browser was limited at the time, but it served its purpose as the primary vehicle for web content delivery. By the late 90's, there were multiple browsers available for different computing platforms, that all shared the HTML standard.

Over time, developers and users realized that interactive applications could be delivered through the web browser. This approach offered a number of advantages for both consumers and businesses. Vendors ranging from web ecommerce to internal enterprise systems began to deploy end user functionality through web browsers instead of 'fat' clients.

Today, the web browser is the dominant form factor for many, if not most, applications. In some cases, it serves as the only way to access applications (e.g. Salesforce.com), and in others it serves as a fully functional alternative to desktop apps (e.g. Google Docs, Microsoft Outlook). With HTML5 and other technologies, browsers have matured to the point where applications can be delivered with the same rich user functionality as desktop applications.

Mobile applications are on the same path

In a similar fashion, mobile applications are in the early stages of the same path. Today, people view the mobile browser as a content delivery vehicle with most vendors opting to build native applications for mobile devices. This trend has largely been fueled by the overwhelming success of Apple's app store and their preference for vendors to build specifically for iOS devices.

However, with the proliferation of different types of mobile devices and form factors, the need for a cross-platform browser solution is once again becoming critical. In addition, mobile browser technology is reaching the level where it is fully HTML5 compliant and can deliver robust and appealing user experiences on par with natively built applications. Once again, we are seeing a shift towards browser technology and the advantages it brings.

The advantages of a browser based approach

A browser based approach offers many benefits when building and deploying enterprise applications:

  • Consistent, device neutral user experience - Allows the same applications to be deployed and experienced in the same fashion across not only different mobile devices, but laptops and desktops as well.
  • Server based processing and data access - Does not limit application functionality based on the limited power of the mobile device, instead leverages the server to provide fully capable applications with complete, live data sets.
  • Improved manageability - Promotes a 'build once deploy anywhere' approach for vendors and customers, eliminating the need to rebuild the same applications to work on different platforms.
  • Enterprise level security - Allows security to be handled on the server side, meaning that data and application entitlements and access restrictions are managed centrally, and work without additional effort across platforms.
  • Independence from third-party app stores - Eliminates reliance on third party approval processes for software updates, reducing supply-side risk for customers and allowing them to work directly with vendors.

QlikView

Given QlikView's emphasis on delivering simplicity, speed, and value, the browser approach is the perfect fit for our technology and customers. As the number of mobile devices on the market continues to expand, we foresee others in the industry following suit. What do you think?

Data from thousands of customers supports the fact that QlikView deployments can handle many thousands of users and can address huge data quantities. An important characteristic of QlikView is that deployments scale uniformly as the organization adds more data and users. In a new video series, John Callan, a senior director of global product marketing at QlikTech, offers guidance and examples for how to scale QlikView based on widely-ranging requirements.

 


The QlikView Scalability Video Series

The series has five parts:

  1. Video one: QlikView scalability overview. This video covers the major QlikView components and how they fit together: QlikView Developer, QlikView Server, and QlikView Publisher. It covers the core message that end user performance scales uniformly with CPU capacity and data volumes, as well as with RAM and data volumes. It provides an overview of the high-level concepts covered in the following four videos in the series.
  2. Video two: QlikView system resource usage. With QlikView, all data to be used for analysis is stored in random-access memory (RAM). The amount of RAM needed is dependent on the number of applications running on the server at any given time. Data volumes and current number of users' requests also play a part in the number of processor resources required. As IT adds more CPU cores, user response times follow a predictable pattern. Hard drive usage only becomes a consideration in deployments where the organization has many QlikView applications or QlikView data files (QVDs).
  3. Video three: Scaling by data. We recommend that customers adhere to an architectural design process to determine the hardware needed to support the data in an initial QlikView deployment. It's important to establish baseline characteristics early in the process. The design of each individual application is a major factor.
  4. Video four: Scaling by users. QlikView Server and QlikView Publisher instances can be clustered and load balanced, for positive impact on user performance. Each additional user requires additional RAM.
  5. Video five: Scaling by apps. Typically, QlikView deployments start small, and then grow to become departmental and eventually enterprise-scale. The same core application can be used across these scenarios. We recommend a staged approach to deploying applications. At the simplest end, a single-tier build can accommodate prototypes and initial discovery. At the more complex end of the spectrum, the more complex four-tier mixed builds are used when the development (back end) and design (front end) are split between a technical team and a business team.

For more details about QlikView scalability, stay tuned for a soon-to-be published QlikView Technology White Paper titled, "QlikView Scalability."

Unlike traditional business intelligence, mobile Business Discovery enables users to forge new paths and make new discoveries--wherever they are. Users are not limited to predefined paths they must follow, or questions they must formulate ahead of time. Wherever they happen to be, they can ask what they need to ask and explore their data up, down, and sideways rather than only drilling down.

A new white paper is available: "Mobility Is Exploding: Are You Ready?" This white paper, written by CITO Research, describes five use cases for mobile Business Discovery. These are: pharmaceutical sales reps (sales preparation), field service technicians (service), retail store managers and category managers (crossing lines of business), hospital direct materials managers (procurement), and retail bank financial advisors (sales coaching).

 

You can download this white paper in its entirety here: "Mobility Is Exploding: Are You Ready?" To learn more about the new iPad solution for QlikView, download the data sheet, "QlikView on Mobile."

"When was the last time you did something for the first time?"

This is the opening salvo in?and the subtitle of?the recently-published book Poke the Box by best-selling author Seth Godin. Godin wrote Poke the Box as a "rant" or "manifesto" about the importance of initiating things at work--of starting up and taking action.

Getting off our seats and making things happen is important because the pace of change in business keeps increasing. Customer feedback is instantaneous, in this world of social media. Competitors are popping up in new corners of the globe. And product development cycles are shrinking. But organizations can't move fast unless people take action, push go, and start and ship their projects.

Easier said than done, though, right?

The trouble is, many of us are saddled with fear. Fear of making the wrong choice. Fear of starting up a project that fails. Fear of saying yes to a project without having adequate information. "How to invent and choose and stick with or abandon ideas, how to select and predict and forecast the future of a project?this is all difficult," Godin acknowledges. "We hold back, promise to do more research, wait for a better moment, seek out a kinder audience. This habit . . . eats up our genius and destroys our ability to make the contribution we're quite capable of making." All this fear can lead to inaction.

Start projects more easily, with less fear and anxiety

As I was reading Poke the Box I was thinking that QlikView is a tool for the "yes people"?the initiators, the starters. Also for those who want to be yes people but need to be able to make decisions on more than a hunch. QlikView can help you start, initiate, go?with less fear. How? When you explore data with QlikView?looking for associations and outliers, asking and answering questions based on insights you derive from the data?you are able to make data-based discoveries and decisions.

QlikView users can pursue their own leads, follow their own thought paths, and derive their own insights. They can look at all the data relevant to a decision, regardless of how many source systems the data comes from. Once the data is brought in memory and associated based on key fields, the "yes person" can explore the data, making selections and seeing not only what data is related but also what data is unrelated. (See related blog posts and videos here and here.) He or she can explore the data, making discoveries that make it clear which projects are most worthy of investment.

A critical element of this is that the data that supports QlikView discoveries and the resulting decisions is (typically) a trusted source of shared data. It could be cost or sales numbers, customer data, or information about products and parts. The data could come from an enterprise data warehouse, enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, or departmental budget spreadsheet. My point is that it may be easier to get buy-in for project ideas that are based on hard, cold data?compared to projects someone wants to do because they seem cool, or the person had a hunch.

Create a culture of "poking the box"

QlikView can help organizations develop a culture in which more people are encouraged to initiate, make decisions, start projects, ship their work. Godin describes the modern organization, in which "What might be considered a board-level decision at one of your competitors' companies gets done as a matter of course. What might be reserved for a manager's intervention gets handled at the customer level, saving you time and money (and generating customer joy)." With QlikView, organizations can push insight creation and decision-making out to the edges.

The icing on the cake: the joy of discovery

On top of the competitive imperative, there is joy and satisfaction in discovery of the unexpected. Godin writes, "What makes our work and our life interesting is discovery, surprise, and the risk of exploration. Joy comes from surprise and connection and humanity and transparency and new." Godin draws an analogy to visiting a haunted house. "Curiosity drives us to the haunted house because the thrills lie in what we don't expect, not in what's safe. Curiosity can start us down the path to shipping, to bringing things to the world, to examining them, refining them, and repeating the process again (and again)."

[QlikView is a tool for the curious. Check out this blog post by Shawn Helwig, manager of business intelligence and CRM consulting at Wipfli (a QlikTech partner): "Intellectual Curiosity…Can QlikView Change Corporate Culture?" Also see the related QlikView blog post, "QlikView as a Change Agent."]

The user interface for touch screen mobile devices such as iPad is different from the UI for laptop or desktop computers in two primary ways: screen real estate and user interaction mechanism (touch screen vs. keyboard and mouse). QlikView developers should take these important differences into account when designing QlikView applications. Timed with the release of our newest QlikView on Mobile functionality in QlikView 10 service release (SR) 2, we thought we'd share with you a few best practices for designing QlikView apps that users will access via iPads. These practices come to you courtesy of Shima Nakazawa, QlikTech's Director of Demos and Best Practices.

Design for limited space
Because of the limited real estate on an iPad, plan out which objects to place on a sheet and eliminate unnecessary objects. Build to the native iPad resolution - even though an iPad screen size is 1024 x 768 pixels, its native resolution is slightly smaller. The best resolution you can design QlikView application for is 980 x 590 with a tab row, and 980 x 610 without a tab row. Use portrait mode when your app contains mainly a long list of records in a table, and landscape mode to display visual charts and graphs. When including many charts in one sheet, put the charts in a container object so users can interact with one larger-sized object at a time. Use list boxes for the most frequently-used fields and a search object for other fields. If multiple charts are sharing the same field, use consistent colors so one legend can refer to multiple objects. Steer clear of too much text in charts and graphs; consider using a data table in these cases.

Make sure the most important information is visible
Because of the limited space, but you may have a tendency to use small font sizes to open up space for more objects. Keep users' reading comfort in mind. Make everything visible and easy to navigate. We recommend a minimum 11pt font size. Use Arial or other font faces that are supported in iPad browser?not fonts that can be found only on desktop computers. Also remember that people will navigate through the user interface with their fingers, which means that each touch point must be large enough to point at with a finger, not a mouse.

Focus on usability
On an iPad, there is no mouse pointer or right click. Be sure to implement only functionality that makes sense to use with the touch of a finger. Make sure all objects are easy to navigate and interact with. For example, always include an object that displays current selections (applied filters). To make it apparent how people should interact with applied filters, provide buttons for actions like "clear," "forward," and "back." Use search objects instead of multi-boxes. Don't require a "mouse-over" for charts and graphs, given that this is not possible without a mouse. Lastly, use standard icons on your objects, such as a "clear" icon for simple navigation in a list box and a "menu" icon for the full list of options for interacting with a field.

By taking these guidelines to heart, you'll be able to create QlikView on Mobile apps that are easy to navigate and easy to interact with, and take advantage of both the screen real estate of mobile devices and the touch screen user interaction mechanism.

HR Analytics and Creating Value

Posted by mmy Apr 11, 2011

According to a recent article in the McKinsey Quarterly, companies should hunt for value in their "people data." The article contained several good examples, including a retailer that identified and tested key attributes that defined successful retail salespeople when hiring to increase sales and salesperson job satisfaction.

The cost to implement effective talent screening can vary dramatically depending on the size and demographics of the sales force, the products being sold, and the experience of the implementers. However, in some cases, reps hired through screening tests have been known to sell 2% more on average than those who have not gone through screening. So, for a company with $1 Billion sales (from its retail sales reps), this comes to an extra $20 million in revenues each year upon complete replacement with the new better performing reps. For reps selling high profit margin items, this leads to a sizeable increase in cash flow as well as happier sales reps which should lead to higher retention and happier customers.

With the right Business Discovery platform, companies can quickly analyze and identify reps with historically high turnover rates and high costs to acquire, who are responsible for high volume, high profit margin items over regions, stores and time. The benefits derived from screening these types of reps would best offset the total costs of a well executed screening process.

In this 7-minute video, QlikView product manager for connectivity Ian Crosland gives a sneak peek into how QlikView can extend the value of existing SAP™ investments. He demonstrates how developers create QlikView apps that utilize SAP data?in this case using the SQL connector.

 

 

Steps to creating a QlikView application using SAP data

  1. The developer selects the SQL connector to populate the script builder application with the data dictionary files from SAP R/3™. The script builder maps the cryptic SAP table nomenclature to meaningful business descriptors. The script builder imports SAP metadata (table names and descriptions) and translates it into any language the organization has active in the SAP data dictionary.
  2. The QlikView developer then uses the script builder to develop an analysis application looking at sales information, for example. Once the data is imported into QlikView and stored in memory, the developer can then browse through tables and peruse the data model. He can run functions, add fields, and change field names, as well as create list boxes, tables, and charts.
  3. Users can immediately begin analyzing and interacting with their SAP data and add additional analyses from the prebuilt data model.

For more information about QlikView works with SAP, see related blog posts here and here and here. Or download the data sheet for the QlikView Connector for use with SAP NetWeaver®. We have also made prebuilt templates covering typical SAP™ modules available, such as this example for accounts payable (AP) here.

This week at the Qonnections 2011 Global Partner Summit in Miami, we held our first-ever QlikTech-sponsored Social Media Meetup. We held this happy-hour event to celebrate the influential leaders in the QlikView social media communityprimarily Twitter and the QlikCommunity. A couple dozen members of the community gathered to make new connections, talk to QlikTech folks and special guest Gartner analyst Rita Sallam, and get some face time with people they are already connected to online. (As an aside, here's a link to the tweet stream from Qonnections 2011.)



The event was a big success. Lots of fun was had by all. Overheard during the event:

  • "I get up at 4:00 in the morning to check the QlikCommunity forums. I tend to what needs attention, then go downstairs and have my breakfast."
  • "This meetup was awesome. I got to be with the stars of the QlikView community."
  • "It's great to be able to match up the Twitter handle with a name and a face."
  • "I didn't think ____ would be so short / tall."
  • "It's you!!" (accompanied by a huge smile).
  • "I was thrilled to run into ____. He just answered a question for me on QlikCommunity."

Engaging with Us via the QlikCommunity

QlikCommunity is the global online community for QlikView, bringing together developers and business professionals to interact, learn and share their experiences. To help you get started quickly, here is a link to the "Top Members" page on QlikCommunity. You must be a registered member and signed into the community to view this page.

 

 

 

 

Engaging with Us via Twitter

And to get started interacting with the QlikView community on Twitter, here are some active contributors to follow: @bardessgroup, @bri_tri2, @camargos, @dholowack, @DimitriPietersz, @donalddotfarmer (QlikView Product Advocate Donald Farmer), @EduardoCorsi, @EricaDriver (that's me!), @gdollen, @gillespol, @jmichel_franco, @jsboehm (QlikTech VP Product Marketing Jeff Boehm), @johnsonio, @larryoverstreet, @libertyhere, @mabaeyens, @MarcAlgera, @mateusmorato, @meneerharmsen, @nickjewell, @nicksatch, @noelyshannon, @projectbrokers, @QlikMex, @QlikView (QlikCommunity community manager Jason Long), @quintelligence, @realbenhodgson, @sbhelwig, @spastorcilaos, @stephencredmond, @techChirag, @TIQview, @Ungvall, and @Wit_BI.

QlikCommunity and Twitter are just two of the many ways to engage with the QlikView community. We're also starting to see activity heat up on Quora, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Got someone to add to this list (including yourself)? Or should we be paying attention to additional QlikView community channels? Post it in a comment.

Yesterday we broadcast the premier episode of QlikTV live from our Qonnections 2011 Global Partner Summit in Miami, Florida. This half hour episode was called "Business Discovery: The Next Generation of BI" and featured an interview with QlikTech's VP of Global Marketing Doug Laird.

Doug is the driving force behind QlikTech's Business Discovery strategy and positioning. He shared his thoughts about Business Discovery and answered questions from a live audience. Some people were in the room with us at Qonnections and others participated via online chat.

To watch the replay, click the image below. Click the "Videos" tab to the right and select "QlikTV from Qonnections 2011."

Doug Laird on Business Discovery

In this interview, Doug described Business Discovery as a new kind of business intelligence focused on business users. It enables business users to explore their data quickly and easily. Information is crafted so the business user sees just the information that is relevant to their business problem.

In this age of the empowered consumer, people are having a powerful technology experience with iPhones and iPads, iTunes, Google, and Facebook. They come into the workplace and expect a similarly user-friendly experience. Business Discovery delivers on that expectation.

Business Discovery works with what you have and infuses new capabilities into BI: insight everywhere, zero-wait analysis, an app-driven model, remixability and reassembly, a social and collaborative experience, and mobility. You can find more details in the QlikView White Paper, "Business Discovery: The Next Generation of BI."

About QlikTV
QlikTV is a series of live interviews with QlikTech executives and QlikView experts on topics of interest to the QlikView community. Each half-hour episode will be broadcast live over the Internet at www.qlik.com/qliktv. There, you'll be able to watch and listen to the interviews and interact with each other and our special guests via text chat.

Please let me know what other topics you'd like to hear about during future episodes of QlikTV. You can comment on this post or send me an email at erica.driver@qlik.com.

At QlikTech we are launching an experimental program called QlikTV, a series of live interviews with QlikTech executives and QlikView experts on topics that are of interest to the QlikView community. Each half-hour episode will be broadcast live over the Internet at www.qlik.com/qliktv. There, you'll be able to watch and listen to the interviews and interact with each other and our special guests via text chat.

 

 

Please join us for the premier episode of QlikTV on Monday at 3:30PM EDT

Interested in QlikTech's Business Discovery strategy? Even if you can't make it to Qonnections next week, you can participate in an interview with Doug Laird, VP of Marketing. We'll broadcast live, in front of a live audience, from Qonnections on Monday.

  • Who: An interview with Doug Laird, QlikTech VP Marketing
  • What: A half-hour interview about Business Discovery. What is Business Discovery? How does QlikView deliver on our vision of Business Discovery? What does Business Discovery mean for QlikTech partners? Join us to interact directly with the QlikTech executive who is the driving force behind our Business Discovery strategy.
  • When: Monday, April 4th from 3:30-4:00PM EDT (Miami time)
  • Where: Live from the Qonnections partner summit in Miami, Florida and online at www.qlik.com/qliktv. (Qonnections attendees: see your summit agenda for location specifics.)
  • Why: Learn about Business Discovery straight from the source. Learn what makes QlikTech stand out among BI software vendors. Get answers to your questions about Business Discovery.

QlikTV is a new series of events. Please comment on this post with ideas for topics you'd like to hear about or speakers you'd like to hear from via QlikTV. Or send me an email at erica.driver@qlik.com.

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