Last Friday, QlikTech CEO and President Lars Björk was interviewed on Fox Business News following QlikTech’s Q3 earnings announcement. Here’s a link to the video. I’ve also pulled out some of the highlights from Lars’ comments. My favorite one is his answer to the question about his confidence in continuing to compete with software companies that are much bigger than we are: “Of course we can. We show every day that we do it.”

Lars on Fox Biz News Oct 2011.JPG

 

Fox Business: What is the secret of your success?

 

Lars Björk: I think the secret is a piece of software that we developed. We put a great team together. We target the common challenge of businesses. How can you make better decisions with all the facts that you have, drive up and drive down expenses? More important now than ever.

 

Fox Business: Companies are dealing with a lot of pressures. What’s your elevator pitch to get clients to make that outlay for your software?

 

Lars Björk: It’s focusing on what their specific problem is, whatever that industry is. Is it gaining insight into something? Is it gaining  time? Or is it reducing cost? It’s being very, very specific. And most importantly, being able to deliver in a short of time.

 

Fox Business: You are competing with a lot of big boys like Oracle and SAP. What’s your biggest challenge? You only have 2% share of the market. What do you see as the landscape as you grow?

 

Lars Björk: I think we have a great opportunity. What we have ahead of us is more of an execution game. I think what we benefit from is we sell something that is self-service in our space. We sell something that is quick time to value. And we’ve shown over the last 10 years that we can outgrow competition. So we are catching up to them.

 

Fox Business: Do you have any concerns about trying to compete with other companies that have bigger budgets?

 

Lars Björk: Not at all. We show every day that we do it.

 

Fox Business: You have some big customers. As you talk to executives in these companies, what is your sense of the outlook? What is your sense of the level of optimism right now?

 

Lars Björk: I think the sense that you see in news that there is a big problem out there isn’t what I hear from customers. Whether you are in Europe or the U.S, I think the sentiment is still that, yes, “I want to run my business efficiently.” But it’s an optimistic view. I’ve just traveled in Europe. And what you see on the news in the U.S. isn’t represented in what you see in general in European business life.

 

Fox Business: A lot of people have been very bullish on the technology industry. A lot of people have been bullish on it. What’s your outlook going forward? What makes the growth prospects of your industry so attractive?

 

Lars Björk: I think we are sitting on top of one of the biggest challenges in business life today. Everyone knows that the future competitiveness with your business lies in managing your data, your information, and making better decisions than competition. I don’t think you can see an end to that problem.

 

Enjoy!

Calling all QlikView fans! We invite you to show off your very best QlikView design skills at Dashboard Insight’s first annual dashboard design contest. Show what you’ve got and yours could be the next dashboard featured on Dashboard Insight!

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You will have an opportunity to win in two categories:  Best Dashboard of 2011 and Best Visual Analysis Interface of 2011. The contest will run through November 30th.  The winner will be announced on December 15th, with recognition on Dashboard Insight’s home page, in their newsletter, and tweeted to their Twitter followers. Two prize packs are up for grabs. Each includes an iPad and a collection of must-read books for BI professionals:

Want to participate? Register for the contest here. Upon registration, you’ll receive the contest rules and requirements documents, a link to download QlikView Personal Edition, the data you’ll need to design the dashboard, and other helpful QlikView resources.  To be eligible to receive the prizes, you must be a resident of Canada, the USA, or a country belonging to the European Union; however, you may still submit an entry if you are not a resident of one of these countries. You may not be an employee of a software company that provides data visualization platforms or tools. And you must be 18 years of age or older.

Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Why did companies invest $28 billion in what IDC calls “business analytics” in 2010?* In an attempt to make better business decisions. Consider how decisions actually get made. We don’t make decisions based only on hard numbers; we make decisions as a team, with other people. Also, our decisions are influenced by being "on location" in a particular place at a particular time: on the factory production line, in the customer’s office, or in the retail store. Check out this video featuring QlikTech CTO Anthony Deighton's take on how with QlikView 11, we’ve expanded the concept of business intelligence to match the way people really make decisions.

 

In QlikView 11, we’ve made investments in five theme areas:

  • Social Business Discovery. With Social Business Discovery, 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 to collaboratively explore data, forge paths to discovery and insight, and arrive at decisions. They share insights, comments, and notes that teammates can pickup and extend right inside QlikView.
  • Comparative analysis. One of the core unique capabilities of QlikView is its associative engine, which enables users to quickly see relationship among data. QlikView 11 takes our associative analytics to a new level with comparative analysis. Business users can quickly and easily compare and interact with multiple views (or “selection states,” as we call them) of the data. This gives users new ways to compare data and spot trends, outliers, or differences.
  • Mobile Business Discovery. Mobile Business Discovery enables users to make decisions anywhere, any time. QlikView on Mobile delivers true Business Discovery and the power of QlikView to tablets and smartphones—including the associative experience, interactive analysis, access to live data, and search. QlikView 11 supports iPad, Android, and BlackBerry tablets as well as iPhone and Android smartphones.
  • Rapid analytic app platform. Our investments in QlikView as a rapid analytic app platform help business users and developers contribute to the creation of analysis quickly and simply―without requiring extensive ongoing involvement from IT. QlikView 11 includes improvements in areas like extensibility and application development.
  • Enterprise platform. 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 enterprise platform capabilities designed to improve performance of large deployments and make them easier for IT pros to secure and administer.

Want to learn more? Visit our web site at www.qlikview.com and check out the “What’s New in QlikView 11” data sheet (download the data sheet here). Or take QlikView for a drive yourself at demo.qlikview.com or download.qlikview.com.

 

* Source: IDC, “Worldwide Business Analytics Software 2011-2015 Forecast and 2010 Vendor Shares,” September 2011.

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Not long ago the conventional wisdom held that, while QlikView was a tremendous data visualization tool, it didn't really have what it takes to be deployed across large organizations, providing business discovery capabilities to thousands of business users. The criticism held that managing large deployments was difficult and too costly from an IT perspective. People even questioned whether QlikView could handle the large data sizes used in mission critical business intelligence solutions.


In the very earliest days of QlikView, it's fair to say that some of this criticism was justified. QlikView 'grew up' as a tool to empower business professionals - and not just IT - to access and analyze their own data, enabling them to turn that data into actionable information without a reliance on others to do it for them. Fundamentally, QlikView still holds this ideal to be true: putting the data and the analyses into the hands of the business user.

What has changed over the years however is QlikView's relationship with IT: IT is now a valuable and trusted partner in every successful QlikView deployment around the world. Why? Because as organizations began to rely on QlikView, IT were increasingly asked to take a leadership role. QlikView responded to this demand by ensuring that a strong focus on enterprise capabilities was a critical part of every new release, to support the needs of IT professionals charged with managing QlikView deployments.


QlikView 11 is no different. Whether making reload tasks faster and easier to manage, providing more granular security options or providing an ability to finely tune a clustered deployment, QlikView 11 is the best release yet for IT professionals to manage their QlikView deployments.

Read more about the new Enterprise capabilities in QlikView 11 here.

In today’s fast moving competitive environment, every minute counts when business users see an opportunity and want to make a fact-based decision on that opportunity by analyzing data.  The term “analysis latency” describes the time taken to analyze the data and turn it into actionable information. Analysis latency could be a good measure of ROI on BI investments.

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With traditional BI solutions, because business users highly rely on IT department to make changes to analytics, it is very challenging to decrease analysis latency. In these environments, the ratio of business users to IT staff determines the backlog and time it takes to make needed changes. (Please see my blog post, “Traditional BI in Babushka Doll,” where I discussed some of these shortcomings.)

With its rapid analytics app platform, QlikView users are already ahead in this game.  With the new QlikView 11 features, we are empowering business users and developers to act even more quickly as business dynamics change.

 

New Rapid Analytic App Platform Features in QlikView 11

QlikView 11  enables business users and developers to build apps quickly and painlessly with a bunch of new capabilities:

  • Granular chart dimension control enables developers and business users to create meaningful comparisons among dimensions more easily. Would you like to see the products that make up 80% of your sales? Or the top x sales reps? With this new capability, the answers to these questions are just a couple clicks away.
  • Conditional enabling of dimensions and expressions gives developers the flexibility to change the context of QlikView charts based on a user’s action, selections, role, or underlying data conditions. With this new capability, business users can create their own ad hoc analysis with any dimensions and expressions by just picking them.
  • Improved Ajax dialog boxes makes creating QlikView objects easier than ever before, especially for non-technical users.
  • Metadata is exposed in more places so business users can get an explanation of the content and context of chart elements more easily.
  • Version control integration creates an interface to connect QlikView applications to a source control system such as Microsoft Team Foundation Server. With this new capability, developers and administrators can improve the efficiency of application development by accessing and utilizing a central source control system.
  • Document extensions enable developers to execute custom code in QlikView applications. A developer could, for example, track usage patterns of a QlikView application by interfacing with Google Analytics.

 

The focus of the QlikView Business Discovery platform is on enabling decision makers at all levels of an organization to make decisions at the speed of business. With these new QlikView 11 capabilities, this happens even faster!

In today's complex environments, we view cross-platform mobile support as a critical capability for our customers.  As more device types and mobile operating systems make it to market, it is becoming increasingly difficult for IT organizations to maintain control of their data and applications while still offering flexibility and support to their business user communities.

 

With QlikView 11, we have taken the next step forward in our strategy to offer seamless Business Discovery capabilities across desktop and mobile platforms.  With our HTML5 based web app architecture, we now support multiple tablet operating systems and offer a new optimized display mode for handhelds.

 

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For Tablets, QlikView 11 server is now enabled to recognize Android devices and tested to support them.  This means you can access the same QlikView apps, with the same multitouch functionality and security, on the Apple iPad, the Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab and others.

 

 

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For handhelds, we have gone further by creating a new optimized presentation mode for small screens.  It leverages the same HTML5 based architecture as tablets, but presents the QlikView apps differently.  Instead of full dashboard layout, application tabs are represented by rows and individual objects on each tab are visible in tiles across the rows.  This allows for one handed scrolling, viewing of individual objects, making selections within objects, and assessing the results of selections.  QlikView server automatically recognizes touch devices and renders this mode with no additional configuration needed.  And of course standard layout is always available for those who prefer zooming in and out vs. the new tiled view.

 

 

So now QlikView apps can be hosted on a server and accessed from virtually any type of touch device through a browser.  Selection states can be saved between sessions, allowing users to pick up on a mobile device exactly where they left off on a laptop (or vice versa).  Users can utilize QlikView 11 features such as collaboration and annotations directly from mobile devices.  And IT organizations can confidently deploy and control business discovery capabilities in a centralized manner, without additional complexity around data provisioning, security, or mobilizing reports.

 

You can try out our new mobile capabilities at demo11.qlikview.com.  Simply point an Apple or Android tablet or handheld browser at the site to access the apps.  When you view applications, you will see a link in the top right that allows you to switch to small devices mode.   And check out our new white paper entitled "QlikView On Mobile: Beyond Reporting", and the data sheet “What’s New in QlikView 11.”

Donald Farmer is a BI rock star. The minute people find out he’s in the building they seek him out and try to lure him into their meetings. Sometimes it’s successful.  During an executive briefing day for our European system integrator partners last week in Amsterdam, we got an unexpected and precious hour of Donald’s time to share with the group his thoughts about the BI platforms market and QlikView’s role in it.

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According to Donald, there are three things going on in the BI platforms market that affect QlikView customers and partners:

  1. Businesses—and business software—are going social. With social Business Discovery, we’re not talking about an area of interest primarily to dataheads. We’re talking about something much bigger, that matters to more people: collaboration. Collaboration is essential to BI. And BI is, we’d argue, essential to collaboration because good business decisions of all kinds (strategic, tactical, and operational) tend to be driven by data and tend to involve more than just one person. (To learn more about the new social Business Discovery capabilities in QlikView 11, download the data sheet, “What’s New in QlikView 11” and the QlikView white paper, Social Business Discovery: Optimizing Decision Making.)
  2. The definition of “enterprise” and “enterprise readiness” is changing. IT used to provide everything for the business user. But today, users are now providing their own technology. Donald asked how many of the executives in the room use laptops for work. Of course, all hands went up. He asked how many purchased those laptops ourselves. No hands. He then asked about iPads, and most executives in the room said they have one, and that they purchased it themselves. IT is transitioning from an organization that provides all the technology to business users to the group that enables people to work the way they want to. He used email as an example. IT provides business people with the data via Exchange or Lotus Domino, and the user chooses their email client of choice on the iPad. So in our view, enterprise readiness now includes enabling the enterprise to continue to move in this direction of self-service.
  3. Numbers only matter when you have something to compare them to. QlikView as a Business Discovery platform enables associative analysis. Users can ask and answer their own streams of questions, on their own or in groups or teams. We sometimes say that QlikView works the way the human mind works, which is associatively. It fits in with the way people naturally do things. But there’s more to understanding numbers than association alone. Numbers mean nothing at all unless you have something to compare them to. The example Donald gave was, “A company made $250 million last quarter.” Is this good or bad? You only know if you can compare the $250 million to previous quarters. If last quarter the company made $100 million, the number is great. If it made $500 million, then not so much.  (To learn more about the new comparative analysis capabilities in QlikView 11, see this blog post and video, “QlikView Drives Home the Power of Comparison.”)

Oh – did I mention that Donald is now QlikTech’s VP of Product Management? Donald joined QlikTech about a year ago from Microsoft initially as QlikView Product Advocate. His transition to running product management is a very big deal for us. Donald has more than twenty years of experience in analytics and data management—including a long stint as the leader of Microsoft’s BI product teams. He oozes vision and expertise, and is a believer in QlikView’s ability to transform the way people derive insights and make decisions. Even though QlikView 11 isn’t even out of the gate yet, we already have exciting things to look forward to with future versions of QlikView.

The concept of relativity, through which people assign value to something by comparing it to something else, has significant impact on our ability to make decisions effectively. We do not make decisions in a vacuum. We make them against available options. And a choice set—what the options are and how they relate to each other—is an important aspect of the context in which we make decisions.

 

 

To illustrate the power of context in how we make decisions, let me ask you this question: Would you spend $100 on a new campaign for a group of customers who will spend $125 as the result of the campaign? Maybe…now consider this question: Would you spend $100 on a new campaign for a group of customers who will respond to the campaign by spending $500? You would prefer the second group of customers, right? In both scenarios, isn’t $100 worth $100? You determine the value of the campaign cost relative to the return; $100 seems to be a better investment in comparison to $500 than to $125. We evaluate choices in relative rather than in absolute terms.

If the purpose of business intelligence is to facilitate better business decisions and if people mostly make decisions by comparisons, BI solutions should enable users to compare things easily while they do analysis.

Comparative Analysis in QlikView 11

Comparative analysis enables business users to:

    • Create their own data sets on the fly. Business users decide which dimensions and values would define the data sets while they do Business Discovery. They can define data sets by using various dimensions, for example they can visually compare US sales (geography) to cheese sales (product type). One user might create data sets based on geography and sales while another would create data sets by product group.
    • Compare two or more data sets visually. Business users can then view the data sets they have created side by side in a single chart or in different charts to identify issues, patterns, outliers, and opportunities in the data. Prior to QlikView 11, developers could create various data sets to provide visual comparison to business users but this needed to be explicitly defined by the developer, which required foresight into the type of analyses the business user would want to perform.
    • Make additional selections on the data to further analyze the data sets. Once business users find a key insight or trend, they might want to compare their findings against a different view. For example, if someone finds that bike and accessory sales in France have flattened out over the last few quarters, they might wonder how that compares with the rest of Europe. They can create one group that contains sales data for France and another group for rest of Europe, and can then look at the data for 2011, 2010, 2009, etc.

Use comparative analysis whenever business users would like to do visual comparisons among data sets of their choosing. For example, in insurance, the business user could dynamically create a data set by selecting the customers who had fraud activities on record and visually compare their demographic characteristics to new customers. Or in the retail industry, a business user may want to bundle certain products with other low sell-through products. Users can dynamically create product groups on the fly and visually analyze the sales and margin of the groups. Please watch this short video to see the power of QlikView’s comparative analysis capability.

Have you ever been using a BI app and wished you knew what your colleagues thought about the trends you’re seeing in the data—or you wanted to ask a question of the other people who use that app, right there in context? How often has someone shared their screen with you via web conferencing technology, while you’re discussing what you’re seeing in a BI app, and you wanted to click on their screen—to interact directly with the app they were showing you? Today we launched QlikView 11, which has two new social Business Discovery capabilities that address scenarios like these ones: annotations and collaborative sessions. Check out this short video.

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Social Business Discovery with QlikView 11

QlikView 11 delivers:

  • Annotations to support discussions and create a lasting record of how decisions were made. With the new annotations collaboration object in QlikView 11, QlikView users can engage each other in discussions about QlikView content. A user can create notes associated with any QlikView object. Other users can then add their own commentary to create a threaded discussion. Users can capture snapshots of their selections and include them in the discussion so others can get back to the same place in the analysis when reviewing notes and comments. QlikView captures the state of the object (the user’s selections), as well as who made each note and comment and when.
  • Collaborative sessions to bring decision makers together. Collaborative sessions improve the quality of business decisions for geographically-distributed and mobile users who work in teams to analyze information and make decisions. Users can jointly interact with a QlikView document in real time — sharing selections and testing scenarios together to better uncover insights and solve problems. Users can share a QlikView document with others, including those who don’t have a QlikView license. A user invites others to join a session by distributing a one-time-use URL. Each participant interacts with the same QlikView app at the same time, for the duration of the session — without having to pass control manually from one to the other. Collaborative sessions work on tablets and smart phones as well as desktop and laptop computers.

With social Business Discovery a community of people can collaboratively create analytics, communicate (ask and answer questions in formal and informal groups, in real time and asynchronously), and explore (explore data together to forge new paths to insight and decision). For more info, please download the new QlikView White Paper, Social Business Discovery: Optimizing Decision Making. Also see the data sheet, “What’s New in QlikView 11.”

According to Search Business Analytics, “agile BI” is one of the most discussed concepts. As projects using traditional BI development approaches take too long to finish with high cost and failure rates, people are discussing how to apply agile development principles to BI projects.

I agree that, on the one hand, using an agile approach will improve the success of BI projects, and will also enable organizations to start more projects. On the other hand, I also believe that traditional BI solutions lack capabilities needed to achieve agile BI.

 

 

Here are some of the reasons:

  • Traditional BI solutions comprise multiple disparate tools. Traditional BI solutions do not provide integrated data design, modeling, and visualization solutions.  Because of the nature and the number of tool sets needed, each project step must be done sequentially, from data design to modeling to visualization. This increases the number of handoffs between resources, resulting in communication and vision gaps.
  • Users have limited input into creation of the tool they need. Only when all steps have been completed can the project results be viewed by the users to determine whether the project actually meets their needs. That is why in these BI environments, the users are called “end users.” They are the end of the process, passively consuming the software and the information provided to them.
  • Data prepration takes significant time and effort. With traditional BI solutions, the majority of development time is spent preparing the data: cleaning and consolidating it from different data sources and formatting it for the reporting and analysis tool. These solutions do not provide checkpoints for gathering user feedback during this phase. This increases risk and likelihood of failure.
  • Traditional BI solutions cannot quickly respond to change. Business dynamics change constantly, and business users need to adjust their analytics accordingly. With traditional BI solutions, business users highly rely on IT department to make changes. In these environments, the ratio of business users to IT staff determines the backlog and time it takes to make needed changes.

Agile BI development is not something new for QlikView customers. QlikView has long supported rapid application development by delivering all the needed capabilities for BI development in one comprehensive product. This is part of the reason why Gartner describes the benefits of QlikView to include short time to value and low cost of implementation*. In addition, QlikView does not require any specific data formatting or pre-staging of data before visualization and analytics development can begin. Developers can load the data from different data sources very fast and can have daily/hourly checkpoints with the business users to validate the data during the development.

In QlikView projects, users are actively engaged with the development, even during the data preparation stage. That is why with QlikView we don’t have the concept of “end users.” Business users engage with the analytics development at each stage. Once the data is prepared by the developers, with QlikView’s intuitive and interactive user interface capabilities business users can explore the data, turn data into knowledge, and discover new insights. This enables organizations and IT departments to adopt a self-service approach. With QlikView, business users own future enhancements and changes to the analytics.

The usability and productivity challenges of traditional BI solutions make it very hard to take an agile approach to BI development. Hence, this blog post is named “Traditional BI in Babushka Doll”. A babushka doll, sometimes called Matryoshka doll, is a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside the other. To be able to play with the smallest doll, you need to take off the bigger dolls, just like traditional BI solutions require many tools and resources for development and maintenance. Watch this video and you will better understand what I mean.

*Gartner report, “Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms.” January 27, 2011 http://www.qlikview.com/us/explore/resources/analyst-reports/gartner-report-magic-quadrant-for-business-intelligence-platforms-2011

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