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.