Yesterday at our annual Qonnections partner summit in Miami, QlikTech VP Product Management Donald Farmer presented the themes for “QlikView.next,” the code name for the next generation of the QlikView Business Discovery platform.

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QlikView.next will be a series of software releases centered around these themes:

  • Gorgeous and genius. QlikView.next will continue to win the hearts of QlikView business users and IT professionals alike with a user interface that is intuitive, fun, and highly productive. QlikView.next will make it easier than ever before for users to understand the context of numbers by exploring associations, comparisons, and implications.
  • Compulsive collaboration. Compulsive collaboration is collaboration that is so natural and easy that people can’t resist participating. QlikView.next will put QlikView at the forefront of users’ shared decision making.
  • Mobility with agility. This theme is about access to full Business Discovery from any device. We are designing the QlikView.next user experience starting with mobile first, rather than developing a desktop experience and then modifying it to work on tablets and smartphones.
  • Enabling the new enterprise. With QlikView.next, IT pros will be able to optimize their QlikView environments and offer self-service Business Discovery to growing numbers of users, utilizing ever-increasing volumes and variety of data.
  • The premier platform. With QlikView.next, we are continuing to focus on delivering platform capabilities like data connectivity and application programming interfaces to our customers and partners. This theme is about enabling customers and partners to quickly and easily deliver apps and solutions that are perfectly relevant to their users and customers.

We are moving full speed ahead to execute on the QlikTech mission statement: “simplifying decisions for everyone, everywhere.” The primary influences on our vision for QlikView.next include the consumerization of IT, social software taking root at work, pervasive mobility and device independence, and the Big Data explosion. To learn more, check out the new QlikView white paper, “The Vision for ‘QlikView.next.’”

Predictive analytics exploit patterns found in historical and transactional data to help people identify risks and opportunities in their business. According to Gartner*, predictive analytics is of great interest to many organizations, but only a small percentage of organizations have made significant progress deploying it.

 

With such shining promise, why are many organizations yet to employ predictive analytics to improve their businesses? There are three main reasons for this:

  • Users are confused about what “predictive analytics” means. Generally, the term predictive analytics is used to mean predictive modeling, scoring data with predictive models, and forecasting. However, people are increasingly using the term to describe related analytical disciplines such as descriptive modeling and decision modeling or optimization. These disciplines also involve rigorous data analysis, which is widely used in business for segmentation and decision making but has different purposes and the statistical techniques underlying them vary.
  • It’s complicated. Predictive analytics stirs together statistics, advanced mathematics, and modeling, and adds a heavy dose of data management, to create a potent brew that many hesitate to drink. Many organizations do not know whether predictive analytics is a legitimate business endeavor or an ivory tower science experiment.
  • Business users are left out of the picture. In our view, this is the most common barrier to adoption. The tools and techniques for predictive analytics are relatively mature; however, business users do not know when and how to use them. Use of tools and processes for building predictive analytics and deriving insights from the data have been limited to a small number of highly trained and experienced statisticians and analysts. Business users are only end users who passively consume what others produce for them.

We believe that predictive analytics needs to be more pervasive to deliver significant value and competitive advantage to organizations. Predictive analytics should be part of a decision making process in which the predictive terminology should be familiar to the business users. The essence of predictive analytics is to predict a number, a category, or propensity. Business users should be able to use this functionality without memorizing algorithm names.

We think that the future of predictive analytics lies not only in statistical models predicting the future, but in the human aspects of prediction. A model may predict that 68% of potential buyers of a new product are college students, for example, but if 68% of your existing customers are college students, then this prediction doesn’t help the business a whole lot. Success requires that business users who have a deep understanding of the business, know the nature of the data, and know how to interpret the results own the process.

The bulk of the work in predictive analytics is in understanding the relationships in the historical data and using them to predict the future. The QlikView associative experience is a perfect fit for understanding relationships in historical data. It gives business users the flexibility to ask and answer their own questions and identify patterns and outliers in the data.

By using QlikView integrated with a third-party predictive analytics tool, users can get these same benefits with predictive analytics. This video shows a solution example that integrates QlikView with R, which is an open source language and environment for statistical computing and graphics. In this example, business users can conduct business discovery as they normally would with selections in QlikView. When they find an interesting data set they can click on a button that transfers the selected data set to R. R calculates the desired predictive analytics and the result set becomes part of the QlikView’s associative in-memory data model upon which the user can do further exploration. 

Gartner indicates that making advanced analytics available to an expanded set of users will require a new consumer-oriented approach. The analytics should be available at the point of the decision. The tools need to become more consumer-oriented, social, collaborative, and mobile. These characteristics are core to QlikView and with QlikView’s integration capabilities, business users can now do predictive business discoveries, expanding the Business Discovery horizon to the future!

 

 

*Source: Gartner Advanced Analytics: Predictive, Collaborative and Pervasive Report, February 2012

Sometimes people ask what it is about running in memory that makes QlikView so special. It’s not the in-memory capability in itself that makes QlikView special. It’s what QlikView does with it. Many BI platforms have followed QlikView’s pioneering lead and utilize in-memory technology because it gives users a super-fast experience. Users click something on the screen and something happens right away.

In addition to running in memory, QlikView also compresses data to as much as 10% of original size and optimizes the power of the processor. But even that is just basics. The great power of QlikView lies in the fact that it 1) maintains all associations in the data automatically, and 2) calculates aggregations on the fly as needed.

If you’re hearing “blah blah yadda yadda” right now, here’s another way to think of it. Imagine all the data that would be useful for a piece of analysis being a big, cool, clear pool of life-giving water. With traditional BI, to ask a question you would perform a query — in essence, scoop out a ladle of water. Every time you do a query, you are restricting the data available for follow-up questions. You may only ask follow-up questions of the data that is in the ladle unless you go back to the beginning and scoop out a new ladle by doing a different query.

With QlikView, you always get the whole pool. You can explore all the data needed for analysis, asking and answering streams of questions as they occur to you. With each selection you make — doing a search, choosing values in list boxes, picking calendar dates, moving sliders around, lassoing regions of charts or maps, etc. — QlikView instantaneously shows you what data in the pool is associated with your selections and what data is not. You are free to explore any way you want to.

Come on in. The water’s fine.

With Business Discovery software, ordinary business people — not just data analysis pros — can explore information in a fluid, intuitive, visual way. They can ask and answer whatever streams of questions might occur to them, on their own or in teams and groups.

“How?” you might ask. Last week we published an article and video showing how easy it is for a user to get started creating their first QlikView application by dragging an Excel file onto the QlikView program icon on the desktop (see “How About a Piece of Apple Pie”). As a follow-up, this video shows how once the data is part of QlikView’s in-memory data model and represented in charts and list boxes, the fun continues.

As a QlikView user, you can explore the data in many ways. Do a search – either a direct search or an indirect one (e.g., searching in the “sales reps” field for “beer” to find out which reps who have sold beer and which reps have not). Select values in list boxes and choose calendar dates. Move sliders around. Lasso sections of charts or maps (say, a scatter or bar chart or a map of Asia). Click on specific places in charts to zoom right in. Choose groupings of data you want to compare.

The data — which may have been drawn from two, five, ten . . . or dozens of source systems — instantaneously filters around your selections. Selections are highlighted in green. Associated data is highlighted in white. Unassociated data is highlighted in gray. You can always see your current selections and can clear out your selections to start fresh. With Business Discovery software, you can pursue insight and make discoveries the way that best suits you.

Go ahead and try it for yourself. What will you discover?

One of the core strengths of QlikView is its simplicity. QlikView is simple to install and use, and it’s simple to create Business Discovery apps. QlikView’s simplicity enables business users to make better, faster business discoveries. Users can ask their own questions and get answers with the simplicity of a mouse-click. This simplicity also opens the door to innovation, such as motion sensing input with Microsoft Kinect.

Kinect* is a motion sensing input device. It enables users to control and interact with the Microsoft Xbox 360 without the need to touch a game controller, through a natural user interface using gestures and spoken commands. I have seen many examples of people hacking Kinect to interact with other devices through body gestures, but this one really impressed me as it involves QlikView!

Project Brokers, a QlikTech partner, developed a QlikView solution for integrating Kinect with QlikView so users can control QlikView apps using their body movements. In this video, Adam Vaughan, senior consultant at Project Brokers, demonstrates the solution. He uses his hands to perform mouse actions as he interacts with QlikView.

Project Brokers did an exclusive demo of this solution at the QlikTech Business Discovery World Tour event in London. Vaughan said that response to their demo was overwhelmingly positive.  He believes accessing and manipulating data via the Xbox Kinect will be part of a growing trend toward QlikView users managing their Business Discovery needs in an intuitive way.

When I saw the solution, I first thought about Tom Cruise in the film+ Minority Report+, where he faced a large display and interacted with the information by his hands. Not only is the solution interesting and fun, but the Kinect integration also has the potential to be extremely effective in places where users do not have a mouse or other device to interact with the PC, and can only use their hands. As an example, think about environments like hospitals or labs, where hygiene is extremely important and users are not supposed to touch a screen or use a mouse.

With solutions like Project Brokers’, we can truly enable business discoveries everywhere. And QlikView’s simplistic user interaction capability already enables this!  

 

* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinect | http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinect]

The Geograph project is an experiment to collect, publish, organize, and preserve representative images and associated information for every square kilometer of Great Britain, Ireland, and the Isle of Man. I heard about it in an essay by Jason Dykes and Jo Wood in the 2009 book, Beautiful Data: The Stories Behind Elegant Data Solutions.

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There are some terrific quotes in this essay, which is titled, “The Geographic Beauty of a Photographic Archive.” While the quotes are specifically about collecting, publishing, organizing, and preserving images documenting the UK, they are highly relevant for Business Discovery.

  • Beauty and brains matter a lot. “. . . Things of beauty should be lucid, usable, and ultimately satisfying as well as elegant.” So true. Business Discovery software must be simple and straightforward to use, with rich, sophisticated technology under the covers. It must be functional yet elegant.
  • Visual patterns help people derive insights. “. . . The beauty in data lies in its depth. Beauty emerges as previously hidden structures and patterns are revealed. These patterns prompt new thoughts and questions about the data. They inspire. They encourage exploration. They provide insight.” With a Business Discovery platform, users can ask and answer their own streams of questions. They can zoom in on a particular view of the data, identify patterns and outliers, and narrow their focus based on discoveries.
  • People need to be able to explore data their own way. “Exploration of data is an important part of the scientific endeavor and can lead to insights, hypotheses to be tested, and validation of prior theory. Beautiful data warrants exploration. It contains patterns, structures, and anomalies that are not immediately apparent but emerge as reward for mining the hidden depths within.” By visualizing data in new ways, and seeing the associations in the data — seeing not only the data that is associated, but that data that is not associated — people can derive insights that lead to faster, more effective decision making.
  • The genius lies in meaningful simplicity. “A simple graphic that is easy to understand but shows very little data is not beautiful . . . Rather, beautiful data visualization shows things that are complex but in a way that makes them easier to understand—perhaps by focusing attention on certain aspects of the data or emphasizing particular perspectives.” Data visualization is an art. We respectfully offer a few suggestions in the QlikView Technical Brief, “Mobile User Interface Design Best Practices.”

Business Discovery is all about putting data exploration in the hands of the people. Essays like this one help drive home the need for technology solutions that empower ordinary people to derive extraordinary insights. Try to get your hands on it. It’s worth the read.

How about a little counterbalance to the nightly discussions in the news about national budgets, deficits, and debt? Government agencies are doing more than talking; they are getting things done.

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Within the United States federal government, departments are using QlikView to gain visibility into their operations, thereby optimizing resources and reducing costs. Here are a few examples:

  • Performance and program management. Organizations are using QlikView to better tie program performance to resource requirements. Agencies use QlikView to determine how funding is being used, how many hours staff (down to the individual level) have worked, when a program will be out of funding, and whether the department needs to re-allocate resources to meet mission responsibilities. Leadership can quickly isolate under- and over-utilization of resources and quickly disseminate information across the agency. QlikView apps are utilized by executives, management, analysts, and others to provide a snapshot of overall program performance.
  • Energy conservation. The government is using QlikView to analyze energy consumption data generated by equipment deployed around the globe. Data derived from this application has provided the government with the ability to more effectively invest shrinking budget dollars in technologies that will improve overall energy consumption. This is a win-win; we get a more environmentally-friendly government and better use of federal investments.
  • Grants management. Organizations use QlikView for better visibility into their entire grants process. This includes the ability for agencies to analyze the funding, awardees, and types of grants being issued. Until QlikView came on the scene, organizations were spending weeks consolidating this information from various source systems. With QlikView, they now have immediate access to this information, cutting down on the time to respond to inquiries and providing better reporting to agency leadership as well as to the United States Congress.
  • Logistics planning. With QlikView, agencies now have visibility into the entire supply chain and are able to track metrics related to the length of time it takes to complete the maintenance lifecycle. They can track fleet assets from procurement to transportation to stock components and parts, and can shift assets based on needs.

 

More than 500 government agencies worldwide — covering finance administration, public safety, health and human services, defense and intelligence, and transportation — use QlikView to quickly give business users access to information and improve their performance. To learn more, check out this recent article in Federal Computer Week (registration required), “User-Driven Business Discovery Helps Agencies Cut Waste, Gain Transparency.”

At the Gartner BI Summit in Los Angeles this week, VP and Gartner Fellow Ken McGee delivered a presentation called “The 2012 Gartner Scenario: The Call for a New CIO Manifesto.” In his presentation, McGee made some salient — and rather urgent — points:

  • CIOs and CEOs don’t share the same priorities. As a result, there is a great disconnect between IT and the rest of the business. From Gartner’s 2012 CEO and senior executive survey and an analysis of 22,000 inquiries submitted by CIOs during the first half of 2011, the analysts illuminate a gap in priorities. CEOs’ top three priorities are: 1) retaining and enhancing existing customers, 2) attracting and retaining skilled workers / talent, and 3) attracting new customers. In contrast, CIOs’ top 3 priorities are: 1) IT management, 2) strategic planning, and 3) business value of IT.
  • CIOs must rethink their mission. Gartner recommends that CIOs create a new manifesto (or mission) based on measurable and auditable financial benefits for the enterprise. According to the analysts, this manifesto should contain four principles: 1) Both information and IT are vital. 2) By 2016, >50% of CIO new project spending should be directed toward measurably improving enterprise financial conditions. 3) By 2020, >50% of all enterprise information and IT spending should be directed toward supporting revenue-generating business processes. 4) The incentive portion of CIO compensation should be determined by the amount of money that CIOs and staff create.
  • There’s a fairly dire “or else” looming on the horizon. Gartner concludes that because of the disconnect between CIOs and CEOs, 1) An increasing percentage of all CIOs will not report directly to CEOs, 2) An increasing percentage of all CIOs will not become officers of their enterprises, 3) CIO budgets will not experience high single digit or low double digit rates of year-over-year growth, 4) An increasing percentage of all CIOs will not become permanent members of enterprise strategic planning committees. The way to avoid these outcomes is to create and abide by a new CIO manifesto.

 

Gartner also talked about the need for organizations to become “intelligence organizations.” Gartner define intelligence as having three facets: a specialized form of knowledge, an activity, and an organization. As knowledge, intelligence informs leaders, uniquely aiding their judgment and decision making. As an activity, intelligence is the means by which data and information are collected and interpreted to determine likely outcomes, and disseminated to individuals and organizations who can make use of it. An intelligence organization directs and manages these activities to create such knowledge as effectively as possible. This is where Business Discovery comes into play.

Click here to read the Business Discovery Manifesto.png

In what we think of as the new enterprise, information workers are empowered to find solutions and make decisions. In these organizations, IT plays a crucial role as an enabler or “empowerer” (is that a word?). We offer a  Business Discovery Manifesto as an inspiration for CIOs and other business and technology decision makers who are pursuing Gartner’s new CIO manifesto and working hard to effect a transformation of their companies into intelligence organizations. Click here to read the Business Discovery Manifesto.

Want to dig underneath the big data and cloud hype and understand what’s really going on? We do! And the answers lie with you.

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QlikTech is conducting an online survey into business users’ and IT pros’ attitudes regarding two technology topics: big data and cloud technologies. (To take the survey, click here.) The survey contains fewer than 15 questions and should take about 10 minutes to complete. The survey questions cover data volumes and complexity and give you an opportunity to share your thoughts about emerging data management technologies. We do not ask for details of specific projects.

Your perspectives will help us understand what’s going on in the real world and what the challenges and opportunities you face, regardless of whether you are a technical or non-technical person. Your participation will make us smarter — which will enable us to better serve you!

Many thanks in advance for your participation in this survey. We expect the survey to remain open through April 9th. We look forward to sharing the results with you sometime after that.

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