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Business Discovery Blog

210 Posts authored by: Erica Driver

We started to talk publicly about our vision for “QlikView.next,” the code name for the next generation of the QlikView Business Discovery platform, in the spring (see blog post, "The Vision for 'QlikView.next'”). QlikView.next is the code name for an entire new generation of the QlikView Business Discovery platform, spanning multiple releases. It is not the name of the next release of QlikView.

Now that we are further along in our development, we’re ready to pull back the curtain a bit more and share with you the product scenarios we are focused on within each QlikView.next theme. (See the new QlikView white paper, “The ‘QlikView.next’ Product Scenarios.’”) We’ll be posting about the scenarios in each theme here on the Business Discovery Blog, starting today with “Gorgeous and Genius.”

  Gorgeous and Genius product scenarios.png

Within the Gorgeous and Genius theme we are focused on four product scenarios:

  • Associative, Comparative, Predictive. We are making advanced analytics capabilities directly accessible to business users themselves – not just to specialists – in a visually beautiful way in the very moment when they are engaged in decision making. We will provide a base set of analytic options out of the box along with more native intelligence about data types, and will enable partners and customers to add additional capabilities to QlikView using an expanded notion of extensions.
  • Delightful Development. For people who are designing and building QlikView apps, we are focused on simplicity, reusability, and standards-based development and open APIs (application programming interfaces). We want to optimize developers’ productivity by making it easy for them to reuse components and develop solutions that extend, customize, and integrate QlikView with other software on a variety of platforms. We will provide a web-based development environment and a set of well-documented development tools and APIs.
  • One Client to Rule Them All. QlikView.next will consist of a single client that will work equally well on tablets and laptop/ desktop computers, both online and while disconnected. We are focused on new interaction paradigms that work across devices ranging from desktops to touch-based interfaces and the client will adjust automatically to the capabilities of the user’s device. We are using modern web technology (HTML5 and CSS3) and optimizing for the device.
  • Visually Beautiful. We want all interactions people have with QlikView.next to be natural, easy, and comfortable. Our world-class user experience team is focused on creating a Business Discovery environment that is a calm, comfortable, and fun place to work for all types of users. As users become more comfortable with QlikView we will offer them more options and help them along to an even richer experience. QlikView.next will introduce new metaphors for user interaction and new techniques for creating data visualizations.

To learn more about “QlikView.next,” the code name for the next generation of the QlikView Business Discovery platform, download the white paper, The “QlikView.next” Product Scenarios.

I’ve never thought of an IT organization as the storekeeper of technology before. But that’s how it’s portrayed in the CITO Research white paper “From Gatekeeper to Enabler: How the Role of IT Is Fundamentally Changing.” And I like it!

IT Changing from Gatekeeper to Storekeeper.png

In this white paper, QlikTech’s VP of Product Management Donald Farmer and Dan Woods, CTO and editor of CITO Research, put their heads together and share their thinking about how the role of IT is transforming. The gist of it:

  • IT’s role in the past: gatekeeper. In this role, IT was tasked with making sure that enterprise systems were secure, scalable, reliable, cost-effective, efficient, resilient in times of trouble, and compliant with industry and government regulations. Business users went to IT for all their needs – from hardware to software to data to networking – and IT was often put in the position of being the “no” people. “From a traditional end-user’s point of view,” the authors say, “the IT department held a virtual monopoly on corporate technology. Its domain was the back office, and its primary directive was to achieve a high level of operational efficiency.”
  • IT’s role in the future: storekeeper. In the role of storekeeper, IT becomes the “yes” people. IT becomes the proprietor of an IT store. Inside the store, IT manages mission-critical systems and master data. IT selectively exposes portions of these assets to users who need them as a foundation for solving problems. The storekeeper provides as much self-service as possible. And, importantly, instead of trying to manufacture or manage all use of technology throughout the organization, IT monitors activity taking place outside the store, staying on the lookout for new trends and business user-adopted technologies that could add value to the business in a broader way. IT then brings the most valuable of these into the store.

By supporting communities of business users and moving away from the old gatekeeper role, the IT department becomes an enabler of productivity and a more direct partner in the business. What do you think? Does this sound like a good idea? You can read more in the CITO Research white paper, “From Gatekeeper to Enabler: How the Role of IT Is Fundamentally Changing” (registration required). Let me know your thoughts.

I recently read The Art of Immersion by self-described digital anthropologist Frank Rose – a book about how the Internet is changing storytelling. (Watch the video interview with Rose below.) Rose interviewed people like movie director James Cameron (director, Avatar), musician Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), and game designer Will Wright (The Sims) – all change agents who are redefining storytelling.

“All fine and dandy,” you might be thinking. “Storytelling is fun. But what does this have to do with Business Discovery?” In The Art of Immersion, Rose describes patterns he is seeing emerge across movies and television, games, and other forms of entertainment, all of which have implications for Business Discovery – in fact all of BI:

  • Storytelling is becoming more participatory, nonlinear, and immersive. The very concept of what a book is, for example, has changed. (See related blog post, “Storytelling with Data to Rally Support for Your Position”). According to Rose, “A new type of narrative is emerging—one that’s told through many media at once in a way that’s nonlinear, that’s participatory and often gamelike, and that’s designed above all to be immersive.” He also wrote, “The same tools that enable people to spontaneously coalesce online make it easy for them to start telling the story their way, if they care about it enough to do so.”
  • Storytelling helps reduce information overload. Rose made the point, “Stories are recognizable patterns, and in those patterns we find meaning. We use stories to make sense of our world and to share that understanding with others. They are the signal within the noise.”  If you can interact with data represented in colorful, visual ways and can share stories about the data, numbers can become the most interesting thing in the world. Data storytelling makes it easier for the human mind to sift through the dirt to find what’s relevant in the archeological dig.

The very concept of an audience–a passive group that absorbs whatever you give them–is outdated. Today the term “participants” is more accurate. This is true not just for  movies, video games, and books, but for BI as well. Interested in data storytelling? See these related Business Discovery Blog posts:

•          “Bombillo Amarillo and the Importance of Data Storytelling,” July 3, 2012

•          “Enchanting with Data,” May 30, 2012

•          “Data Brings Joy to People,” May 24, 2012

•          “Storytelling with Data to Rally Support for Your Position,” March 5, 2012

•          “Storytelling with Data Helps Us Internalize Meaning,” July 21, 2011

•          “Tell Me a Story,” May 25, 2011

•          “QlikView and the Power of Storytelling,” March 8, 2011.

Imagine traveling to Uganda to explore the African landscape and talk with people in local communities about how HOPEHIV has helped them . . . alone, all by yourself. It would probably be an enlightening trip, and you’d probably make some interesting discoveries. But it also might be a bit lonely sometimes. Now imagine going on this trip with friends and colleagues (as some of my QlikTech colleagues currently are – check out their blog “Seeing Hope in Uganda” and the video they posted recently).

Exploring with others enables you to layer multiple different perspectives together. To see and point out different sides of the same coin. To beat back omission bias. (See the related blog post, “Business Decision-Making Lessons from a Blackjack Pro.”) To share and bounce ideas off each other. To reach conclusions you may never have come to on your own. To help document a shared experience.

The benefits of exploring together extend beyond world travel to Business Discovery. A solo person having access to Business Discovery software can leap ahead of where they were before they had tools for navigating and exploring data, deriving unexpected insights, and making discoveries. But the benefits are compounded when multiple people can explore together.

A team of people may be using an analytic app simultaneously, clicking around and making selections as they talk through the challenge they face or problem they’re trying to solve. One person may identify a field value that is unassociated with other field values, and the team may dive into an inquiry about why. By exploring together in an analytic app simultaneously, a group or team of people can cut through the static that gets in the way of clear, fast communication and get to answers and decisions more quickly.

Even when people can’t be online at the same time it’s important that they are still able to explore together. Capabilities like threaded discussions and shared bookmarks enable people to explore data together asynchronously. One person may have an observation and post it to a discussion thread in an app, along with a snapshot that preserves the app’s current state. A team member may come into the app, click on that comment and snapshot, make a few more clicks in the app, come up with an explanation, and add that to the discussion.

Whether simultaneously or asynchronously, most people find benefit in exploring together with others – regardless of whether we’re talking about travel or Business Discovery. The software we use for exploration should make this as easy as possible. To learn more about QlikView’s collaboration capabilities see the Social Business Discovery section of our web site.

Thanks to inputs from more than a dozen BI experts at QlikTech, during the last couple of weeks I’ve written several articles about potholes in the road to delivering BI projects. (List is below.) This article is the last in the series, and highlights a couple of final potholes having to do with the right stuff: good data and good analytic tools.

data and tools.png

Very often, we see organizations face issues with:

  • Data consistency. BI projects can take major damage when they hit the data consistency pothole. A company might have on record eight different variations of the name of the same partner, for example. Or one business unit might count an entity as a customer at the end of the first month that entity makes a payment while another business unit defines an entity as a customer the minute the first order is placed, before payment is received.
  • BI software that is inflexible and hard to use. Organizations that want to be nimble need motivated and adaptable people. Those people, in turn, need flexible, friendly tools. In many organizations, though, even when people are motivated to move fast, the software tools they have at their disposal have a long, slow learning curve that inhibits their ability to be nimble.

For example, the ETL (extract, transform, and load) process – just one step in a traditional BI project – can be an enormous hurdle. And many BI platforms consist of multiple layers in a stack, each with its own technical skill set requirements. Different people often look after each layer of the stack (e.g., data warehouse, ETL, and report writing) and it is incumbent upon them to communicate effectively.

It is important that the app developer and business requestor validate data by comparing the source to the destination and comparing various occurrences of the same metric within an analytic app and across multiple apps. Part of IT’s role is to ensure that the data IT provides to business users for consumption in analytic apps is prepared, cleansed, and governed – yet granular enough to provide value. And in this age of empowerment, analytic software that is flexible and easy to use should top the priorities list for any BI project – these are two primary characteristics that can make or break user acceptance and adoption.

(This is the fourth and final article in the “Potholes of BI” series featuring insights from the following BI experts at QlikTech: Chaitanya Avasarala, Miguel Angel Baeyens, Gary Beach, David P. Braune, Greg Brooks, Annette Jonker, John Linehan, Brad Peterman, Olaf Rasenberg, Mike Saliter, Chris Sault, Matthew Stephen, Christof Schwarz, and Mark Wine.)

See these related posts:

•          “Lined Up and Ready to Go: Episode 1 in the ‘Potholes of BI’ Series

•          “The Elephant and the Cheetah: Episode 2 in the ‘Potholes of BI’ Series

•          “The Wrong Trousers: Episode 3 in the ‘Potholes of BI’ Series

In the Oscar-winning animated Wallace & Gromit movie, The Wrong Trousers, Wallace rents out a spare room in his house to a criminal penguin who uses Wallace in a robbery involving a pair of mechanical trousers. You don’t want to get into a sticky situation like Wallace with your BI project.

Wallace and the wrong trousers.jpgImage source: www.wallaceandgromit.com

This leads us to a few more potholes of BI:

  • The wrong measurements. The wrong measurements can be just as bad as the wrong trousers. Many project teams measure BI success by the size of their assets (e.g., size of a query, size of a database or data warehouse, or number of layers in the BI stack). Instead, a good measure of BI success is the quality and volume of business insights a BI platform can deliver compared to the cost of setting it up.

As a result of measuring the wrong things, project teams can sometimes get so wrapped up in optimizing for volume that they are paralyzed into inaction – always waiting for the perfect data, perfect appliance, perfect delivery platform, or perfect scenarios for deployment. The dirty secret is that this is an impossible goal. Economies, markets, competitive environments, and businesses change constantly so perfection in BI is an always-moving target.

  • Inadequate user training. In The Wrong Trousers, Gromit uses his “Techno-Trousers Manual” but still has trouble figuring out what the red buttons do and what the blue buttons do.  He pushes a button and finds himself shooting across the room.

Of course business users can navigate to a web-based analytic app without the need for training. But even with self-service BI, business users need help understanding what the data means and what the fastest paths are to the answers they are seeking. Part of the reason for this is the legacy of static reports and pre-configured dashboards; most business users who sit down in front of an interactive analytic app for the first time don’t realize what flexibility they have before them, and could use a walk-through to get them started.

(This article is the third in a multi-part series featuring insights from many BI experts at QlikTech: Chaitanya Avasarala, Miguel Angel Baeyens, Gary Beach, David P. Braune, Greg Brooks, Annette Jonker, John Linehan, Brad Peterman, Olaf Rasenberg, Mike Saliter, Chris Sault, Matthew Stephen, Christof Schwarz, and Mark Wine. See the related posts, “Lined Up and Ready to Go: Episode 1 in the 'Potholes of BI' Series” and “The Elephant and the Cheetah: Episode 2 in the ‘Potholes of BI’ Series.”)

You don’t want to be an elephant if you’re a BI (business intelligence) project. Nothing against elephants – they are beautiful creatures, the largest land animals on earth. Elephants have good memories and high intelligence. But if you’re a BI project you want to be a cheetah. Cheetahs are the fastest land animal on earth, having clocked in around 75 miles per hour, with the ability to accelerate from zero to 62 miles an hour in three seconds flat.

Elephant and cheetah.png

This leads us to a few more potholes of BI:

  • Projects that are too big to succeed. In the age of mega-mergers and government bailouts, we frequently hear the term “too big to fail.” But in the world of BI, “too big to succeed” is more common. If the scope of a BI project is too broad, it takes too long for the project team to deliver value.
  • Inadequate project planning and structure. Without having a clear project plan outlining roles, responsibilities, timelines, and dependencies, it’s almost impossible to meet users’ expectations for BI projects. Scope creep takes root. Security is an afterthought. Users get poor performance because the business requestor asks for “all the available data,” IT asks why, the requestor says, "in case I need it," and the result is huge and slow.
  • No BI center of excellence. Frequently, we see excellent methods and ideas that originate in one part of an organization not get communicated to other areas. Good practices are not widely implemented or re-used, resulting in duplicate efforts and sub-optimal performance overall.

Cross-functional collaborative centers of excellence ensure that barriers are broken down not only between IT and other parts of the organization, but among business units and across geographic locations.  Centers of excellence, along with executive sponsorship, can encourage quicker, wider acceptance of BI solutions and practices across the enterprise.

With BI projects, think cheetah. It is a good practice to have a clear goal and to work in small iterations. Developers co-create analytic apps with the business requestors either in person or via a remote real-time collaboration session. The project team demonstrates value quickly by creating prototypes and getting them into users’ hands right away. The project team gets input and feedback from business users immediately and moves apps along to production at a rapid pace. Everyone is happy.

(This article is the second in a multi-part series featuring insights from many BI experts at QlikTech: Chaitanya Avasarala, Miguel Angel Baeyens, Gary Beach, David P. Braune, Greg Brooks, Annette Jonker, John Linehan, Brad Peterman, Olaf Rasenberg, Mike Saliter, Chris Sault, Matthew Stephen, Christof Schwarz, and Mark Wine. (See the related blog post, “Lined Up and Ready to Go: Episode 1 in the 'Potholes of BI' Series” and stay tuned for more!)

This summer we announced the QlikView Academic Program, which gives higher education institutions around the world access to QlikView for use in educational curricula. On the heels of that announcement, we launched a private QlikCommunity group specifically for members of the Academic Program. To find out more, I spoke with Caryl Yenny, senior manager education services programs and products.

QlikView backback.png

It’s all about community. We launched this new site to give professors and students a “third place” – a global, social environment separate from the two usual social environments of home and the workplace (or school). On this QlikCommunity site, professors and students will be able to learn from and share with others using QlikView around the globe. Professors can share tips on how to embed QlikView usage in a course, where to get good data sets, etc. Students can see what other students are creating with QlikView and can get answers to questions they may have regarding functionality or best practices.

The QlikView Academic Program formalizes our practice of supporting higher educational institutions. Wenhong Luo, Associate Professor at Villanova School of Business, Villanova University, has used QlikView in his business intelligence courses for undergraduate MIS (masters of information systems) majors and MBA classes since the fall of 2009. He said, “I was looking for a BI software tool that would help students better understand BI concepts and development principles. QlikView fits perfectly with what I tried to do. It is easy to install and easy to learn. I like QlikView’s business/data discovery approach to BI.”

Are you an educator at a higher educational institution? Are you teaching political science, social science, history, or BI? Do you have a need to provide your students with powerful yet user-friendly Business Discovery software they can use to find insights in data, and make new discoveries? Do you want to be part of a private QlikCommunity group to facilitate collaboration among QlikView users in the academic field? Join the QlikView Academic Program to be a part of it all.

Those of us who live in cold, icy parts of the world know that a pothole is a broken section of pavement that results in a hole – sometimes a deep one. Potholes in the road are created by repeated freezing and thawing. They slow motorists down and can cause vehicle damage and accidents.

pothole.jpg

As anyone involved in BI (business intelligence) projects can attest, potholes abound in BI as well. A couple of these potholes have to do with BI project ownership and collaboration across the organization. For example:

  • IT and non-IT are mis-aligned. It sometimes works like this: business users need insights from data so they request BI software from IT. They ask for software that is flexible, easy to use, and self-service. IT asks the requestors what questions they want to be able to answer. The business users often don’t know, exactly. The IT team agrees to a project and applies a waterfall methodology using stages like definition, development, test, and go-live. By the time the solution is live it no longer answers the questions the requestors had, or business requirements have changed. Business users complain that the project took too long and the solution performs too slowly or only serves as a data source for Excel analysis. As a result of this mis-alignment, frustration abounds.
  • The project lacks executive sponsorship or business ownership. We see organizations achieve the greatest success when a business team has the budget and builds a business case and then approaches IT for help coming up with a technical solution. In this case, the group that needs a business problem solved makes the final decision about which software to deploy. The project has top management support. An executive who is close to the business problems that led to exploration of BI in the first place is closely involved to ensure funding, make final decisions on sticky topics, and drive adoption throughout the organization. This executive can also help set the tone for what is inevitably a change – the intelligence in BI reveals the good, the bad, and the ugly. Some people will feel unrewarded by this exposure regardless of the positive impact for the organization as a whole.

In the most modern enterprises (what we call the “new enterprise,”) IT is seen and treated as an important enabler of other parts of the business, rather than as separate from the business. The role of IT in BI shifts from being the providers of BI to serving as the enablers of BI. IT’s role is not to create all the dashboards and reports business users might possibly need; rather, it is to ensure security, compliance, and auditability, and to provision users with high-quality data, excellent performance, and self-service. When IT and non-IT are closely aligned and the BI project has executive sponsorship and business ownership, BI projects have the greatest chance of success.

(This article is the first in a multi-part series featuring insights from many BI experts at QlikTech: Chaitanya Avasarala, Miguel Angel Baeyens, Gary Beach, David P. Braune, Greg Brooks, Annette Jonker, John Linehan, Brad Peterman, Olaf Rasenberg, Mike Saliter, Chris Sault, Matthew Stephen, Christof Schwarz, and Mark Wine. Stay tuned for more!)

One of the core characteristics that makes QlikView unique is the associative experience. In this video, QlikTech CTO and Sr. VP Products Anthony Deighton demos QlikView’s associative search capability. Using the Sales Management and Customer Analysis demo app, which you can find on our demo site, Anthony shows the central capability that drives the associative experience: the green (user’s selections), white (all associated data), and gray (all data excluded from the selections). 

Anthony shows the way QlikView enables direct and indirect search and users can search for an expression (e.g., show me all products with sales greater than one million dollars) rather than for a specific value. He also shows QlikView enabling the user to explore data in new ways using the comparative analysis capability we released in QlikView 11. With just a couple of clicks a user can identify target customers that have purchased certain sets of products but have not purchased other sets.

QlikView doesn’t restricts the user; users can click anywhere, go anywhere, all the while seeing how data elements are related across the entire QlikView app. With QlikView, business users conduct searches and interact with dynamic dashboards and analytics from any device. Users can gain unexpected insights because QlikView works the way peoples’ minds work. It delivers answers as fast as users can think up questions.

As part of our investment in the QlikTech customer experience, we recently hired a customer satisfaction consultancy to interview several hundred QlikTech customers about their experiences working with us. One of the questions we asked was whether the customer would recommend QlikView to others, and if so why. Here are a dozen of my favorite answers.

QlikView on a heart.png

  1. “It is easy to use and implement through the business. It's nice to look at. It provides answers  - and non-answers, which make you question and delve further.”
  2. “It's an amazing way of getting data and improving the accessibility of data.”
  3. “It provides structure for data and ease of use for users to investigate the structure.”
  4. “I would recommend strongly because of the benefits it has given my business and because of the product's capabilities. There's nothing I would put up against it.”
  5. “I would strongly recommend, as the best benefit is that it saves time.”
  6. “I would recommend strongly because of the fact that it is user driven.”
  7. “QlikView is an innovative BI solution.”
  8. “There isn't another product like it - it delivers ‘what it says on the tin.’ It is a quick and economical way to deliver quality information that you can react with. It doesn't need a large technical team to run it.”
  9. “Our users are very satisfied with QlikView. They can make selections and dynamically change data; it is a revelation compared to our previous methods of reporting.”
  10. “Its ease of use and flexibility and the fact that it can handle huge quantities of data. It is also good value for money.”
  11. “It can take you from not having a tool to being able to push your ideas - by using the data you can see the processes you're trying to impact.”
  12. “I don't think there is anything else I would recommend like I do QlikView - it is such a powerful tool.”

What about you – what are the reasons why you <3 QlikView?

Erica Driver

QlikView and the Cloud

Posted by Erica Driver Aug 14, 2012

The demand for and implementation of virtualization technologies within organizations during the last few years has revealed significant savings and reduced risk for many businesses and IT teams. Utilizing the cloud is the next logical step beyond internal virtualization. Improvements in network bandwidth, and cultural demand from users to be able to take their services and content with them wherever they go, are making organizations reconsider how they deliver IT services to their users.

QlikView and the Cloud COVER IMAGE July 2012.PNG

The use of cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS) represents a huge growth area in the IT industry, with many analysts predicting growth. According to Forrester Research, the SaaS space will grow significantly during the next five years to reach total revenues of 92.8 billion USD by 2016 — accounting for roughly 26% of the total packaged software market. And this doesn’t include infrastructure as a service (IaaS), business process as a service (BPaaS) – the whole market will be even bigger: the total public cloud market will grow to $159.3 billion in 2020.*

The range of benefits offered by using cloud services and the maturity of the key cloud vendors is driving adoption. Benefits of the cloud include fast implementation, user-friendly experience, IT infrastructure support not required, ease of leveraging cloud-based data, and automatic, seamless upgrades. When cloud offerings are licensed to customers on a term basis (e.g., per month or per year), this can result in cost savings, which is a key motivation for adoption. Delivering solutions as a service offers easy opt-in/opt-out and enables customers to turn what were capital expenses into operating expenses.

Many QlikView customers are now looking to the cloud deployment and/or SaaS licensing to provide Business Discovery to their users. We recently published a QlikView Technology White Paper that discusses a variety of cloud and SaaS options, “QlikView in the Cloud.” Click here to download (registration required).

 

* Source: Forrester Research, “Sizing the Cloud,” April 21, 2011 (available to Forrester subscribers or for purchase).

Been wondering what’s cooking in QlikTech’s Products organization? Donald Farmer, our VP of Product Management, recently published a video in which he shares his views about the next generation of QlikView coming down the pike. We have made decisions about what to focus on with “QlikView.next,” the next generation of QlikView, based on changes in the relationship between people and technology, and the emerging prevalence of touch screen devices (on desktops as well as mobile devices).

The five themes of “QlikView.next” are:

  • Gorgeous and genius. It will be an emotionally attractive interface that encourages people to explore data. It will be a natural, rich, engaging experience. And we will take the associative experience we have built to date and extend this to become more comparative and also predictive.
  • Mobility with agility. We are focused on the agile use of mobile devices for Business Discovery. People take mobile devices into new situations and contexts so they can ask and answer new questions while they are out on the road.
  • Compulsive collaboration. Why compulsive? People can’t help being collaborative. We need to make collaboration support multiple ways of working together. As Donald says, “When your mother said ‘Share!’ she didn’t mean ‘publish.’ She meant share – work with your peers and engage with other people.”
  • The premier platform. We want to expose all the functionality of QlikView through APIs so any partner or customer can manipulate, extend, and enhance it. We want QlikView to be the heart of an ecosystem, facilitated by a marketplace.
  • Enabling the new enterprise. It’s about making capabilities like security, reliability, and scalability available to any customer, not just the large ones. We want to make QlikView extremely easy to administer and give administrators the same kind of gorgeous and genius experience other users get.

The next generation of QlikView will be a radical change and we are excited about its ability to simplify decisions for everywhere. We hope you share this excitement. (For more info about "QlikView.next," see the QlikView white paper, The Vision for QlikView.next.)

When it comes to Big Data, lots of media focus and attention is on the software “factories” that process vast volumes and types of data (e.g., structured, unstructured, and semi-structured).  By software factories I mean technologies like Hadoop, Google BigQuery, and NoSQL. Another way to think of these technologies is as the “Big Data backbone,” to use a telecom analogy. (See the related blog post, “The Last-Mile Challenge of Big Data.”) They are critical infrastructure.

Assuming the infrastructure is in place, then what? Once Big Data has been processed, how do business users begin to derive value from it? I mean the traders and portfolio managers in financial services; billing analysts assessing inputs from gas or water utility smart meters; marketing and advertising managers assessing usage, click-through rates, and location optimization for online properties; and scientists looking for genomics and bioengineering breakthroughs in the pharmaceuticals industry. How do they get value from Big Data? 

Insights come from Big Data context.png

They get value when what’s relevant in the Big Data is joined with data extracted from other meaningful sources (e.g., enterprise applications and data warehouses, departmental databases, spreadsheets, cloud data sources, etc.). When users can see the Big Data in context with other data, and can click around at will, always able to see what’s associated – and, importantly, what’s not associated – they can begin to identify meaningful patterns and outliers and are on their way to valuable insights.

Want to learn more? Download the QlikView Technology White Paper, QlikView and Big Data (click here to download).

At a time when the UK is engulfed in Olympics excitement, it’s easy to overlook other items on the news agenda. But recent reports on the state of the UK economy are showing a slowdown in GDP (gross domestic product) growth, causing great concern about what the future holds for businesses in the UK. (Check the National Institute Economic Review publication on Friday August 3rd for detailed forecasts of the UK and world economies.)

We created an analytic app called Discovering UK Growth to serve as a source of input for the debate surrounding the UK economy. We used publicly-available data from Companies House, the UK’s official register of businesses. (Click this link to interact with the app – or check out the YouTube video below.)

The Discovering UK Growth app sends you on a self-guided, interactive journey through UK business history since 1988. The destination? Insights to help UK business leaders and entrepreneurs make investment decisions. Check it out – you can explore data about fuel prices, interest and exchange rates, and GDP. 

Here are a few of the insights we uncovered as we explored the data:

  • Business creation declines during times of change and unrest. The UK’s best month for business creation since 1988 was March 2007, roughly three months before the financial crisis hit the UK. During this time a net 45,000 new companies started up. At the other end of the scale, business creation dipped deeply into negative territory in April 2009 — at the same time as the G20 demonstrations in London and the outbreak of swine flu. Also, business creation declines by just under 20% in the months following the appointment of a new Prime Minister. So maybe budding entrepreneurs should hold off starting a new business during times of unrest.
  • Business creation maps out regionally. That in itself might not be surprising. But you might not have expected Dungannon, Northern Ireland, to be the best place — outside the tax havens — to form a new business. Dungannon boasts a business creation to dissolution ratio of 72%. To put this into perspective, the city of London has a ratio of success to failure of just 31%. Looking to set up in the city? Think again, perhaps.
  • Taxation isn’t necessarily correlated with business creation. While increases in fuel taxes are widely bemoaned in the business community, the app shows these taxes in fact have little effect on business creation. The same can be also said for changes in corporation tax. So if you’re putting off starting your business for fuel or tax reasons, think twice!

We hope that the Discovering UK Growth app will help those reporting on, informing, and ultimately affected by government policy to develop fresh perspectives on recent economic history and, hopefully, also spot business opportunities to help boost the UK economy for a more positive report once the Olympics excitement has subsided. Let us know what interesting insights you find in it!

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