1 2 3 Previous Next

Business Discovery Blog Archive

341 posts

Qlik Blog.jpg

Dear Qlik Community Members,


As you may have already heard, Qlik has got a brand new blog! As of January 20th, the Business Discovery Blog will be moving to its new location on Qlik.com. Fear not, though, as Qlik Community will remain intact as a forum more focused on the heavier tech and support issues and discussions. Additionally, the old Business Discovery Blog will remain as an archive.


What will we be blogging about? Well, we can’t rival TMZ quite yet, but we are looking to cover a wide range of topics: business intelligence, data visualization, analytics and storytelling.  We’ve also lined up a number of our own industry experts, who will be covering the impact BI and visualization have on financial services, sales and marketing, healthcare and the supply chain. As many of you take part in our active discussion threads on Qlik Community, we are hoping to foster similar discussions with our product team bloggers, who will also be contributing: so be sure to check out their posts as The Qlik Blog continues to grow.


At this point you’re probably asking: who exactly do you guys have blogging? The short answer is a LOT of people from within Qlik, and you may recognize a few of our kickoff blogger names from their work on the Business Discovery Blog on Qlik Community:

  1. Donald Farmer, Qlik VP Innovation and Design
  2. Murray Grigo-McMahon, Qlik Design Strategist
  3. James Richardson, Qlik Business Analytics Strategist
  4. Patrik Lundblad, Qlik Visualization Advocate
  5. James Fisher, Qlik VP Global Product Marketing
  6. Mike Saliter, Qlik Vice President, Global Industry Solutions
  7. Josh Good, Qlik Director of Product Marketing
  8. John Sands, Qlik Evangelist


Please feel free to have a look around the new blog, but we ask that you DO NOT SHARE CONTENT until the official launch on 1/20! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me, or fellow social influence manager, mit


Best Regards,



Savage.jpgA couple of weeks ago I published a series of tweets with the hash tag #AnalyticalThoughts. As I mentioned in the first of these tweets I’m a real fan of Forbes Thoughts which each day publishes great and inspiring quotes from thought leaders, writers, politicians and significant others. I’ve found that many of these quotes are thought provoking when it comes to how we should think about and use analytics. This week’s inaugural Qlik World Conference here in Orlando inspired me to pull them into a short blog to share with you again.


While I'm relatively new to Qlik, I have over recent years published a number of blogs on how we should use analytics and in particular on the value analytics and data visualization solutions can bring to an organization when great technology and great people come together to turn previously innate data into something that drives real business value.  The quotes I published say, in my humble opinion, a great deal about the opportunity we have ahead of us – we being Qlik, our customers and partners.  Over the last couple of days here in Orlando we have heard from many on a similar theme, I was particularly inspired by Adam Savage and Mark Cuban, both in their own and albeit very different ways highlighted the importance of asking a question, challenging what we think we know and just how that can become the basis to do and think differently. 


Let me know what you think but I think these quotes challenge our thinking in the same way… if you have other quotes that you think do the same please feel free to share.


"Knowledge comes by taking things apart: analysis. But wisdom comes by putting things together" - John A. Morrison

"Things don't turn up in this world until somebody turns them up” - James Garfield

"No man ever made a great discovery without the exercise of the imagination" - George Henry Lewes

"Greater even than the greatest discovery is to keep open the way to future discovery” - John Jacob Abel

"A great discovery is a fact whose appearance in science gives rise to shining ideas…" - Claude Bernard

"Discoveries are often made by not following instructions; by going off the main road, by trying the untried" - Frank Tyger

"Only a change of viewpoint is needed to convert a tiresome duty into an interesting opportunity” - A. Flanders

"A business man’s judgment is no better than his information" - R. P. Lamont

“Technology is so much fun but we can drown in our technology. The fog of information can drive out knowledge" - Daniel Boorstin

“I attribute the little I know to my not having been ashamed to ask for information" - John Locke

m b

Mark Cuban: Data Maverick

Posted by m b Nov 10, 2014

**Don’t forget that YOU could be meeting Mark Cuban next week by entering our #MeetAShark contest on Twitter! Check out the full contest rules page here and we’ll see you in Orlando at Qlik World Conference!**

We’ve heard the all too familiar story: sports team struggles…embraces analytics…changes personnel…wins more games…agrees to be followed around for a book and cast for a movie…lives happily ever after. It all sounds great in practice – but the real analytics story takes place behind closed doors and is much more  comprehensive than MCuban.jpgyou ever knew.


Take Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks – who have jumped proactively into the analytics game and are discovering new insights that many other NBA teams are just starting to uncover.


For example, in a recent one-on-one session at SXSW 2014, Cuban told Guy Kawasaki of Alltop,


“I hired a big data analyst and one of her jobs is to look at pricing data that we generate internally and also from third party resale markets. So then we can see demand for different types of games, what the impact of weather is, which seats are selling more, which seats [should] get a premium [for] which games and then price our tickets optimally: so the perfect price is what the market defines. That’s a big change historically for sports teams because traditionally we just set one price for every ticket and that’s what it is…but a Mavs/Spurs game is going to have more demand than a Mavs/Cleveland Cavaliers game is going to have. And if that game is on a weekend it’s going to have more demand than if it’s on a Monday. So we’re becoming a lot more cognizant and using big data, just becoming smart in our analytics and defining our pricing.”


Cuban isn’t stopping at hiring an analyst to monitor ticket prices and market fluctuations. His Mavericks were also on the cutting edge when it comes to on-the-court analytics: namely real-time player tracking using SportVU cameras – which has since become a very popular topic in the data visualization community. As written on Mavs.com in November 2013, Cuban’s Mavericks pioneered the technology in 2009-10 and the NBA followed suit by adding the technology to all 29 NBA arenas in 2013. Also in 2013, the Mavs announced that they were going to be the first NBA team to have its players wear a wristwatch called Readiband in order to monitor fatigue through sleeping patterns over the course of the season.


These new insights are leading to more informed decisions on the part of the Mavericks, in multiple departments, from basketball operations to ticket sales. On November 19 at Qlik World Conference, Cuban will dive deeper into his fondness for analytics and the organizational efficiencies it has created as a result.

DataMarketQlik.jpgFor Qlik Community blog followers, let me introduce you to DataMarket. For DataMarket blog followers, let me introduce one of the most innovative companies in the data and analytics space: Qlik.


For those of you coming here from the DataMarket blog that don't know Qlik, they are the Business Intelligence vendor that pioneered the field of data discovery - a nimble, interactive and visual way to work with data that really disrupted the entire BI industry a few years back. With their recent launch of their next generation product – Qlik Sense – the BI process has been made even simpler with self-service discovery and visualizations that are so easy to use, anyone in an organization can build a visually compelling story using their data.


We are not disclosing a lot about our joint plans at this time, but I'll still say that we see some very interesting opportunities in bringing together Qlik's superb analytics products, with DataMarket's unique abilities to pull in, maintain and normalize data from a vast range of 3rd party sources - all in an effort to fulfill the Qlik vision of simplifying decisions for everyone, everywhere.


Also – while headquartered in the US – Qlik is originally out of Sweden with most of their R&D efforts still there. Qlik has some unmistakably Scandinavian characteristics, and after getting to know the company over the last few months I can say that the cultural fit has felt completely natural.


So, for us DataMarketeers, a new and exciting chapter begins. We will no longer be posting to the DataMarket blog and social sites and you won't hear a lot from us in the next couple of months, but when we come back we'll have a new home on the Qlik blog.


In the meantime we encourage you to learn more about Qlik and follow on social channels so you’ll get all the news from us in the future:

John Sands

Roll up! Roll up!

Posted by John Sands Oct 27, 2014

Have you noticed how fads and trends appear so often in the industry we work in? It almost harks back to the days of Victorian London where traveling salesman would stand on a soap box and talk about the latest and greatest invention or potion that could make you rich or cure all ills. The people in that time would often be duped in to believing that this potion would restore their virility or grow back their hair. More often than not the salesman would have run off to the next village by the time they found out the truth, leaving them with an unused comb and an unhappy partner.




In the case of BI they talk about “algorithms” and “slowly changing dimensions” or they throw 100’s of acronyms at you with a knowing smile. I wouldn’t like to count how many times I have been caught in the head lights of a consultant trying to prove how clever they are and how happy I should be to pay their $2000 a day fee. We blindly stumble through a smog of conflicting stories, emerging technologies and data the size of an African Elephant.

But we have a weapon in the war against technology without substance we can do that one thing the balding villager couldn’t do, we can turn round and say “prove it”.  There is nothing like having the product go through its hoops before making that all important decision. At Qlik we call it a SIB (yes I know another acronym) which is short for Seeing Is Believing and generally in the business it’s called a POC or Proof of Concept. So why is it so important? Well who knows your business the best? You do, and no amounts of canned demos are going to show you what you want. That’s like buying a house after just seeing someone else's house on a video it just doesn’t make good sense.


But this is a pretty common approach when purchasing any BI solution so why do we still have that very low figure of 26% adoption for BI tools? Obviously part of the answer is the right tool for the job. But also is it the right tool for your job? The only way you can prove that is by making sure you understand what that job is. Too many projects get lost in the strangulation of “scope creep” and all because both the client and the provider do not have a locked down defined project. If all you do is define success metrics then you are going in the right direction but the real clue is in the phrase “User Adoption” it will only work if your user base has a feeling of ownership and not dictatorship. Thanks for taking the time and reading my blog, now I am off to try my new anti-gravity shoes I got off the internet.



With all the talk about cloud analytics last week, I thought I'd share my thoughts on the subject.


I don’t care where you keep your data.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t care, you should care, I just don’t care because I’m interested in analysis.  At Qlik that is all we are interested in – enabling people and companies to find insights in their data regardless of where that data happens to be.


QlikView and Qlik Sense both use the well-known and proven associate indexing engine that excels at combining data from multiple sources, regardless of where the data resides.  All it needs is connectivity to the data and the data can be combined with any other data.  Attempting to move all data to a single system, whether the system is cloud based or an on premise data warehouse, is completely futile. No matter how quickly you move your data there will always be new types of data and new sources required.  That is not to say consolidation of data has no value, just that there will always be ‘additional data’ to be included.  So house your data where it makes sense for you not where the analysis platform requires.

QlikView Product Unlock Data

I don’t really care where you locate your infrastructure either.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t care, you should care, I just don’t care because I’m interested in analysis.  Perhaps you want your entire deployment in the cloud or perhaps on premise is right for you.  Maybe a deployment that seamlessly combines on premise with cloud is the right balance.  The Qlik Deployment Console can manage all these deployment scenarios and allow you to change the scenario as your needs change.  You can manage multiple nodes across multiple geographies all controlled from one place.  If your server capacity needs change then servers can be added or removed on the fly, without incurring licensing costs.  If you’d rather use a managed service to share your insights then Qlik Cloud may right for you.


So far I wrote about a few things I don’t care about so I will conclude with what I do care about.  I care about flexibility.  The only thing I know for sure about the future is that it will be different from today.  I expect there will be more data from a great variety for sources and the line between cloud and on premise will blur.  At Qlik we will continue to invest in offerings, including cloud offerings, while continuing to strive to provide flexibility that can adapt to changing needs and realities - we’re interested enabling insight.


Josh Good

Director of Product Marketing

P.S. I also don’t care what device you use…but I’ll save that part for another post

As you have probably seen from today’s news, QlikView has been ranked first in the customer satisfaction, performance satisfaction, product satisfaction, and considered for purchase categories among large international BI vendors for BARC 14.


We feel the love from our customers as a result of this survey; and taking a look back - it’s been a great year so far. With that in mind we wanted to capture some of the best quotes from 2014 in one place: here is today’s Top Ten List ladies and gentlemen, let’s go.


Top Ten Things Our Customers Have Said About Qlik


Here we go number 10…


René Grieder, Head of Group Controlling at Zehnder Group “With QlikView, we could achieve quick wins and did not have to wait several months or even years to experience success."


Several months Paul…several months! Number 9…


Yadeenthra Nathan SK, Executive Information Officer at Thangamayil Jewellery “Previously, we had no real insight and could only look at data of three to five showrooms at a time and our business was suffering. The complete return on investment in just one year with QlikView is amazing.”


Aaaaamazing. Number 8…


Frank Kozurek, Business Intelligence Manager at National Express “I’ve worked with various BI platforms for ten years, and QlikView is the only one to have exceeded my expectations.”


Ten years…the network said THIS SHOW wouldn’t last ten years! OK, Number 7…


Harald Roshardt, Head of Analysis & Reporting at Helsana “QlikView is not only more cost effective than an SAP or IBM Cognos solution would have been, but it also allows us to obtain insights into our current sales activity and analyze the data in seconds.”


Actually I think that’s what the network likes about us is that we’re cost effective! Nummmmberrrrrr 6…


Matthew James, President and CEO at Purity Life Health Products LP “Purity Life can actually correlate a turnaround in our profits with the use of QlikView.”


That’s a funny word…corrrrrelate, oh well Number 5…


Arkadiusz Kowalczyk, Director of IT at Schneider Electric “The time savings achieved with QlikView gave us the equivalent of four more days each month. I highly recommend QlikView for any large company looking for a reporting tool.”


Corrrrrrrelate…Number 4…


Pedro Martinez Melgoza, Global Pricing Manager at Siemens Building Technologies “When we implemented QlikView, our goal was to make sales transactions more transparent so that we could analyze and derive faster and easier appropriate pricing strategies and decisions.”


The missus tells me ALL of my transactions need to be transparent…OK Number 3…


Jean-Michel Mougeolle, CIO at Mikit “The wealth of analysis and speed of obtaining information effectively facilitates the daily work of our business users and allows everyone to access the information they need at their fingertips.”


[Throws cue card into background scenery, glass shattering noise overheard] Here we go, Number 2…


Joana Oliveira, BI Team Leader at Unicer “In the supply chain we have been able to reduce the time spent tracking performance indicators by close to 80 percent, in purchasing we saved up to 50 percent on our expenditures and in our sales department we have shortened the information acquisition process by 40 percent.”


Savings, Paul, savings….aaaaand the Number 1 Thing Our Customers Have Said About Qlik:


Kevin Rowland, Business Information Manager, at The Warehouse Group “We have been able to gain insights that just weren’t possible previously and when I demonstrated this to the General Manager in charge of operations he stood and said ‘I could kiss you’.”


There it is ladies and gentlemen….


From everyone here at Qlik, we want to thank you customers for ranking us #1! We appreciate you all and look forward to what 2015 will bring!

John Sands

Face the Facts

Posted by John Sands Sep 26, 2014

The human face is the ultimate visualization and we spend most of our life looking for answers in it. We often misread them and can actually be purposely mislead by them.

To help us get around this the lie detector was invented, the most common of those being the Polygraph which was invented in the 1920’s by John Augustus Larson, his parents were Swedish which just goes to show lots of innovation is born out of Sweden. His invention tried to get behind the face and find out whether people are telling the truth or not.




The face and the brain are intrinsically linked but do we take everything on “face value”? We don’t and that’s because we can’t read a person’s mind and find out what is going on behind the expression.

We simplify them and send them in emails and texts because people can’t see our faces. I also listened to a very interesting program on the radio where due to the obvious limitations of this medium they were experimenting by using a swanee whistle to show an upward or downward trend on a line chart, try and do that with 100 data points.



Some people actually can’t interpret expressions due to a very sad condition that affects the brain and stops us from recognising faces it’s called Prosopagnosia and is caused by damage to a part of the brain called the fusiform gyrus. Every time they see a face they are unable to tell if they are a member of their family or a complete stranger. This underlines our reliance on viewing patterns from an upward trend on a line graph to the downward turn of a person’s eye brows.

As we look someone in the face we have to make a decision based on what we see, if they are well known we can pretty quickly judge their mood or reaction to something we have said, but with strangers that can be more difficult and often we can misjudge their moods or make the wrong assumptions based on previous experience.

Luckily with information we are able to read the mind of the visualization and look in to its brain. The tables, columns and rows of a databases mind are freely available and can help us make decisions based on facts, even the relationships and history can take us down the right path.

We are constantly making decisions based on information that is foreign to us and by just relying on data at face value we can be prone to misinterpretation. Look behind the smile you may be surprised.

John Sands

Blinded by Science?

Posted by John Sands Aug 14, 2014

With the advent of increasingly larger sources of data it is becoming even more difficult to view or imagine patterns within these data sources. This has become very important in areas such as science; the Genome project for example identified 2,000,000 Genes in the Human Genome, imagine looking at that as a series of numbers.


In 2013 Greg McInerny, Senior Research Fellow in Information Visualization for the Biological Sciences at Oxford University attempted to do some research on how visualization is used by scientists. There is an excellent blog on this published by @FutureEarth. Scientists are inherently skeptical of visualizations. Moritz Stefaner referred to it as “Dumb Blonde Syndrome” the idea that if something looks good, it is suspect. But even skeptical scientists are coming round to the idea that visualizations have their place in detecting patterns and outliers within massive amounts of data.





The visualization above shows the structure of a molecule. This would be impossible to view with the naked eye and can only be viewed by rendering a visualization utilising huge amounts of data. But its not just a case of taking huge amounts of data and creating a pretty picture, the following example proves the point.






It is impossible to view all of the slices and don’t even start to work out the percentages.

A good visualization becomes even more important when the stakes are really high. In the pharmaceutical industry it takes on average 12 years to take a drug from discovery to market and the process can cost around $4 billion. Only 10%-20% of new drugs make it to market and at any point the process can fail either due to adverse patient reactions or the drug just not being as effective as first thought.

You can imagine anything that can increase the likelihood of a drug getting to market is embraced. Data visualization can allow Researchers and Data Scientist’s to explore hugely complicated data sets and also then relate discoveries to non-technical audiences such as investors and regulators by using story telling.

What this says is that although we concentrate on specific subjects such as, Visualizations, collaboration, and storytelling none of these can work in isolation. The scientist will not trust the visualization without data and you can’t rely on data on its own without collaborating with your peers. So what you need is a harmonic join between the three factors.

Please don’t think I am trying to simplify things there are obviously many more pieces involved in this complex puzzle. But as the heat is turned up in the visualization arena and battle is joined between the main players, we will see the creativity of many a web developer let loose on even more and more fantastic visual delights. But embrace the scientist in you and look for substance in that style.


John Sands

Sensory Data

Posted by John Sands Jul 21, 2014

Why do people still go shopping rather than using the internet all the time? After all, the internet is normally quicker and your local shopping centre can never hope to have as many brands as you can find using your PC or tablet. It’s partially a social thing - we like to meet up with friends have something to eat and a chat. While we are shopping it’s a tactile thing - holding the item (or even smelling it!) as this reinforces the fact that it is real and of good quality. Retailers know this and try to lure us in with bright signage and interesting aromas. Once we have purchased our items we sit down with our friends over a drink and compare our purchases hoping for compliments or praise.

Ladies.jpg(Getty images)


When we are shopping on the internet we have none of this sensory feedback, apart from maybe a few flashing banners. We have to trust what the retailer has told us about the item and trust that what they say is true even down to the dimensions. This is difficult, and why some people will go to the shop see the product and then buy it on the internet.

If we are like this when shopping for clothes then consider how people  behave when looking at millions of pounds, euros or dollars of sales figures and inventory items.  Just like when internet shopping, we are compelled to trust the numbers and words we see on the screen even though there is much more at stake, the money is not in a safe somewhere or the inventory may be 1000’s of miles away. This is even more important when we talk of fully optimized supply chains where stock is kept to the bare minimum.



(Getty images)

We solve this problem of trust by working in groups and comparing against known facts we’ve encountered before. How were the sales of this product last year? What are the sales of comparable products? We then show these figures to our peers and ask for comment, slowly turning over the figures in our head.

So replace the attractive signs with compelling visualisations, the aroma with data scent (bit of a stretch I know) and the chat with friends with real time collaboration.You then have a business discovery tool such as QlikView, which helps people feel, test and believe the data they’re seeing.

None of this is new.  It’s just taken a while for software providers to catch up with the human brain!

I don’t like clichés, but idioms help us to understand common conceptions (and misconceptions).  As with many sayings, the origins of the idiomatic expression “a picture is worth a thousand words” are obscure.  However, its meaning as it relates to the BI space is clear; it “aptly characterizes one of the main goals of visualization, namely making it possible to absorb large amounts of data quickly”.


The power of visualization is undeniable, and Qlik has always been in the vanguard of using human visual acuity to help us get value from data. I’ve personally written and presented on this for years*, and Qlik continues to build amazing visualization capabilities.


There’s an issue with visualization though – in that it’s only part of the picture!  Charts alone are arguably just better descriptors of data – great for information delivery – but are only partially valuable when it comes to analysis. To be of more analytic use, the visualizations must be fully interactive, paired with and powered by navigation capabilities.  This combination enables the free exploration of the data pictured, and the data not pictured but in the dataset.  (See Curt Monash’s blog ‘Visualization or navigation’ for an independent take on this.)


If visualization is not paired with navigation two things occur.


First, people have to create more and more visualizations to try and replicate an exploratory experience, i.e., to picture more perspectives on the data.  This is not optimal.  It takes time.  Further, while linked visualizations are useful, trying to compare across many different visuals is difficult for people. It’s not uncommon for organizations using visualization tools that lack full interactivity to end up with many hundreds of charts because of this need.  Chart bloat is a problem; reading a large amount of charts is as hard trying to assimilate the meaning of many words.  Academic institutions often limit the length of doctoral theses to 100,000 words.   Assuming the cliché’s broadly correct, if a picture = 1,000 words then just 100 charts = PhD thesis!


Second, and more seriously, if the focus is more about picturing data than navigating and exploring it, then there’s simply less business value to decision makers.  Any initial picture describes the state of data, providing an answer to the ‘what’s happened/happening?’ questions posed by organizations.  Answering the ‘why?’ questions that immediately follow demands rapid iterations through the data, re-picturing it if needed, or using alternative search and navigation experiences, so decisions can be made.


Ironically, I’ll rely on a visual from independent analyst Cindi Howson’s rigorous ‘2014 Successful BI Survey’ report as a proof point here:


Chart from 2014 Succesful BI Survey.jpg

Source:  Cindi Howson, ‘2014 Successful BI Survey’, February 2014, pp40.  Used with permission.


I’m not sure if this picture tells a thousand words, but it certainly speaks volumes (cliché!) about the relative business impact of combined visualization and navigation, given that the BI industry average for delivering ‘significant business impact’ is reported as just 28%.




*For subscribers my 2011 Gartner paper 'Who's Who in Interactive Visualization for Analysis and Dashboarding' may be of interest.

John Sands

Laughter the Best Medicine

Posted by John Sands Apr 23, 2014

I have spent the last couple of weeks traveling round Australia and South Africa talking about Natural Analytics and it is fascinating watching the way this subject resonates across the globe. Even though my brain has been turned to mush by the different time zones, as soon as I am on that stage the adrenaline kicks in and I come alive. This is the same adrenaline that would have given me the extra strength to have avoided being eaten 1000s of years ago. So we adapt our innate abilities to help us even when the original reason is largely not valid anymore.


When presenting I use humor and this is another example of how we use our bodies natural abilities. Laughter actually triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain. So hopefully when you have watched me present you feel a little better afterwards.





So as we go through our modern life our body is using innate abilities that evolved to help us survive in a very different environment? Well I am not so sure that is completely the truth. Yes of course we are not being hunted down by Sabre Toothed Tigers or having to fight the tribe next door for the best camp site, but we are still to a lesser extent fighting for survival! I admit the chances of you getting a spear in the back as you walk to work are remote but the chances of your company losing a deal to a competitor because you have poor visibility of the sales cycle is much more real.


These abilities are within us and have evolved through natural selection to help us. Why does a bubble chart work? It’s because we can easily spot outliers, things that are different and that’s because our visual acuity developed long before our ability to read and write. Which one of the graphics below is easier to interpret?






They are both a series of lines and numbers but somehow the line graph is much easier to interpret and see patterns. A lot has been talked about Natural Analytics and how it helps us tap in to innate skills and resources, my journey across the globe has helped reinforce my belief in the common sense of it and how it just works. So come on the BI industry catch up or you may be the one that is eaten by that Tiger.



The Associative Difference is about the dynamic experience the user has with the BI application. It's about answering that next unanticipated question. It's about exploring ALL the data freely, in any direction without any predefined paths and with no data being left behind.  It's about quickly finding new discoveries where all data sources are important. There isn't any one emphasis on one particular data source such as being labeled primary or secondary like with sql-based query tools. It is also one of the many facets that makes Qlik unique. Yes, the Associative Difference could be imitated by other software and if so, I'm sure the work involved is not as inherit as it is in Qlik. With Qlik it is automatic. At previous companies I even tried to imitate it and it took a lot of work and I still could not get it right. Oh and BTW, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so thank you, I digress, let's continue.


golden.pngI close my eyes, my brain is an enormous database and without any visual stimulation to help me, I ask myself the question: What is my favorite apple?  Golden Delicious pops into my head. Now, even though I know the answer immediately, my mind has collected enough data over the course of my lifetime to process and come to this conclusion. My decision is based on a combination of senses such as sight, smell, taste and texture. Over time, I have satisfied each one of these senses by querying the various combinations of flavors, textures, varieties and colors until I found my favorite. In BI terms, these criteria can be seen as Dimensions – the textual and descriptive component used to find my favorite apple.


The mind is processing various bits of data naturally from its years of information gathering and its surrounding context. It is inclined to ask more and more questions until the user is satisfied that enough information is received in order to make the correct or desired decision.  Note that these questions are not predefined or prescribed however; they are freely formulated based on previous results and can be asked in any order.


This process is the basis of Qlik's Associative Difference.


The Power of Qlik's Associative Difference


I open my eyes…I now imagine I am able to visualize and interact with this data and its surrounding context in a single location, a QlikView application. I visualize the dimensions I associated with the apple: its varieties, colors, flavors and textures. Possibly, another category is available for comparison such as vegetables. Measures, the numerical component of the data, are introduced and automatically calculated and aggregated on the fly very quickly - displaying how many are grown or consumed in each region. I can further analyze this information using a variety of filters that show all related selections while still retaining the ones that are unrelated. At first it appears to be akin to a traditional BI dashboard, but with traditional BI a linear approach to analyze data is commonly used. For example, with traditional BI, once values are selected or filtered, the surrounding data and other context that either may be related or unrelated is lost; removing any possibility of making new discoveries, not the case with QlikView.



So, with Qlik how do I visualize and maintain the aforementioned associations similar to those that were previously formulated within my mind? The answer is Qlik’s associative difference visualized with green, white and shades of gray. By starting anywhere in the application and simply selecting one or more visualizations or list box values, all other visualizations, selections and aggregations dynamically update based off of that selection without losing surrounding context of the un-selected data. Selected data is highlighted in green, related or associated data is highlighted in white, unrelated data is highlighted in dark gray and with Qlik Sense - possible related values to the current selection that are not being viewed are highlighted in light gray. This gives the user an overall picture of the relationships in the data - quickly and easily. I can simply see all other surrounding dimensions and their related or unrelated values based off my initial selection. This allows me to ask that very important next, non per-determind question. Selecting yellow and crisp from the select boxes – not only shows me what fruits are yellow and crisp but also what vegetables are yellow and crisp too – the selections in white. I have made a new discovery.  I have found vegetables that might appeal to my texture and color preference. The power of Qlik's Associative Difference helps guide me to my respective decision as well as prompts me to ask the next question that possibly I did not anticipate – such as which yellow and crisp vegetables might also appeal to my taste. The power of Qlik's patented Associative Engine specifically lets you experience interactive, free-form exploration unlike what you would get from relational databases and SQL queries which were not designed for modern analytics.


Qlik delivers the world’s first associative difference. It manages associations among data sets at the engine level, not the application level and stores individual tables in its associative engine. Every data point in every field is associated with every other data point anywhere in the entire schema allowing users to quickly and easily explore data freely and answer that very important next question.


So there you have my perspective on the associative difference. Tell me what you think.




Michael Tarallo
Senior Product Marketing Manager



John Sands

Touch and Go

Posted by John Sands Feb 21, 2014

My career before Qlik went down many paths. I served in the Royal Navy and after that an electrician, life guard, fax machine engineer, delivery driver for my friend’s bakery, software trainer, product management and finally in to Pre-Sales at Qlik! Two things propelled me in my career choice; either necessity (had to pay the bills) or noticing a new opportunity and going for it. Towards the latter half of my career path it was technology that attracted me.  I’m continually fascinated by how the world of technology is changing. We are very lucky in the technology sector that things change very quickly and you never get bored - there is always something new to learn.

As a consumer we wait for technologies to appear and then make a choice about whether to use them or not. As a technology vendor things are not that simple! Making the decision on what technology to develop - to put your money on - can be a gamble.  Let’s not forget Sony with Betamax and Philips with Laser Discs…




My first experience with QlikView was version 5 and to be honest it was not the fastest tool at the time, because it was an in-memory product and memory was very expensive and you were lucky if you had 32 mb of RAM on your PC and a 266 mhz P2 processor. But the gamble paid off and now my laptop has 4 GB of RAM and with high end servers 2 terabytes of RAM is available.

So Qlik got it right that time. However, the trick is repeating it.  It’s not good enough just to be right once, you have to keep on doing it and in my opinion Qlik has.

One of bets we’re making is to use HTML5. The title of my article is touch and go, that’s because HTML5, really unleashes the potential of any web based software especially in the arena of touch activation. In my opinion in future all software will need to have the possibility to be interacted with on a touch device, whether that is a tablet or a smart phone (or whatever comes next). For those of you who have attended the Business Discovery World Tours you will already have seen the new functionality of QV Next and how it has been designed for touch first. At our most recent employee summit we were blown away by the functionality just around the corner.





So finally, we will be able to start moving away from the 150 year old technology of the QWERTY keyboard which after all was designed to stop a mechanical typewriter from jamming.

Henric Cronström

The Key to Heaven

Posted by Henric Cronström Feb 4, 2014

“To every man is given the key to the gates of heaven. The same key opens the gates of hell.”

                                                                    [As told to Richard Feynman by a Buddhist monk]




To the Buddhist monk, these words were a general guide to how to live your life.


To Richard Feynman, the words were about knowledge and science: He was convinced that Science, per se, is neither good nor bad. It is just a tool – a tool that can be used for both.




When I see these words, I think of some of the functionality in QlikView: Functions and features that were introduced to solve problems that would be difficult or impossible to solve otherwise: Triggers, Actions, Dollar expansions, Set analysis, Alternate states, Show conditions, etc.


These features are all keys to heaven. Correctly used, they can enable you to build an application that calculates and compares immensely complex things, while still presenting the data in a way that a user can understand and investigate further.


However, the very same functions are also the key to making user-hostile and unmanageable applications, e.g. through:

  • Set analysis that hard-codes a selection – instead of letting the user select interactively.
  • Excessive use of Dollar expansions, Variables and Show conditions, which make the application difficult or impossible to manage.
  • Alternate states that are poorly labelled, so that the user gets confused about which selection really is applied.
  • Triggers with Actions or Macros that perform navigation or selections that really ought to be user-initiated and not automatic.


Enable the user!


The user will learn to interact with data, if you only let him. Most users have very intelligent questions and want to navigate in data, explore and discover things. Let them do this.


But if you instead obscure the QlikView logic by introducing too much additional logic using any of the above mentioned features, the user experience will be a very different one. Instead of an active, smart user, you will produce a passive user that doesn't understand how to use QlikView effectively and instead uses the application as a static report.


Some pieces of advice:

  • Navigation and selections should be left to the user. Don’t automate this. Let the user make the selections and interact with data.
  • Label fields and charts so that it is clear what they show.
  • Avoid hard-coding filters. For example, if you want one graph showing the numbers for 2014 and second graph for 2013, you should not create two separate graphs with the years hard-coded. You should instead use a Trellis chart with year as first dimension.
  • Avoid using Triggers and Macros.
  • Always ask yourself “How is this going to be managed? Is this a manageable solution?”


Don’t let the QlikView functions get in the way of making a user-friendly and manageable application. Instead, use them wisely.





Filter Blog

By date:
By tag: