I recently spoke with Bill Lay, former BI director at Technicolor and now an independent QlikView consultant. I wanted to understand what inspired him to go off on his own and focus his fledgling business exclusively on Business Discovery--exclusively on QlikView.
QlikView "A-Ha" Moments
A few years back, Bill created a BI prototype that had about 50 million records in it. Creating the prototype was an enormous undertaking. It involved setting up tables in SQL Server, building a Business Objects universe, and creating static reports. The process was so onerous that the business sponsor decided not to pursue the project.
Bill's first "a-ha" moment with QlikView occurred the first time he got his hands on the software. He tried once again to create the prototype he had tried to build in the past. This time he used QlikView. Results were immediate. Performance, even with 50 million records, was "spectacular"?even on a standard business-grade laptop. "QlikView is fast," Bill said, "but not quick and dirty. It's quick and robust."
Another area where QlikView really shone was flexibility. "I took what I had done with SQL Server integration servers and BO and replaced it all with one box: one QlikView app," Bill said. "That's when I realized this is far more than a dashboard tool."
Bill also pointed out that with QlikView, going from a prototype to a production application is an order of magnitude easier than it is with traditional BI tools. With other BI tools you throw away the prototype and rebuild a production application. But with QlikView it's pretty much seamless. When you're happy with your prototype you put it on a server and apply security to it. You can decouple the data from the code gradually, if you want to. Bill said, "You can get your application out the door, then come back in and do some refactoring if you need to. It's the concept of incrementally coming in and polishing off pieces."
The Business Value of QlikView
Thinking back on his time as a BI director at Technicolor, Bill describes the power of bringing together in one place data that may have been seemingly unrelated. He was able to remix and reassemble data sourced from multiple systems?data people previously were not able to analyze all at the same time. He was able to handle significant volumes of data and to link the data together in meaningful ways.
He also used QlikView to identify anomalies in the data. "In a traditional approach," Bill said, "to try to do a quick analysis you might try to link the data up, then create Excel spreadsheets to manage the master data. With QlikView, you set up inline tables in QlikView. You explore the data and can see when things don't match up. It may seem like a small thing, but for our application we were able to see that in some cases we abbreviated the word 'avenue' while in other places we didn't. This kind of visibility into data quality helped us improve our operations."
At Technicolor, interest in QlikView exploded as Bill and his team began to show it around. QlikView usage and adoption spread all the way up to senior management, and the organization was able to do some great things to optimize operations. Eventually, it got to the point that QlikView was all Bill wanted to work on. Thus his transition?luckily for us!?from BI director at a multi-billion dollar company to independent QlikView consultant.