A New York Times article from a few months ago really startled me.  The headline was “U.S. to Be World’s Top Oil Producer in 5 Years, Report Says.” This contradicted everything I had known about the slowdown in American oil production.  So what was the game-changer?

There are several components of the sudden shift in the world’s energy supply, but the prime mover is a resurgence of oil and gas production in the United States, particularly the unlocking of new reserves of oil and gas found in shale rock. The widespread adoption of techniques like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling has made those reserves much more accessible.

Until recently, my concept of oil drilling was like this diagram:oilwell.jpg

Find a pocket of oil buried underground, put an oil well on top of it, drill until you hit that oil pocket, and pump until the well runs dry. But most of the untapped oil in the world is not in nice neat reservoirs. It is trapped inside rock formations that are spread over great distances horizontally. To unlock this reserve, two key technologies are required:

  • hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”: creating fractures in rocks and injecting fluids to force the cracks open and release trapped oil and gas
  • horizontal drilling: the ability to drill horizontally, thus be able to follow the natural direction of the oil and gas deposits


What does this have to do with QlikView? Well, we don’t know who first coined the phrase “Data is the new oil” but it is clear that organizations of all kinds are scrambling to unlock the value of their data. Unfortunately, they are still using old technology that can only drill down into data and unlock small bits of value at a time. This is not only true of traditional BI techniques of creating data cubes (thus limiting users to summary views of the data and preventing them from finding the insights hidden in the details) and predefining drill paths (thus limiting users to a narrow line of thought through a report). This is also true of many of the new generation BI tools that promise “ad hoc query” and “multidimensional drill paths” with snazzy visualizations to boot, but hide the fact that underneath the glamour is the same old SQL query on a single data source.

You may already know about QlikView’s distinctive associative experience, which shows with every click what data across the entire data model is associated and what is not. However, what is often less well known among those looking for a truly intuitive and agile BI platform is the fact that QlikView allows users to have that experience across different datasets simultaneously.

A brilliant example of this was recently shared by a customer speaker at a recent QlikView Technology Summit. Larry Griffiths, BI Manager at Bentley Systems, Inc., works at a software company with a broad portfolio of products catering to the infrastructure engineering industry. Their primary data source was SAP BW. With their existing BI tool, they struggled to enable simple tasks like pipeline and contract reviews for sales managers. They also had other data sources, such as log data that tracked actual usage of their numerous software products. Trying to analyze all that information together was difficult.  After spending a year and half searching for a solution, they selected QlikView.  In the words of the speaker, the breakthrough came when with QlikView, “…within half a day, on a little 4GB VMWare instance, we had pulled in 200 million rows of contract data and usage data.  A problem we haven’t been able to solve for a long time was solved.”

After they deployed QlikView, users from across the company found many ways to extract real value from data, via the ability of QlikView to drill horizontally and ‘frack’ the data for its valuable insights.  For example, the product development group made use of an affinity market basket analysis app, which answers questions such as “what products are used most with what other products?” By doing so, they saved over $2.5 million in software development costs in the last year by dropping unnecessary software integration projects.

They are experiencing amazing discoveries by tying multiple data sources together. The latest effort is combining revenue data from SAP BW with usage data from the application server with training data from their learning management system (LMS). What insights could they extract with this? For one, they will be able to correlate the training level of their user base with higher usage of their software and increased revenue. This gives them actionable insight across the entire company to improve customer training programs, upsell training seats, and increase revenue via better bundling of relevant software and training.

To visualize this with the drilling analogy, other BI tools can only deliver this siloed view of data, which not only keeps data fragmented, but leaves users frustrated and resorting to using Excel to get at the insights they need, which defeats the purpose of the investment in BI. QlikView gives them a holistic view, which enables them to extract maximum value from data.  Isn’t that what we all want?


Click here to watch a recorded webinar by QlikView and Bentley Systems.


Do you have a story of “horizontal drilling” with QlikView?  Please share it below!