The Associative Experience is about the dynamic experience the user has with the BI application. It's about answering that next unanticipated question. It's about exploring data freely without any predefined paths. It's about quickly finding new discoveries. It is also one of the many facets that makes QlikView unique. Yes, the Associative Experience could be imitated by other software and if so, I'm sure the work involved is not as inherit as it is in QlikView. With QlikView it is automatic. At previous companies I 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.
I 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.
This process is the basis of QlikView’s Associative Experience and part of what we refer to as Natural Analytics™.
The Power of Green, White and Gray
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 QlikView how do I visualize and maintain the aforementioned associations similar to those that were previously formulated within my mind? The answer is QlikView’s power of green, white and gray. By starting anywhere in the application and simply selecting one or more list box values, all other visualizations, selections and aggregations dynamically update based off of that selection without losing surrounding context of the unselected data. Selected data is highlighted in green, related or associated data is highlighted in white and unrelated data is highlighted in gray. 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 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 green white and gray 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.
QlikView delivers the world’s first associative experience. It manages associations among data sets at the engine level, not the application level and stores individual tables in its in-memory 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 experience. Tell me what you think.
Senior Product Marketing Manager