Elif Tutuk

QlikView “Aha!” Moments

Posted by Elif Tutuk Mar 16, 2012

I was thinking about why developers become so addicted to QlikView after they start using it. Why did I become a QlikView addict? My reason is that QlikView gives users a moment of clarity, an “aha” moment, while they are creating apps. QlikView lets them use the features that they already know in different ways where they gain new wisdom to use their curiosity and creativity.



I decided to list and share some of my QlikView “aha” moments with you. The list has some simple and some advanced capabilities. The video is a quick run-through showing some of them in action.

  1. Drag and drop to open a QlikView application:
    • Drag and drop a QlikView application (qvw) file into the QlikView Developer client to have it opened.
  2. The power of gray and selections:
    • With QlikView, users can literally see relationships in the data. They can see not only which data is associated with their selections, they can just as easily see which data is not associated. This generates new insights and unexpected discoveries.
    • With a right click, they can reverse their analysis by selecting the non-associated data (select excluded).
    • By using the “show alternatives” option on list boxes, the user can get further insight on the data values that are related to the selection state besides the green value.  When a selection is made on a list box, the selected value is highlighted in green and all of the other values are highlighted in grey. If the user would like to get insight on the data values that are still relevant with the selection state in addition to the green value, they can check the “show alternatives” option and can get insight on all of the relevant values in addition to the selected value.    
    • The user can move between selected values in a list box by using the down arrow on the keyboard. As the selection changes with the down arrow pressed, the charts recalculate on the fly and the user sees changes in the data. 
  3. List box with expression:
    • The user can create new data selection points by creating a list box with an expression. For example, the expression can define the sum of sales at the customer level. The user can then make selections on these new data points to do further analysis.
  4. Calculated dimensions:
    • The dimension values on charts do not need to exist in the data model; new data points can be created and used as dimension values on charts. For example, in a chart showing the inventory quantities by the number of weeks, the number of weeks is a calculation that is used as dimension values. 
  5. Bookmark:
    • In QlikView, the current state of selections can be saved as bookmarks for later use. To create the bookmark, QlikView does not store the actual data values; it stores the criteria that are used while the selections are made (the filters the user applied). If the selection criterion is an expression, let’s say “top 15 products,” QlikView will store the expression and when the data refresh happens, the updated top 15 products will be displayed when the bookmark is selected.  
  6. Document chaining:
    • With document chaining, it is possible to open one QlikView application from another QlikView application and carry the selection states from the first to the second application.
  7. Power of in-memory data transformation:
    • QlikView provides tons of functionality to transform data in memory. It is possible to create new tables, and new fields in memory to use them in Business Discovery. Please see the script syntax part of the QlikView reference manual document.
  8. Data exploration:
    • On the table viewer, when hovering with the cursor above the fields, users can get information about the data density and subset ratio to understand any data integrity issues. The number of selected values vs. all of the values is displayed on the right bottom part of the QlikView screen.
  9. Binary load:
    • With binary load, it is possible to load the in-memory data model from one QlikView application to another one. Binary loads are very fast. It is possible to do further in-memory data transformation on the data after the binary load.
  10. Search:
    • QlikView allows search not only by actual data values but also by new data calculations. For example, the user can type “=rank(sum(Sales)) <=5” on a product list box. This would select the top 5 products based on sales. The same type of search can be done on a search box. In that case, QlikView not only will display the top five products but also all of the associated data (e.g., sales people, regions, price, etc. . . anything related to these five top products). Pretty powerful! 

These aha moments are some of the “unlisted” benefits of QlikView. Although people have different experiences in their lives that would result in “aha” moments, only QlikView users will experience all of these aha moments while doing Business Discovery or creating Business Discovery apps!

I love this: “Quantifying our cost savings or QlikView’s ROI doesn’t do the solution enough justice. After all, how can one measure the true value of true Business Discovery, which helps the entire organization focus on KPIs, revenue growth, and cost reduction?” This is a quote from a new customer case study about Aon Groep Nederland BV’s use of QlikView. You can download the four-page case study here.Aon logo.PNG

In just a day and a half, the project team was able to install QlikView Server; extract data from Oracle, Peoplesoft, Salesforce.com, and Microsoft Excel; and create three apps — an app for monitoring response to damage claims, a shared services dashboard, and a Salesforce.com dashboard. Sound unbelievable? It would have to Aon, too, before they experienced it first hand — and this is why we call our proofs of concept “Seeing Is Believing” events (or SIBs).

Arjan van den Herik, project management office manager, Organization & Automation division, said, “What happened . . . defied belief. We spend just a single day on the development aspect, and only half a day on the visual layout of the dashboards.” The project team created an app that provides insight into critical success factors of the damage claim handling process, a shared services dashboard for financial reporting, and a Salesforce.com dashboard for analyzing customer relationship management at various levels of detail.

I also like the way Arjan van den Herik described Business Discovery apps. He said, “A Business Discovery application should be a small-scale application that is used for a specific purpose.” That’s the beauty of QlikView. Quickly and easily, you can create not just a report or visualization or dashboard but an entire application that enables users to explore data drawn from multiple systems. The users can ask and answer streams of questions on their own and in teams and groups, from in the office or on the road with their mobile devices. And in Aon’s case, it’s all in the name of fulfilling the client promise of value add and impact.

In a recent blog post, “To Be (To Cloud) or Not To Be (Not to Cloud) BI,” Forrester analyst Boris Evelson wrote about the alphabet soup of cloud- and SaaS-based BI.* In his post, Boris noted that there are hundreds or thousands of domain- or industry-specific cloud-based BI applications out there. He’s right on.

SaaS BI Sweet Spot - blog V1.png

We are seeing a huge pull from the market for purpose-built, task-specific software applications that are easy for customers to acquire and learn how to use. As Boris put it in his post, this kind of SaaS offering is continuing to “pop up all over the place.”

Who’s delivering these apps? Our OEM partners. To name just a few:

And they’re all doing it using QlikView to deliver Business Discovery to their customers.

QlikTech’s role in SaaS BI is to arm our partners with the premium Business Discovery software platform for building Web-based analytic apps. With QlikView, our partners quickly and easily create domain-and industry-specific analytic apps and deliver them any way they want to: on-premise, desktop applications, mobile apps, in the cloud, or via a SaaS model. Users can then explore the procurement, channel, or school performance data any way they want to, following their own path to insight and discovery.

Cloud- and SaaS-based BI are especially attractive to our partners and their customers when the data needed for analysis also resides in the cloud. One great benefit to customers is the ability to benchmark themselves against peers using a similar platform (e.g., comparing spend data or channel data against the competition). As more and data moves into the cloud, and the practice of BI commonly incorporates more externally-sourced data, we expect to see the number of SaaS-based analytic apps only increase.


*SaaS = software as a service

I recently gave two presentations on trends in BI at IT conferences in Sweden and South Africa and one of the trends we are seeing very clearly is the trend towards enabling discovery:


Discovery (dis-ˈkə-v(ə-)rē): Find (something or someone) unexpectedly or in the course of a search. (ref. Google)


To understand the reasons for this we need to understand why discovery is such an important aspect of the decision-making process that BI is supposed to support. As the definition states, discovery is about finding something unexpectedly during a search. While many discoveries are irrelevant and ultimately useless, others are so groundbreaking in their significance as to make all other useless discoveries worth the waste of time.



                                                                                                                                                                          (Source: www.creativeclipsonline.com)

I wonder how many useless discoveries Sir Alexander Fleming made before he went on vacation in 1928, inadvertently leaving a petri-dish filled with bacteria to grow a mold that would ultimately be the genesis of the anitbiotic that has had such a profound impact on humankind over the last 80 years. The discovery of penicillin was neither expected nor even the reason why he was conducting his research. But it was discovered nonetheless.

The scientific world is full of examples of game-changing discoveries like Sir Alexander’s. Some have a smaller impact than his, yet are still very notable. From the discoveries that led to Post-It Notes, Velcro, cellophane, brandy (cognac), the microwave, Teflon, even Viagra: the world is full of examples of individuals or groups discovering something unexpectedly in the course of a search (often for something else!).

Discovery isn’t – and shouldn’t – be limited to the scientific community. Discoveries happen every day in the business and consumer worlds. In business, discovering that your company is selling more of a product in one region than another, or that on a given day of the week, at a particular time, the quality of product on the production line drops, or that when Product A is placed alongside Product B on your store shelves both products sell more – all of these have an extremely valuable place in our professional lives.

Up until recently, our business software has failed in its attempt to facilitate the discovery process. This is not an indictment of the people charged with implementing and running the projects; rather it is a reflection of the fundamental architectures that the traditional BI vendors were forced to choose when decision support became prevalent. Constrained by disk-based and query-based architectures because of the high cost of memory at the time, the natural free-flowing exploration of data that might ultimately lead to discoveries was not permitted to occur. In order to try to alleviate this restriction, the notion of OLAP and cube-based technologies came to the fore, but without the desired results. The fundamental restriction was the underlying reliance on disk-based and query-based technologies that were a) too slow and b) technically difficult to master. Ultimately, what BI became was the provider of standardized reports with well-defined KPIs and other metrics and dashboards which offered the users a limited data exploration experience.



It was here that "end users" truly became END users; they were the end of a process of data collection, modeling, and cleansing, and report generation. At QlikTech we talk about the "end of the end user." With Business Discovery, the person actually using the software to make decisions through interesting discoveries is not thought of as the "end" of anything. Rather, they are the beginning of something. The beginning of the discovery process. The beginning of a process that allows them to ask and answer their own questions without restriction, without needing to follow pre-defined and restricted exploration paths.

The trend towards discovery in BI has been made possible with QlikView, which adopts a radically different approach to data access and analysis. The dramatic reduction of the cost of memory coupled with innovations such as associative data modeling and data exploration has given business users the ability to explore data to encourage those key discoveries. Gone are the restrictions around old, pre-defined data exploration paths, and are now replaced by an unrestricted approach to data discovery where business users can ask and answer their own questions, regardless of how the data has been structured further up the chain.

Imagine if Sir Alexander had been restricted by not being allowed to see the famous mold forming on his petri dish. In a traditional BI world, this path of insight would have been shut off to him, simply because it wasn’t something that had been pre-determined.

Since the beginning of 2009, he has run the equivalent of 39% of the way from Philadelphia to San Francisco and has driven 19% of the distance from the earth to the moon. He has eaten 792 eggs and burned 1,411 gallons of gasoline. He runs an 8.4 minute mile. His name is Michael Anthony.

Michael Anthony is a designer at QlikTech. Since 2009, he has tracked a variety of data points in his life. Why? "Just to see what would happen." Now it’s a habit. Prior to joining QlikTech he used to publish his findings in a digital poster he called his “personal annual report” (check out the poster version of his 2011 annual report).

My Life in Data 2.png

Michael still publishes the posters. But when he joined QlikTech in 2011, he used QlikView to create an app he called My Life in Data (check it out on our demo site here). He now uses the app to drive his work on the poster — and the app is an experience in its own right. My Life in Data features personal data Michael collected during 2009, 2010, and 2011. You can find out how many times he’s washed his car, which months he tends to go to the movies, and what percentage of the time his lucky charm helps his home team win.

Believe it or not, Michael Anthony is not the only person who enters data about his life in a Google spreadsheet multiple times per day. In fact, a whole movement can be traced to a journalist named David Wolf who started publishing his thoughts about his personal data collection on his Quantified Self blog in 2007. There are thousands of people do this, for a variety of reasons. As Gary Wolf said in a 2010 TED video, “The self is just our operations center, our consciousness, our moral compass. So if we want to act more effectively in the world, we have to get to know ourselves better.”

I asked Michael Anthony whether he has derived any unexpected insights from collecting personal data and putting it in an interactive app. He said, “The surprising part is that when you aggregate the numbers and see them on the screen, they seem so large. And putting it in context really helps you visualize the numbers." Seeing the cold, hard data on the screen — and having something to compare it to (e.g., last year’s numbers) — can lead to insights powerful enough to change one’s behavior.

Between 2009 and 2011, Michael has increased the average number of miles he runs each day from .68 to 1.21. He consumed 91 fewer beers and 24 fewer soft pretzels in 2011 than he did in 2010. And he maintained a striking consistency in his consumption of apples. I look forward to his 2012 annual report, which will contain even more data points now that he is using a FitBit.

In the TED video journalist Gary Wolf said, “New tools are changing our sense of self in the world . . . [These tools] can be useful for self-improvement, self-discovery, self-awareness, self-knowledge.”  Whether or not that was the intention Michael started with, it seems to be a result. Hats off to him; his ongoing quantified-self work is an inspiration to me, and hopefully will be to you as well.

The very concept of what a book is has changed. (The same is true with music videos — check out Björk’s Biophelia — but that’s a topic for another day). What was a sheaf of paper pages glued and stitched together has evolved into an interactive, high-tech experience that combines images, text, animation, sound, video, touch, and more. (It’s all very “Harry Potter.”)

What hasn’t changed is the human desire to hear and tell stories . . . to be transported into other worlds of imagination and possibility. I recently watched the TED video, “Using tech to enable dreaming” by illustrator, storyteller, and iPad book creator Shilo Shiv Suleman. When Shuleman first experienced the iPad, she saw it as a storytelling device that could connect readers all around the world. In this video, she shows off her latest storybook creation, an interactive fantasy adventure called Khoya.

In Khoya, you (the reader? user? player? actor?) type in your name and become a character in the story. Using the iPad’s location services, the app knows where in the world you are. You tilt your iPad to let glowing fireflies out of a jar and they illuminate your way through the story. Maps guide you; they change and grow, revealing more detail as the story unfolds. At one point in the story, the screen fills with images of leaves and you are instructed to blow against the iPad’s microphone to push the leaves away. At another point you are asked to go outside and use the iPad’s camera to take pictures of items in the natural world (e.g., flowers and bark). These photos become part of your version of the book. You can upload your collection of photographs to a social network of other Khoya readers from around the world.

Imagine This

As I watched this video I thought about the extraordinary possibilities for data storytelling. A big part of decision making is persuading others to get on board. Sometimes hard data is enough to convince people; often it isn’t. Qualitative inputs are also important — other peoples’ opinions, questions, perspectives, and experiences. Very often, decisions have a strong emotional component. How much easier would it be to persuade others to support a decision, join a cause, or champion a needed change if you could tell compelling stories about the data?

The fantasy aspects of Khoya aside, imagine incorporating some of its storytelling power into your presentations at work. Imaging inviting your management team to an important decision-making meeting. You ask them to point their iPads to a server where they interact with a data storytelling app. A map guides them through a series of data visualizations. They can easily change the charts and “data pictures” on the fly to view the data in ways that make sense to them. 

At each transition in your presentation, you give them the code (“Tap twice on the image of the power plant”) to enable them to unlock the next “chapter” in your data story. With the app you are able to guide them through your discoveries and recommendations. They pass their iPads from one person to another as the conversation flows and they come up with insights. The managers in the meeting feel connected to the data and emotionally involved in the decision. You have won them over.

I recently asked Noel Shannon and Paddy Moore of QlikPower, a QlikTech partner in Ireland, what they love about QlikView 11. I was so enthused about the answer that I decided to write about it. QlikPower has built a series of business apps and extensions based on the QlikView Business Discovery platform. QlikPower’s Q200 is a BI app designed to work with the Sage 200 enterprise applications. And QlikPower’s Accelerators are data connectors, data models, metrics, KPIs, and applications ready for use in your QlikView apps.

What do you love about QlikView11.png

Noel and Paddy had a quick answer to what they love most about QlikView 11: capabilities that make life easier for developers, such as comparative analysis and conditional enabling. When building the Q series of their solution line, QlikPower developers knocked about 20% off their development time by using QlikView 11 versus QlikView 10.

  • Conditional enabling. Prior to QlikView 11, they use to show a single expression (measure) in a chart at any one time or they had to use complex “if” statements to show multiple measures. With QlikView 11 they enable the user to choose which expression they want to see — and it only took a few minutes to set this up.
  • Comparative analysis using “alternate states.” And with QlikView 11 it became very easy to enable the business user to select different time periods to compare — say, a week from 2012 to a week from 2011. Noel Shannon said, “Users love this flexible analysis that puts users in control.” (To learn more about comparative analysis and conditional enabling, check out the “What’s New in QlikView 11” data sheet.)

Overall, what Noel and Paddy love about QlikView is that it helps their customers “get to BI quickly.” QlikPower’s customers will typically have an enterprise application system that manages inventory, accounts, profit and loss, sales, etc. QlikPower offers a BI solution to run on top of those enterprise applications.

After the solution has been implemented, the customer instantly sees the value and the first question they ask is, "Can I bring in other data sources?" In one example Noel gave, after they implemented the Q 200 app for a hospital that used Sage 200, the hospital administrators immediately asked, “Can we get our patient data in here for analysis?” The answer is, of course, yes. With a QlikView dashboard, decision makers can have all the data they need there in one place — without having to move it out of its source system.

How about you? What do you love about QlikView 11?

In this, the final part of the series examining the role of IT in Business Discovery, I highlight how IT professionals extract great value themselves in using QlikView for their own Business Discovery purposes.


Part 4: Business Discovery for IT: Making sense of all those log files


In addition to being the central element in supporting QlikView deployments, IT groups have adopted QlikView themselves to address their own business discovery requirements. QlikView is used by IT professionals in hundreds of organizations to help them analyze and make sense of system log files, helpdesk ticketing and asset management requirements (i.e. SLA monitoring, location and status of laptops, desktops, mobile devices, server infrastructure).


Below is a screenshot of a QlikView application that allows IT managers to monitor their helpdesk operations. Managers can see a high-level dashboard and can drill down into specific operators, departments and customers and can look at the volume of calls per shift, average wait time etc.

   Helpdesk.jpgBusiness Discovery for IT: Helpdesk monitoring


Another good example of IT professionals using QlikView is for the management of assets under IT control (e.g. laptops, smartphones). In many organizations these assets are in a constant state of flux – some fall out of warranty, some need repairing, some need replacing completely. The application below (and located on our demo site here) is a very good example of an solution that allows IT hardware managers to monitor their assets.


Asset Management.jpgBusiness Discovery for IT: IT Asset Management


This concludes the series on the role of IT in Business Discovery. In this series I’ve outlined how Business Discovery liberates IT and allows them to focus on areas that are core to their skill-set: data preparation, data and application governance and infrastructure provisioning and monitoring. Because Business Discovery enables a true self-service approach to BI, IT professionals can remove the backlog of requests for new reports and new queries from the business.

With QlikView, The business drives BI at the micro level while at the macro level the IT BI group facilitates enterprise initiatives like governance, data standardization, security and scalability.

How Did We Get Here?

Posted by Erica Driver Feb 28, 2012

The universe of business intelligence (BI) and analytics (a USD $85.6 billion market by some counts*) is in the midst of a sea change. Business software as a whole is in the midst of this change. In fact, it’s not just business software — it’s technology in general. And books. And music. This change, as I heard Aberdeen analysts David White and Michael Lock put it recently, is “the IT-ization of the consumer.” QliktechInfographic_#3E6C87.jpg

By the IT-ization of the consumer I am referring to the growing comfort and command that everyday Joes — people like me — have with technology. We have become adept — in fact, experts — at using technology to obtain information and answers, communicate with others, and acquire tools. We use technology to make stuff — to publish books, make art, build websites, produce videos, and create analytic apps to help us make business decisions.

Look at all the change that has occurred in BI during the past sixty years. BI began with basic decision support in the 60s, along with the help of computer-aided models that enabled decision-making planning. Over time, technology and BI simultaneously evolved, shifting power from the technology to the business user.

BI and analytics have gone enormous change to get where we are today, which is Business Discovery —a user-driven approach to BI. Business Discovery enables business users to get fast, accurate data that’s easy to access and interpret so they can make better decisions.

And the change has only just begun. I foresee the IT-ization of the consumer transforming BI even further, to the point that BI and collaboration are indistinguishable. We will routinely make data-fed decisions not just in the workplace but at home. I say “data-fed” rather than data-driven because our decisions will continue to rely not just on quantitative data but qualitative inputs as well. And the user experience to guide our decision making at home and at work will draw us in and immerse us, engaging more of our senses (particularly sight, sound, and touch). The more interesting question is, “How far will we go?”

* According to IDC, in 2010 the total market for business analytics technology and services grew 12.4% to reach $85.6 billion. IDC expects to see that there was further 8% growth in 2011 and forecasts the market to grow at a 7.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2015. Source: IDC, Worldwide Business Analytics Technology and Services 2011-2015 Forecast,” December 2011.

In this, the 3rd part in the series of posts about the role of IT in Business Discovery (see Part 1 here and Part 2 here), I'll explain how IT groups play a central role in ensuring that there is proper control and governance over Business Discovery deployments while ensuring that they still can continue to empower the business functions to be creative and flexible.

Part 3: Business Discovery: Providing Flexibility at the Edges while ensuring Discipline at the Core

Many IT professionals get worried at the mention of ‘Self Service’ anything. And for good reason: with limited resources, IT groups must ensure that the mission-critical systems that the organization uses are operational at all times and are providing the service they were originally provisioned for. The only way to achieve these service levels is to ensure a degree of standardization and control. For example, imagine the support nightmare if everyone in the organization was using a different email system? Or if there were 100 different operating systems to support? Standardization has ensured that businesses can run profitably for a long time.

Disc at core Flex at edges2.jpg



Unfortunately, too much standardization and process can very often get in the way of the business’ legitimate needs to stay ahead of the competition and remain profitable and growing. This has led to the classic chasm between IT groups and business groups that is too prevalent today.

Business Discovery is user-enabled BI and provides a largely self-service approach for business users to interpret their data in the manner they wish so that they can remain effective in meeting the needs of the business. It allows them to ask and answer their own questions – instantly - explore and make discoveries in the data, without having to constantly return to the IT department for every new request. This is made possible because QlikView’s "app approach" uses a pre-built data model (i.e., it is not a direct query solution) meaning that business users have all the data they need for a given analysis. QlikView also provides associative data capabilities that allow users to navigate in the data in any manner possible, ensuring that they do not need to ask IT every time a new drill down path needs to be created. I encourage you to refer to the white paper “What Makes QlikView Unique” for a deeper understanding.

Successful Business Discovery implementations strike a healthy balance between the needs of the IT organization to ensure control and standardization and the business sides’ needs to remain flexible. QlikView provides a rich set of capabilities to meet the needs of IT when it comes to ensuring control, including (but not limited to):

  • Multi-tiered environments, including data, application and presentation tiers
  • Security integration with Active Directory and almost every single sign-n solution
  • Built-in row-level security, linked to LDAP roles
  • Straightforward, yet extremely powerful, automated metadata on everything from data usage/lineage, application usage, common KPIs, license usage.
  • Clustered/failover environments to ensure SLA adherence
  • External triggering and alerting of data reloads and application availability
  • Management Services API for integration with existing IT command-and-control infrastructure
  • Governance best practices for application promotion (Dev/Test/Prod), data usage, application usage
  • Direct integration with SAP, Salesforce.com, Trillium, Informatica and others
  • Integration with source control systems for deployment and change management

In the final part of the series, I'll show how IT professionals can use QlikView themselves, to support them in their own decisions about systems usage, SLA monitoring, IT asset management and more.

I recently read Seth Godin’s We All Are Weird, a book about marketing and the way society is changing. Being in product marketing at QlikTech, one of the major themes of the book really struck home. That theme is something along the lines of “The Age of Empowerment.”

We Are All Weird - book cover.JPG

Godin wrote, “ . . . the increasing impact of amateurs working to professional standards . . . means that amateurs, unannointed by any profession entity, can publish, create, and connect. It means that a single individual can change the way we think about just-in-time manufacturing, Halloween costumes, or anything in between.” This is a hugely important concept when it comes to business intelligence. When it comes to BI, you no longer have to be a pro to be a . . . pro.


In a May 2011 report about Big Data, McKinsey Global Institute estimated that by the year 2018, there will be 440,000 to 490,000 positions in the U.S. for people with deep analytical talent. These are the “anointed” professionals. McKinsey also noted that there will be 8 to 9 times as many (4 million) positions for data-savvy managers and analysts. These are the Pro-Ams (professional-amateurs) — the people who explore data, make discoveries, and derive insights that lead to better business decisions. They may not have advanced degrees in statistics. But they know their business inside and out and they are empowered to publish, create, and connect.


In the past, Pro-Ams have been under-served by the BI platforms market, which delivered tools that were really designed for business analysts and other data experts. They weren’t designed to be used by business people. But everything changes with data discovery software. According to Gartner, data discovery vendors’ innovations have had a direct impact on how easy BI software is to use and therefore adoption by business users, not just analytic experts. According to Gartner, “We see the beginnings of this trend emerging and expect it to have a significant impact on this market in the years to come — both for consumers and authors of business analytic content.” (See the February, 2012 Gartner report, “Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms.") This is a very exciting trend for the millions of BI Pro-Ams around the globe.

In my first post in this series about the role of IT in Business Discovery (located here), I talked about how Business Discovery is helping IT professionals to become champions to the business once again because it liberates them from the mundane and - frankly - inefficient tasks associated with Traditional BI (such as constant report writing, for example). This 'Win-Win' situation is helping fuel the enormous expansion of QlikView's impact across thousands of organizations across the world every day.


In this, the secord part of the series, I examine the various business and IT roles specifically and their impact on a Business Discovery deployment.


Part 2: Business and IT: Sharing the benefits together by understanding everyone's role


IT professionals have varied roles to contribute within a Business Discovery deployment. It’s quite typical for there to be an ‘overlap’ point between the business functions and the IT group. Business Discovery fosters a closer and more productive relationship between the business and IT professionals because this overlap point promotes a very collaborative approach to data provisioning and application design and –ultimately – application usage.


Roles in BD.jpg


The image above (click to expand) shows a simplified and generalized view of the various ‘actor’s' in a typical Business Discovery deployment, from both IT and the business. It’s worth remembering that the roles are often blended together, particularly in smaller organizations.


  • CIO/VP of IT: Their interaction with QlikView is typically by means of a dashboard view of IT-operations data such as asset management and procurement, systems SLA KPI’s (Service Level Agreement Key Performance Indicators) and headcount. For the CIO or VP of IT, a Business Discovery implementation means more than just dashboard views however: They are charged with ensuring the IT function supports the business as efficiently and effectively as possible. In the provisioning of Business Intelligence, QlikView enables them to grow their BI throughput without growing the costs associated with this growth because of its speed of deployment, more efficient use of IT resources and the secure self-service nature of QlikView.


  • Enterprise Architect: Once deployed, an Enterprise Architect will typically analyze usage, configuration and capabilities delivered by QlikView in the organization, ensuring that the correct infrastructure resources are being provisioned and that security policies are being adhered to correctly. The Enterprise Architect will also assess the integration capabilities between QlikView and other tools in the enterprise information chain. In the procurement process, the Enterprise Architect has a critical role in ensuring that QlikView will fit within the organization’s existing infrastructure and governance models.


  • Data Analyst: Their role in a centralized, enterprise-wide deployment of QlikView is one of provisioning data models that meet the changing needs of the business. In typical organizations today, new data requests are frequent and the role of the Data Analyst is to ensure correct ETL (Extract Transform and Load) models are in place and that the data being provisioned is of high quality. Data Analysts will use QlikView Developer to build the ETL scripts, create –and maintain - the data layer and ensure that data is both relevant and current.  They will also use the many free QlikView utilities to monitor and support the data layer within QlikView.


  • Business Analyst: They have a critical role in any Business Discovery deployment: they are typically the ‘crossover’ point between IT and the business functions. In many instances – particularly in larger organizations – BA’s will be attached to the business directly. The BA will typically use directly, or change, existing data models based on their own needs (usually provisioned by a Data Analyst) and will build the applications that are ultimately used by the business users themselves. With the rapidly changing requirements of businesses, BA’s will often create new applications on a very regular basis. This is one of the key tenets of QlikView: the rapid application development process that allows businesses to react a ever-changing environment.


  • Business Users: Rather than being ‘end’ users, business users are the start of the discovery process: with the applications that are built with QlikView, they can – themselves -- explore, interact and interpret the data using QlikView’s unique associative technology, without having to constantly return to the IT group to have a new report or query generated. QlikView even allows business users to build their own dashboards –from within the zero-install AJAX web client – using the high quality and secure data that has been provisioned to them from the IT group.



Existing IT Skills Transfer easily with QlikView

IT departments with existing traditional Business Intelligence deployments can re-use a large proportion of the existing skill-sets for a QlikView deployment. This ensures that QlikView deployments maintain a lower overall TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) and also ensures that QlikView can sit side-by-side with those existing deployments within the same department or BI Competency Center. This topic was covered in the blog post “QlikView and IT: Like Chocolate and Peanut Butter”.  Figure 4 highlights where there is significant skills overlap of general BI skills with those that are needed for large QlikView deployments, such as SQL scripting, data modeling, testing, integration and project governance models. The areas that require new skills training are relatively small and include a knowledge of the QlikView UI environment as well as – for system administrators – the QlikView Management Console. Both areas are relatively straightforward to get familiar with, especially for IT professionals.


The image below (click to expand) illustrates the various skill sets that are needed for QlikView deployment, and how many of them typically exist within an organization already:


Skills Transfer.jpg

In the next part of the series I'll look at what 'Self Service BI' means for IT professionals responsible for a Business Discovery deployment.

Last week I had great opportunities to touch the pulse of the BI software market and get a sense for what’s on peoples’ minds right now. At the Gartner BI Summit in London I participated on a vendor panel (barely – I arrived 10 minutes before show time due to a flight diversion to Germany because of British Snowmageddon) and co-presented about social Business Discovery with EAT Ltd., a cutting-edge QlikView customer using our software to support property acquisition decisions. While I was at the Gartner BI Summit I had a one-on-one with Gartner analyst Rita Sallam and had one-on-one meetings with eight QlikView customers. While I was in London I also spent time with a few other European industry analysts who cover QlikTech: Alys Woodward of IDC, Clive Longbottom of Quocirca, and Helena Schwenk of MWD Advisors. And, finally, last week Gartner published an update to its Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms report — a pithy report full of great detail about the state of the market (download the report in its entirety here).

With all of these market touch points in a concentrated period of time, two trends floated to the surface:

  • User-driven BI is becoming more prevalent. In the Magic Quadrant for BI Platforms, Gartner wrote, “In 2011, business users continued to exert significant influence over BI decisions, often choosing data discovery products in addition to/as alternatives to traditional BI tools.” At the same time, the definition of a user is broadening. Last year the analysts saw significant increases in demand from a wide array of users: line workers, business analysts, advanced analytic professionals, business executives, customers/constituents, partners, regulators, and IT professionals. An observation: IT professionals are users, not just implementers of, BI. And IT professionals are a critical part of the business, not separate from it.
  • The use cases for BI platforms are broadening. I listened to or talked with people who use BI software to optimize the supply chain, identify tax dodgers, manage investment portfolios, identify at-risk medical patients, monitor network health, decide which properties to acquire, optimize street traffic patterns, identify kids likely to become unemployed so they can be helped . . . and myriad other things. The common thread among all the stories was a need to make better decisions.

I wound down the week with a strong feeling of being in the midst of a large, slow-moving storm. The use of — the very definition of — BI is changing as we speak. How is QlikTech staying ahead of the storm? With a laser focus on our mission, which is to Simplify Decisions for Everyone, Everywhere.

Fail Fast, Succeed Faster

Posted by Erica Driver Feb 15, 2012

Our VP of Marketing Americas, Lara Shackelford, came to Boston and we had a chance to spend some time together. Lara has great insights into the high tech industry and BI market so I thought I’d share some of them here with you. 

Fail Fast, Succeed Faster.jpg

Lara was talking about how the excitement about Facebook’s $5B IPO filing, and the interest in Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated as the lead underwriter (trading volume for shares of Morgan Stanley rose up after the announcement), reminded her of the excitement around QlikTech’s own IPO in July of 2010. QlikTech’s IPO was regarded by industry analysts, press, and investors alike as highly successful.

Lara pointed out that reflecting on the excitement around Facebook reminded her of a value QlikTech shares, which centers around “move fast.” The value harks back to the esteemed American inventor, Thomas Edison, who said on his way to inventing the light bulb, “I have not failed; I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

The most successful people know how to “fail fast”

It’s well understood by venture capitalists that an entrepreneur who has founded companies that have failed is more likely to get funding again than an entrepreneur who has had one great success. Why? Because people learn more from failure than from success. But how exactly does “fail fast” differ from “give up early?”At Facebook, there is a saying that adorns their conference room walls, “Move Fast & Break Things.” Similarly, at QlikTech one of our core values is “Move Fast.” We believe it is okay to make mistakes as long as we learn from them.

This core value is at the heart of the QlikView Business Discovery platform, too. QlikView helps people test hypotheses and move fast. We allow decision makers to “Build to Think,” and do it quickly, so they can learn and test various hypotheses. (See the related blog post “QlikView Supports a Build to Think Approach to BI.”) Users can ask a business question, pop up a chart to find the answer, make selections to see associations, and change the chart or create a new one instantaneously. They can invite others into shared sessions and together they can test and prototype, learning all the while, without taking their eyes off the data or interrupting their thought process.

What will you do? Will you move fast? Are you willing to aim for a field goal, give it your best, and fail? Will you allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them?

There’s an analogy for what’s happening with Big Data today: the last mile in telecommunications. Businesses and public institutions have invested billions of dollars in the network backbone for telephone, cable, and Internet services. With access to these services from our homes, we can shop, play games, do research, get work done, conduct business, and communicate and socialize with friends and family. And there’s a fair amount of money to be made by telecom service providers from the monthly fees consumers pay for this access.

Last mile of Big Data.jpg

One of the big challenges in telecom is the “last mile” — bringing the telephone, cable, or Internet service to its end point in the home. It is expensive for the service provider to fan out the network from the trunk or backbone – to roll out trucks, dig trenches, and install lines. As a result, in some cases they pass high installation costs down to the end customer — or neglect to go the last mile at all, forgoing the revenue stream from those customers and leaving homes in rural communities without access to critical services. 

An October 19, 2011 article in Hearst Communications’ Times Union, “Rural life carries $2,647 cost for cable,” describes this situation for people living in the rural community of Ballston, New York. Unlike families who live in more densely populated areas, a family in Ballston was asked to pay the Time Warner cable company $20,000 to install cable in their home. Time Warner suggested that to reduce the cost, several nearby families might join together and split it, which could bring it down to $2,647 per household. In situations like these, families have to either pay up or do without.

There is a “last mile” problem in Big Data, too

Big Data refers to the enormous volume, velocity, and variety of data that exists and has the potential to be turned into business value. According to IDC, the volume of digital content in the world will grow to 2.7 billion terabytes in 2012, up 48% from 2011 — and it’s rocketing toward 8 billion terabytes by 2015.* Big Data can be structured or unstructured. It can be created by people, calculated by systems, or generated by machines.

McKinsey Global Institute has found that Big Data creates value in a few important ways:

  • Creating transparency
  • Enabling experimentation to discover needs, expose variability, and improve performance
  • Segmenting populations to customize actions
  • Replacing / supporting human decision making with automated algorithms
  • Innovating new business models, products, and services**

The challenges of ordinary BI are exacerbated by the volume, velocity, and variety of Big Data. Deriving the types of business value McKinsey describes requires taking Big Data the last mile into the hands of business users. The question is: how do you deliver data services to the people who need them? How do you empower business users with self-service and give them an excellent experience that will keep them coming back for more? How do you enable them to explore the data on their own and in groups to discover insights? To make discoveries that help them innovate? How do you help them simplify decision making, and turn decisions into action?

Today, most of vendors working on the problems of Big Data are focused on processing the data — they are focused on the backbone, to use the telecom analogy. This is an important problem area to address. The trouble is that working with Big Data requires a specialized skill set and level of technological sophistication that ordinary business users don’t have.

The last mile: this is where QlikTech fits into the picture. QlikTech’s mission is simplifying decisions for everyone, everywhere. With the QlikView Business Discovery platform we have user experience in our DNA. Our business model supports a fan-out to the business users — the corollary of the home in the telecom analogy. QlikView is a great complement to the capabilities of vendors focused on processing Big Data, as QlikTech partners like DataRocket, Dell Boomi, Informatica, and Trillium Software can attest. Big Data vendors and Business Discovery vendors like QlikTech can benefit mutually and grow the entire market opportunity by working together. Bring on the Big Data challenge! (See the related post, "QlikView and Big Data: It's All About Relevance."


* Source: “IDC Predictions 2012: Competing for 2020,” December 2011.

** Source: “Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity,” May 2011. McKinsey Global Institute is McKinsey & Company’s business and economics research arm.

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