Business Discovery is a new – and different – approach to traditional, hierarchical BI, enabling business users to make discoveries in their data themselves and ask and answer their own questions, without needing to return to IT every time a new query, report or visualization is needed. The role of IT is a critical element for the success of any Business Discovery implementation. QlikView enables a true IT-led Business Discovery approach allowing IT to manage the deployment at the macro level and allowing the business to manage it at the micro level. IT is placed in the center of all successful deployments and Business Discovery enables IT to become champions to the business once again.

This post is part of a series that examines the role of IT in Business Discovery.


Part 1: Traditional BI falls short and has cost too much

The drawbacks to the traditional approaches to BI are well documented and understood (see the white paper “Business Discovery – Powerful, User-Driven BI”) A report-centric approach to BI requiring multiple elements of a vendor’s stack and a team of skilled data analysts with deep SQL skills is exacerbated by the real frustration within the business (i.e. non-IT) community of inadequate access to data to help them make decisions due to a backlog in requests for new reports and new queries. IT professionals are frustrated by the wasted investment in building large BI systems due to a lackluster adoption by the business functions that they are supposed to be enabling. “We built it and nobody came” is a disheartening reality for many IT professionals involved in Traditional BI projects. For many, the promise offered by Traditional BI has been seen as a failure. As a result, tensions between the business and IT communities increase, data-driven decision making suffers and – worryingly – business units take matters into their own hands by utilizing the most ubiquitous of BI tools out there – the spreadsheet - resulting in ‘Spreadsheet Anarchy’.

It wasn’t meant to be this way. Business Intelligence – once known as ‘Decision Support’ – was supposed to allow people and groups to make better and more informed decisions because of easy access to and consumption of centralized and approved data. Unfortunately, as often happens, technology got in the way and the promise went unfulfilled.

Business Discovery Liberates IT from Mundane Tasks: A ‘Win-Win’ situation

Business Discovery is a ‘bottoms up’ approach to the age-old problem of data access: rather than following a top-down hierarchical approach, Business Discovery gives the decision makers – the business units – the flexibility to explore their data, find insights and turn that data into information, without requiring a costly and inefficient intervention from IT at every step. The effect on the organization is two-fold: firstly, business units can more quickly make better data-driven decisions, without technology (and lack of deep skills to use it) getting in the way. Secondly, IT organizations can now be freed up to focus on their core competencies because the time previously needed for mundane data access and report writing tasks can now be spent on higher value projects for the organization. Not only does the business side’s productivity increase, IT’s efficiency increases, resulting in a classic ‘win-win situation’.

IT at the center.jpg

Figure 1:The Evolving BI Landscape and IT’s Changing Role

A new approach to ‘Self-Service BI’

The concept of self-service BI is not a new one: some Traditional BI vendors have attempted to enable business units to take some control over data access and report generation. Unfortunately what has happened is that these approaches have not satisfied the business’ needs because they have been narrow in scope, have required heavy maintenance from the very IT professionals whom they are trying to liberate, have poor performance and have been – for most business professionals –hard to use. The idea – while worthy – failed in its execution.

QlikView takes a different approach to self-service BI: based on an inherently easier-to-build and deploy model via its associative in-memory technology, IT provisions secure and ‘clean’ centralized business data, the infrastructure and security privileges, while the business units are given the flexibility to explore the data along the paths that they define, introduce additional local data to augment their discoveries and even build their own applications. All of this occurs under a governance framework within QlikView that IT can tailor to meet the specific requirements of the organization. In this way, IT controls the deployment at the macro level while the business units run it at the micro level.


Figure 1 highlights the central role that IT takes in any successful Business Discovery deployment: At the center, provisioning data and services while the business takes ownership of its own analytic needs.


Figure 2 provides a simple view of the impact of Business Discovery on an IT organization. With Business Discovery, requests to the IT department are within a range of requests for new data elements and data sources, new data models (e.g. ‘cleansed’ departmental data) and infrastructure support (e.g. license management). With Traditional BI, requests to the IT department are more frequent: new reports, new data queries (including new OLAP cubes), new views on the data, new data access needs and infrastructure support – to name a few. The net result is that IT departments are typically backlogged with requests from the business, which has a negative impact on the overall efficiency of the IT department. 


BD liberates the IT organization.jpgFigure 2: Business Discovery liberates the IT organization

Figure 2 shows ranges in the amount of requests made to IT: every organization is different in how they implement Business Discovery or Traditional BI. In some, the IT requests are smaller than others. In general, however, Business Discovery implementations require less intervention by IT and allows them to focus on other, more productive aspects of their critical role within an organization. The reasons for this are examined in the next posts in this series.
In the next part of the series, I'll examine the various business and IT roles and their impact on a Business Discovery deployment.

I was at a party last weekend and I realized cheese and crackers is my favorite combination of food. The combo serves as a great snack, especially for get togethers. It is easy to make. This is a food combination loved by both rich and poor, whether you put cheap old cheese on store bought crackers, or the finest truffle laced mature brie onhand made crackers. Then I started thinking about my favorite QlikView 11 features combo.

Which QlikView 11 features when combined together will be easy to develop, unbeatable both for the power users and the business users and would lead users to unexpected business discoveries? My match in heaven for QlikView 11 is Comparative Analysis and Conditional Enabling! And here is why.

Comparative Analysis is a QlikView 11 feature enabling comparison of multiple data sets in a QlikView application. It is a user driven feature. It gives the flexibility to business users to define the values that make up the data sets and visually compare them. Conditional enabling provides the capability to define the content of a QlikView chart on the fly. By using this feature, the developer can define conditions to enable the dimensions and the metrics on the chart.

What happens when you combine them? Users can pick dimensions and metrics to create their own analysis. Based on what they discover with this new and personal analysis, they can create new data sets and assign these data sets to groups to further analyze them in other charts. Don’t you already feel like you are in business discovery heaven?  

The combo is easy to develop as can be seen in the video.  The QlikView application is also attached to this blog. It is simple enough to be used by business users and analytical enough to ease power users’ lives. The combo of comparative analysis and conditional enabling leads to unexpected business discoveries because users can create their own data sets with any dimensions and metrics values and can visually compare them for business discovery.  

Comparative analysis and conditional enabling is my combo QlikView 11 features to be the match in heaven, what is yours?

How many decisions roll up into that moment when a team scores the final touchdown, winning the Super Bowl — that uber-championship of American football? (And as a New Englander, it is begrudgingly that I offer congrats to the New York Giants.) Millions of decisions, I’d guess, depending on how granular you get. Start at the beginning of the season with scouting and player trades, salary negotiations, pre-season workout regimens, training activities, and logistics. Think about every decision the coaches make about strategies and plays. Every decision each player makes every day, when it comes to maintaining their health, managing stress, and strengthening their skills.


Millions of decisions, some large, some small, culminate in winning the grand prize of football, the covered Lombardi trophy. Football decisions, like decisions in other businesses, are based on multiple sources of insight:

  • Data. A recent NBC sports blog article titled, “Unlike Patriots, NFL slow to embrace ‘Moneyball’” highlights the use of data to drive decisions in the game of football. The analytics show that icing the kicker — calling a last-second timeout to put more pressure on him — doesn't work. The cliché that defense wins championships is wrong.  And top first-round draft picks are overvalued compared to picks a bit lower.
  • People.  People don’t make decisions based on data alone. After all, despite data showing that they have a 75% chance of making a first down, players still punt at fourth-and-2. They still ice the kicker. And they still talk about the preeminent importance of a strong defense. Here, the “people” source of insight is the players’ and coaches’ experiences, traditions, habits, and skills. It’s their intuition, their “gut feel,” their beliefs.
  • Place.  Being in a particular place at a particular time yields unique insights. In the football scenario, players and coaches make decisions based on where the ball and players are on the field. On what’s going on in the game at the moment. Other factors come into play as well – such as the weather, whether the game is home or away, and the condition of the field.

Every team reaching for greatness, in any industry, makes a continuous stream of decisions. All three sources of insight together drive optimized decision making, on the game field and off.

By Elif Tutuk and Erica Driver.

The purpose of BI software is to help people derive insights and make better business decisions based on data. So when you think BI you probably think about left-brain activities like analysis, calculations, math, and logic. But not all business problems can be solved with numbers and analysis alone ― and it takes a certain kind of mind to be able to find meaning by looking through rows and columns of numbers. BI software vendors began to recognize this a decade or more ago with an increased focus on data visualization, and with the more recent focus on collaboration and social capabilities built into the software.

Whole brain thinking FINAL.jpg

Being able to see the relationships and patterns in the data takes advantage of the right side of the brain, which is dominant in areas like spatial abilities, face recognition, visual imagery, and artistic and musical ability. Right-brain activities can spark creative thinking ― connecting dots you never thought to connect, and identifying patterns and outliers. And being able to communicate about questions, insights, observations, and perspectives helps all decision makers on a team move more quickly toward answers and action.

One of the things that differentiate QlikView from traditional BI platforms is that it enables people to utilize both modes of thinking. QlikView’s data analysis, charting and reporting, and annotations capabilities enable the left side of our brain to operate logically and sequentially. We could even include QlikView Publisher and QlikView Server here because these components provide administration of the QlikView environment.  

QlikView’s associative experience, visualizations, search, collaborative sessions, extensions, and the QlikView Workbench component enable right brain activities. Here are a few earlier QlikView blogs that demonstrate QlikView enabling the right side of the brain: “’Q’ – Your Business Discovery Personal Assistant” and “Making Everything ‘Qlikable’ with Recognition Technologies” and “The Bicycle of Business Intelligence.”

If we just had right-sided brains we wouldn’t be all that effective at work, and the same goes with the left side of the brain. We need a mixture of ways of thinking and QlikView enables both!

Forrester Research recently published a report titled, “The Future of BI,” (available to Forrester subscribers or for purchase) in which the analyst firm laid its take on the most important BI trends for 2012 and beyond. Consumerization and self-service stole the show.

Forrester’s List of Trends for 2012 and Beyond

  • Individualized BI tools trump standards.

  • A “multiple BI tool” strategy is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

  • Ready or not, information workers will demand more BI control.

  • BI tools that support the right amount of managed end user self-service will become popular.

  • Mobility is no longer a “nice to have”—it will become to new BI mantra.

  • Cloud BI will slowly and steadily chip away at on-premises implementations.

  • BI-specific DBMSes will gain popularity.

  • Big data will move out of silos and into enterprise IT.

  • Exploration will become the new bread and butter of IT suites.

  • BI will integrate with the Information Workplace.


An important trend I think is missing from this list is more tightly integrated BI and collaboration tools. Forrester does mention that BI will integrate with Information Workplaces—multiple technologies brought together in seamless, contextual user experiences that enable information workers to easily access the information they need. But in the spirit of “getting things done quickly,” to quote from this Forrester report, it will be a two-way street.

Forrester - Future of BI - graphic.jpg

BI services will become more tightly integrated with Information Workplaces and, at the same time, BI platforms will incorporate more and more built-in collaboration services. (See the related blog posts, “What’s the Right Context for Delivery of Social BI?” and “Social BI: How Do People Work, and What Tools Are Available?” and “QlikView Supports Multiple Approaches to Social BI.” Why? Because BI and collaboration are inextricably linked. They are two sides of the same coin. Each is needed for the other to be complete; people collaborate about data, and decisions require collaboration. BI vendors will pursue both avenues as means of enabling business users to more effectively co-create analytic apps, communicate with one another, and explore together.

To understand more about spending on technology for information workers, Forrester Research surveyed more than 2,700 IT executives and technology budget decision-makers in the spring of 2011. The firm published results from the survey in the December, 2011 report, “Forrsights: Analytics, Mobile, and Collaboration Lead 2011 Tech Investment Growth” (available to Forrester subscribers or for purchase).

Highlights from the Forrester study

In a nutshell, Forrester’s findings indicate that IT investments are on the rise to help information workers become even more social and more mobile, and even better equipped to find meaning in data.

  • IT orgs plan to increase spending on, and adoption of, BI software. BI/analytics topped the list for highest projected software spending increase, with an average planned spending increase of 3.9% in 2011 over 2010. Likewise, the #2 initiatives likely to be the IT organization’s top technology priorities during the coming 12 months was increasing the use of BI and decision support tools and services. (Sixty eight percent of survey respondents said it was either a high priority or a critical priority.) These numbers make perfect sense when you consider that the top two business priorities in 2011 were growing overall company revenue (65% of survey respondents) and lowering the firm’s overall operating costs (57%). Many organizations deploy BI to help them achieve exactly these goals.
  • Nearly half of orgs are increasing investments in mobility. According to Forrester, growth in adoption of mobile technologies in the workplace was initially powered by employees who purchased their own smartphones and work-related mobile applications to increase productivity and efficiency. In response to user demand, 48% of firms surveyed said they planned to increase corporate spending on mobile apps and mobile middleware in 2011, 42% of firms said they planned to increase spending on smartphones, and 43% of firms said they would increase spending on tablets and application development.
  • Almost 1/3 of orgs said they planned to increase spending on collaboration tools. Thirty two percent of firms said they planned to increase spending on collaboration applications from 2010 to 2011. According to Forrester, the need for these technologies has increased as the workforce becomes more dispersed, with benefits including improved collaboration and decision making, faster problem solving, and reduced travel expenses. Also, 26% of survey respondents said they planned to implement collaborative project management, case management, or services management apps in 2011—and 24% said they planned to implement a social media platform.

Information workers are mobile and social and need easily-accessible, user-friendly tools for exploring data, discovering insights, and arriving at decision. These warm and fuzzy Forrester numbers are indicative of a big effort on the part of organizations around the world to provide information workers—modern-day hunter-gatherers—with the best possible toolkit for getting the job done.

We need information in every aspect of our lives. We search for information when we want to see a movie, when our kids are sick and we need a doctor, and when we want to compare prices while buying electronics. QlikView, with its user-friendly associative experience, can be used in our daily lives to help us filter information and quickly get to what’s relevant.

This video shows a housewife who needs to buy cheesecake from a grocery store. She’s in a rush. She uses “Quick Finder” to find the location of the cheesecake in the store. You can find the QlikView application and the extension object used in the video in here.

The idea for this was born out of a recent shopping excursion. I was doing my grocery shopping at a store that I was not familiar with. After spending many minutes walking down aisles to find things on my grocery list, I started thinking how nice it would be to have a QlikView application that could show me the location of products. I thought about a QlikView extension object that would show me the floor plan of the grocery store and as I selected products, with the location of the product highlighted in color on the floor plan. Maybe it could be made available to shoppers via a tag barcode.

I got excited about the idea of a “Quick Finder” application so I went home and created one. It took me a few hours to develop the QlikView application. I turned on an Amazon EC2 instance in the cloud and put my app on a QlikView 11 server in the cloud. I created a tag with the URL of the QlikView application by using Microsoft Tag Manager. This way, shoppers could use the free tag reader app on their smart phone and the app would automatically open the QlikView application.*

People’s phones are an essential part of their daily life, connecting them to their entire world of information. Using recognition technologies, we can make virtually anything “Qlikable” to enable people to use a Qlikview application from anywhere to find the information they need. QlikView’s extensible and flexible platform can be used with recognition technologies and provides innovative ways of using QlikView in our daily life.

Our goal at QlikTech is to touch the life of one billion users. I believe QlikView is such a flexible product that with this type of innovative use we would help billions of users, including desperate housewives in grocery stores!

* Tag barcodes and quick response (QR) codes are recognition technologies. Companies use them to connect customers to information, entertainment, and interactive experiences via their smart phones.

We recently published QlikTech highlights from the Business Application Research Center (BARC) study titled The BI Survey 10—The Customer Verdict , published in October 2011. (Download the QlikTech summary here.) BARC gathered the information contained in this study via a survey of BI users, consultants, and vendors. The research highlights several of QlikView’s strengths compared to our peers in the "BI Giants" category.*


Cover image - BARC BI QT summary.JPG

BARC's BI Survey 10 provides insight into why and how customers selected BI tools, what they used them for, and how successful they were. The study was based on the analysis of survey results from 2,961 respondents reporting real-world experiencesincluding 182 QlikTech customers and/or partners. 


In The BI Survey 10, QlikView earned a top ranking in its peer group in a number of critical areas:


  1. Overall agility. QlikView scored highest in its peer group in delivering what BARC refers to as “Agile BI”—a style of BI that promises faster, better results.
  2. Implementation time. The evidence shows that it’s better to go live faster, and that QlikView provides the fastest implementations in its peer group.
  3. Performance satisfaction. Performance satisfaction is crucial in BI projects—and QlikView customers had the fewest complaints of any product users.
  4. Suitability. Customers reported that QlikView was the product in its peer group best suited to the projects it was chosen for.
  5. Overall business achievement. Business achievement combines business benefits and goal achievement to measure real benefits after implementation.
  6. Product quality. Customers reported fewer problems with QlikView than with any other product in its peer group.
  7. Overall quality and support. QlikView had the fewest reported problems, to rank first in product quality. QlikView also scored strongly in both vendor support and implementer support.
  8. Customer loyalty. For the third year in a row, QlikView ranked first in its peer group for customer loyalty.
  9. Intent to buy more licenses. Customers know best, and BARC considers it is a very positive sign when existing customers say they expect to purchase more licenses.


These are the opinions that matter most to us: our customers' and partners'. From start to finish, customers are having great success with QlikView. But don’t take my word for it, download your own copy of "The BARC BI Survey 10―QlikView Highlights."


* The BI Giants peer group includes companies with $200m+ annual revenues and an international reach: IBM Cognos BI, Information Builders, Microsoft SSRS, MicroStrategy, Oracle BIEE, Oracle Hyperion, QlikTech, SAP BO Web Intelligence, SAP BW BEx Suite, and SAS.

In a study conducted in October, 2011 for the QlikTech team in the UK by YouGov, we found that British white collar workers are held back from realizing their full potential in a data-driven workplace. YouGov conducted an online survey of 1,051 professional, managerial, and other non-manual workers in organizations of 250 or more employees.

Figure 1 - Info Workers Rely on Gut Feel for Decision Making.jpg

Findings and implications from the YouGov study

  • The vast majority of British white collar workers (93%) believe they deal with numbers and data at work more than or at least as often as they did a year ago, but only about a quarter (28%) have used data to discover anything new about their business that nobody else knew.
  • While three quarters of British white-collar employees (75%) look at data at least once a week, more than half (53%) say they use an instinctive feel for how things are going at work, which they think tells them more than data, when it comes to decision-making (see Figure 1 above).
  • Businesses in Britain appear to be missing out on an opportunity to empower their employees with data; about one in every three workers (35%) say they would be willing to do more data analysis if the software tools were easier to use (see Figure 2 below).


Figure 2 - Tool Ease of Use Is Holding Back Info Workers from Doing Data Analysis.jpg

While this study was UK-specific, I’d be willing to bet that the findings would be relatively similar in other parts of the world. In general, tools for information work are not easy enough to use ― and thus the huge rush toward consumerization. Information workers gravitate toward work tools that are as easy to use as the technology we have at home. We want tools that help us get our jobs done without having to read a manual or go to someone else for help with each new step.

There’s a wide-open opportunity for software that breaks down the ease-of-use barrier,and that’s what QlikView is all about!

“A lot of kids these days like to play games. But now they want to make them.”  -- Thomas Suarez, 12-year-old app developer

When people talk about the consumerization of technology, they are typically referring to ease of acquisition and ease of use. Consumer technology has become so easy to use that it has become second nature to even the youngest among us. (See the related post, “So Easy a Two-Year-Old Can Do It.”)

Another important element of consumerization is ease of creation. Today, even non-technical people can create and maintain web sites and publish blogs and even books. And, with new technologies like the Apple iPhone software developer kit (SDK), it’s easier than ever for people to write and distribute software applications.

I just watched a video of a presentation by 12-year-old Thomas Suarez at an October, 2011 TEDx event in Manhattan Beach, California. According to the World Records Academy, Suarez has set the record for the world’s youngest iPhone app developer. In this TEDx video, Suarez shared the story of how he came to be an iPhone app developer, and what he’s doing to help other kids follow in his footsteps.

Suarez got his start programming in languages like Python, C, and Java, and when Apple released the iPhone SDK, it opened up a whole new world of possibilities for him. Suarez built a couple of apps called Earth Fortune and Bustin Jieber (a Justin Bieber whack-a-mole game) and got his parents to pony up the $99 fee to submit his apps to the iTunes App Store. Suarez has since started an app club at his school, where other kids can come and learn how to design and build apps.

This story has big implications for self-service BI. When we think about self-service BI, we can’t stop at ease of access and ease of use. We must also focus on ease of creation. Self-service BI has to make it easy for users―even non-technical business users―to create their own analysis. Business users need capabilities for quickly and easily modifying apps created by others and, ultimately, easy-to-use tools for creating their own apps. The end goal is empowering business users to ask and answer their own streams of questions.

In a great example of how we at QlikTech apply the use of QlikView to our jobs every day, I wanted to share this story, which may affect those of you who have sales apps. Our director of inside sales Troy Anderson put in place a targeted set of sales campaigns and our marketing operations team set up those campaigns in In “the olden days,” each sales rep on Troy’s team would then have to figure out on their own how to whittle down the list of contacts within each account to determine the best person to call on for a particular outbound or “sales led” campaign.

QlikView yields higher return on energy.jpgFurther complicating matters, some accounts ― and individuals within those accounts ― were good fits for multiple campaigns, which increased the complexity of effort for the sales reps. Additionally, doesn’t provide a mechanism to help the sales reps visualize and track the progress they are making against a campaign.

So one of the sales executives on the team, Jeremy Boesche, created a QlikView app that pulled company and contact details from Salesforce and enabled the sales reps to update contact or account status in Salesforce without having to navigate the campaign function in the Salesforce system. It took Jeremy 2-3 hours to create the initial app, and then an inside sales consultant on the team, Josh Good, spent about a day refining it (creating additional visualizations, improving the look and feel, etc.). This QlikView app enabled the team to aggregate the contacts in an account and discover who the key person was at an account to call on for a particular campaign.

As Troy Anderson describes, as a result of using this app his sales team got a “higher return on energy.” He said, “The reps no longer have to waste time wondering, ‘Where should I focus? Which customer should I call next?’ Now, they use a QlikView app to make an informed decision on who to call." Troy estimates that each sales rep saves at least an hour a day by using the app and spends roughly half the time against a campaign compared to the usual. “As a result of using QlikView,” Troy said, “This has been one of the most successful outbound marketing campaigns we have ever done.”

In December, 2011 InformationWeek published a report called “Outlook 2012” (free to registered users). The report is based on an online survey of 605 business technology professionals (most in IT) in North America conducted in October, 2011. The purpose of the survey was to gauge IT spending, staffing plans, and strategies for 2012.

Report cover image.JPG

Overall, survey respondents expect technology spending to increase in 2012. Fifty-six percent of survey respondents said their companies planned to increase tech spending in the coming year, up from 46% two years ago. In contrast, just 16% of respondents think their companies will cut IT budgets in 2012. A couple of findings are particularly relevant to people involved in BI deployments:

  • Business intelligence is a critical discipline. Almost 60% of respondents said their companies consider it important to do timely analysis of sales and operations data. And mining customer data emerged as one of the top 3 operational and strategic initiatives, trailing only keeping IT systems up and running and analyzing sales and operations. Fifty-four percent of respondents said mining customer data was important. (Interestingly, 21% said it was unimportant.)
  • Tablets are becoming important business tools. Fifty one percent of IT pros in the older 2010 survey “strongly disagreed” that their companies would give tablets to even 10% of employees who normally would get a desktop or laptop computer. In the more recent 2011 survey, just 35% of respondents were that deeply skeptical. And 31% of respondents in the 2011 survey agreed that tablets will become the main device for select employees.

Likely implications for QlikView data wranglers and power analysts, as well as to the IT organizations that support QlikView deployments, (see related blog post, “Self-Service BI: Power to ALL the People”) are that demand for QlikView apps will increase in your organization in 2012, as will demand for support for these apps on mobile devices―particularly tablets.

In November, 2011 Gartner published a report, “Business Intelligence Adoption Trends, 2011” (Gartner subscription required for access). During the four years from 2008 through 2011, Gartner surveyed attendees at its BI summits to track adoption of BI tools by business users. (See the related blog post about the 2011 Gartner BI summit in London, “The Rebirth of BI: The Future Is about Discovery.”) The total number of people who filled out the survey was just shy of 700, with 189 people taking the survey in 2011.

Here are my thoughts about some of the Gartner findings:

  • Self-service BI is the answer to low BI penetration. Gartner is finding that adoption of BI tools by business users has remained static since 2008, with fewer than 30% of potential users within an organization making use of BI. My take: the main reason for this is that most BI tools available to business users are not meeting those users’ needs for exploring data and asking and answering their own streams of questions. In a world of empowered consumers, self-service BI―with a focus on ease of acquisition, ease of use, and ease of creation―is critical to mainstream adoption of BI within an organization.
  • IT and other parts of the business partner closely for best success. Gartner posits that when the business leads the requirement decisions, BI adoption is better compared to when the IT department leads. I'd say that IT support and buy-in is critical for mass adoption of BI tools within an organization—and this is even truer in larger organizations. Widespread adoption of BI tools isn’t about IT versus the business. It’s about the IT part of the business enabling other people in the business with self-service BI. IT can focus on data preparation and governance, security, scalability, while enabling business users to create their own interactive discovery apps.
  • Value is more obvious when adoption is higher. Gartner has found that the higher the adoption of BI within an organization, the more money that organization plans to spend on BI. Organizations reporting strong adoption (>61% of potential users have adopted BI) said they planned to spend 19% of their IT budget on BI software in the coming fiscal year. In contrast, organizations with the weakest adoption (<21% of potential users having adopted BI) said they are planning to spend only 7% of their IT budget in this way. To me, this speaks to the business value organizations get from widespread adoption of BI tools. As more people within an organization use BI software to explore data, derive insights, and make decisions, the ROI (formal or informal) improves and it becomes a no-brainer to continue investments in this area.

While BI software was originally used for core financial analysis, it has moved way beyond that. Easy-to-use, self-service BI software can be used to support an endless array of business decisions, large and small. We have customers who have recently used QlikView to improve customer service, optimize product mixes . . . even to optimize commercial fishing locations and sales points, and catch a serial killer. And we’ve only just begun. It makes me happy to know that 70% of potential users of BI tools still have ahead of them the delightful “a-ha” moment that comes with making their own business discoveries.  It’s a green field ahead!

A couple days ago, we were talking about Siri at lunch. Siri is the intelligent personal assistant that is available on iPhone 4S. It helps you get things done just by asking by using your voice to send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls, look up information, and more. After that lunch conversation, I started to think how nice it would be to have a personal assistant in QlikView, one that would allow me to use my voice to do Business Discovery. I’d like it to talk back to me and guide me through the data to reveal the informationI need for decision making.

Then I started thinking that QlikView already has all of the pieces needed to get this working. It has extension objects capabilities, which can run custom code from QlikView to get the voice commands working. It also has text box capabilities to automatically generate the voice script with the data for the assistant’s audio. I thought about using free text to speech software to convert the text to audio.

So I did a little research on HTML5 and sat down with QlikView. Within about two days, I built a prototype. I got so excited about it that I gave my personal assistant a name: “Q.” Check out this video. I posted the QlikView application and technical information about creating the speech input and audio extension objects with HTML5 on QlikCommunity.


“Q” is a great example of QlikView’s extensible platform. QlikView provides developers with a comprehensive and integrated set of tools that help them expand the possibilities of a Business Discovery application. If developers are interested in adding speech input capabilities to a QlikView application, they can easily create an extension object by using QlikView Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and other technologies such as HTML5. Once the extension object is created, it can be used in other QlikView applications, just like any other QlikView object. If you are interested in learning more about QlikView’s extensibility, please visit the QlikView SoftwareDevelopment Kit (SDK) page on QlikCommunity’s Integrations and Extensions Community. The community provides documentations on QlikView SDK and APIs with sample codes.

By the way, if you are wondering what else “Q” can do, I am leaving that to your imagination. With QlikView APIs, it would be very easy to put the pieces together!

  “Cloud” and ”SaaS” (software as a service) are two terms often bundled together and used to describe the same thing. The way we at QlikTech use the term 'cloud' is to refer to the use of off-premise, often distributed, computing environments for the purpose of running applications and managing, storing, and analyzing data. We use the term 'SaaS' to refer to a specific distribution and implementation model for applications running in the cloud (software running on multi-tenant servers in the cloud and vendors charging customers a subscription fee to use the software).


QlikView and The Cloud:

QlikView can be deployed on premise or in the cloud. In fact, QlikTech’s own demo site ( runs on servers in the Amazon EC2 cloud. Customers that want to put QlikView on servers in the cloud purchase licenses from QlikTech just as they would if they were deploying the software on premise. This is an attractive solution for customers that:


  • Do not want the upfront capital costs of acquiring server hardware
  • Need a flexible environment that can easily scale as their deployment needs scale.



What’s important to note is that in cloud-based environments the data resides in the cloud. This somewhat obvious point is an important one, particularly with respect to business intelligence solutions: The “raw materials” for any successful BI deployment are the data that underlie the deployment. The location of this data will often determine whether a BI solution is brought in house or deployed in the cloud.  If data is on premises and your analytics are in the cloud, then potentially large data sets must be uploaded to the cloud for analysis. If your data is in the cloud, then it still needs to be transferred to your analytic environment. Of course, both of these scenarios are dependent on great bandwidth.


On the other hand, if your data already lives in the cloud, in the same environment as your analytic applications then it makes sense to use cloud analytics.

Through connectors to cloud-based offerings such as, QlikView can be used to access and analyze data resident in the cloud while maintaining the strict security requirements needed. Therefore, there are no obstacles to QlikView working within a cloud environment: the degree to which it does is determined by how customers choose to deploy QlikView.


QlikView and SaaS:

Current trends in the BI platforms market indicate that BI SaaS offerings are not gaining the type of traction that other cloud-based solutions (such as CRM, for example) are gaining. According to Forrester Research, cloud BI will continue to chip away at on-premises BI, but it’s still a long road ahead. Heavy customization and integration of enterprise BI platforms, tools, and applications done by subject-matter experts and consultants will not go away. Another major reason for this is that most organizations continue to maintain their core operations data on premises. 


Currently, QlikTech has many OEM partners that are using QlikView to deliver SaaS-based BI offerings to their customers. For these partners, their customer base and business model lends itself to providing solutions via a SaaS model. For example, one partner provides a SaaS-based call center transaction solution to their customers. For an additional fee, their customers can avail of an ‘analytics module’ (built with QlikView) where they can analyze and discover insights in their call center data, to help them with resource allocation, RMA trends and so on.


At present, QlikTech does not offer QlikView via a SaaS model. (This would involve QlikView running on multi-tenant servers in the cloud and QlikTech charging customers a subscription fee to use the software). This is due to limited customer demand for such an offering. As the prevalence of cloud-based data increases, so may the demand for SaaS-based BI increase.


We continue to closely watch the growing trends in both Cloud and SaaS environments, and where appropriate to our customers' needs, will continue to provide innovative solutions to meet their Business Discovery requirements.


Filter Blog

By date:
By tag: