At the 2015 technology analyst summit in Austin, Texas, analytics and business intelligence software vendor Qlik discussed recent market and product developments and explained its roadmap and strategy for 2016. Discussion topics included its Qlik Analytics Platform and QlikView 12.0, Qlik Sense and Qlik DataMarket, applications built on the platform but also how it is expanding its analytics experience for business.
The engine of Qlik Analytics Platform is Qlik Indexing Engine (QIX) provides sophisticated correlation analysis, or what the company calls an “associative experience.” Qlik uses a simple but powerful visual approach to help users understand and explore data. For instance, values in a data set can be highlighted in green, directly linked values are white, excluded but still related values are light gray, and completely unrelated values are dark gray. The key differentiator from other tools in the market is in the light gray areas, which lead users to natural next steps in investigation of the data or what we call guided analytics. Put another way, this associative experience enables users to explore all of the data relationships and avoid confirmation bias, which results from having a predefined idea of how data should be related. Most other visual discovery tools are still beholden to confirmation bias since the data model is based on a specific hypothesis of data relationships put forward by a developer or business user. Neither visual exploration nor human intellect alone can discover all patterns, especially the most complex ones. To make sense of large data sets, however, data mining and statistical techniques such as correlation can find patterns, relationships and anomalies in the data. The associative experience helped contribute to Qlik earning a Hot Vendor rating in our 2015 Analytics and Business Intelligence Value Index.
Qlik Sense is the company’s flagship visual analytics software that combines the associative functionality with easy-to-manage, high-performing and scalable approach. Its aim is to give business users a simplified visual analytic experience that takes advantage of modern technologies that can operate in cloud computing environment. The Qlik Sense architecture allows a choice to do visual design on the server or on the client and provides users with streamlined management capabilities and an intuitive user experience. Other ease-of-use functions include probabilistic search capabilities and automatic linking of objects within newly created dashboards. The user experience in both design and in consumption is important; our benchmark research on analytics software in the last four years consistently finds that usability is the most important product evaluation criterion for companies. But the importance of manageability and reliability is critical to which is why organizations should broaden its evaluation to not just be about the features of the product.
Qlik Sense, at time of this analysis is version 2.1, is complemented by announcements Qlik made over the last year. They include Qlik Sense Cloud, which provides cloud hosting services for Qlik Sense, and Qlik DataMarket, which offers enriched analytic data sets that are integrated and ready for consumption by analytic users. This service, often called data as a service (DaaS), provides information to be used in both descriptive and predictive analytic scenarios. My colleague Robert Kugel has written about this in what is called Cryptic Data and where Qlik is removing the hassle of integrating relevant external data into analytics. Using a cloud-based architecture, Qlik is able to easily bring together data from external sources, which according to our data and analytics in the cloud benchmark research include cloud-based business applications (61%), social media (49%), Internet information (48%), government sources (33%), market sources (29%) and data brokers (27%). Preintegration of data sets is an emerging trend that helps address the most formidable challenge in cloud computing, which is data preparation (cited by 55% of organizations).
Qlik was a pioneer in the visual discovery market with QlikView. More recently, it took time to rearchitect Qlik Sense to take advantage of technological advances such as cloud computing. That move temporarily disrupted the company’s momentum in the market but has rapidly accelerated forward and is approaching to be a billion dollar provider of analytics software. Now Qlik appears to have gotten much of its momentum back in company revenue growth but in the adoption and deployment of Qlik Sense.
Qlik’s partner strategy continues to advance where they have been embedded in a significant number of applications across industries. Having a modern architecture, the company can take several directions, such as entry into various platform-as-a-service (PaaS) ecosystems and be part of those environments. The Qlik Branch tool provides resources for embedding Qlik Sense directly into applications, enabling developers to build extensions using modern RESTful approaches. The site provides developer tools, community efforts such as d3.js integration and synchronization with Github for sharing and branching of designs. This provides an advantage to Qlik as these community assets can be used by innovative enterprises and independent software vendors (ISVs). Furthermore, Qlik can use these development efforts to decide where to invest its own resources in product development and support. The ability to also combine DaaS into its efforts reinforces the company’s competitive position and unique differentiation with these innovative efforts for enterprises and application assemblers and developers including ISVs.
Organizations considering self-service visual analytics software should put Qlik on their shortlist. For companies that already use QlikView, recently released version 12.0 is a logical path especially if they are exploring accompanying deployment of Qlik Sense. With the release of QlikView 12.0, both Qlik Sense and QlikView will utilize a common QIX engine to provide the associative experience. For first-time implementations of Qlik, Qlik Sense will likely be the best option except in some industry-specific cases in which QlikView offers sophisticated tailored solutions. Qlik Sense Cloud provides sharing of Qlik applications in a hosted and managed environment. While the company has made improvements in developing its capabilities and partner ecosystem for Qlik Sense, these should be closely examined in conjunction with the specific business objectives in mind. For developers, Qlik Sense provides a fully featured cloud platform on which to build and well-documented APIs to create extensions and customize the product. Partners, content providers and ISVs should consider the Qlik platform and Qlik Branch for embedding resources directly into applications. Every class of user can download Qlik Sense for free and test it directly on the desktop.
Overall, we find that Qlik Sense’s flexible approach can support various technology directions for analytics and is a strong choice especially for analysts and also application-oriented approaches that are needed. Qlik has focused on the broader analytic experience and what is required to streamline analysis but also to ensure that it is comprehensive and easily shared with others in the enterprise. If you have not looked at Qlik lately, now is the time to try it out.
CEO and chief research officer