Qlik helped pioneer the visual discovery market with its QlikView product. In some respects, Qlik and its competitors also spawned the self-service trend rippling through the analytics market today. Their aim was to enable business users to perform analytics for themselves rather than building a product with the perfect set of features for IT. After establishing success with end users the company began to address more of the concerns of IT, eventually creating a robust enterprise-grade analytics platform. This approach has worked for Qlik, driving growth that led to an initialVR_AnalyticsandBI_VI_HotVendor_2015 public offering in 2010. The company now generates more than half a billion dollars in revenue annually, making it one of the largest independent analytics vendors. Of which based on their company and products was rated a Hot Vendor in our 2015 Value Index on Analytics and Business Intelligence and one of the highest ranked in usability.

However, as Qlik was experiencing that dramatic growth, the analytics market was changing from a Windows-based, desktop platform to a mobile, cloud-based one. As a result of these market shifts, a couple years ago the company introduced the Qlik Sense product line to offer a modern, cloud-based platform for its analytics. Thus the company embraced a two-product strategy consisting of QlikView and Qlik Sense, which my colleague Mark Smith wrote about earlier this year. When Qlik introduced this split in product lines, some customers had questions about whether it would continue to invest in QlikView. Any questions I had about both parts of its product strategy were answered a few weeks ago at Qonnections, its annual user conference – both by company executives and in my conversations with customers.

Qlik has continued its support of and investment in the QlikView product line and will provide annual updates to the product, which is now on version 12. Customers who are happy with their QlikView implementations – and I spoke with several at the conference – can continue to use the product and can expect enhancements, albeit less frequently than updates for the Qlik Sense product line. However, since QlikView and Qlik Sense share the same QIX analytics engine, customers can begin to make the transition to Qlik Sense without giving up their QlikView applications.

The company also introduced Qlik Sense 3.0, which is now generally available. It includes new features for self-service data preparation, enhanced search capabilities and an expanded set of application programming interfaces (APIs). The new data preparation features follow an industry trend toward vr_DAC_23_time_spent_in_analyticsproviding more self-service capabilities for end users. Data preparation remains a challenge for many organizations. Our benchmark research on data and analytics in the cloud shows that this activity is where the majority (55%) of organizations spend the most amount of time in their analytics process. Qlik has done a nice job here. Its user interface is intuitive, using a “connected bubbles” metaphor. Data sets show up as bubbles and can be joined graphically to other data sets or bubbles. The software automatically detects the join field based on profiling of the data involved. Other products have used drag-and-drop techniques with an automatic suggestion of join fields, but Qlik has made the visuals more appealing and easier to work with. Date fields and geographic fields are also detected during the profiling process, automating more of the steps involved in working with these types of fields. The new version also includes a graphical interface for defining derived or calculated fields.

The search capabilities, historically a strength for Qlik, have been extended to include metadata and charts. Users can search for a particular measure such as profit by region and see thumbnails of the charts and graphs that reference this measure. Qlik refers to this feature as “visual search.” Seeing the thumbnails provides more context and should make it easier to find the appropriate measure or visualization quickly.

Qlik Sense 3 has bidirectional language support as well as more international versions. With this release the company has officially added support for Korean, Polish, traditional Chinese and Turkish in addition to 11 other languages already supported.

Outside of the Qlik Sense product improvements, the company also supports more connectors to additional data sources as a result of its acquisition of Industrial CodeBox announced at Qonnections. Users now have direct connectivity to Twitter, Facebook, Google, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Sugar CRM data. In addition to connectors, Qlik DataMarket provides access to a variety of free and subscription-based external data sources that can be used as part of an organization’s analytics. The new data sources include a financial services package with data from 35 major stock exchanges and indices including quote data and financial statement data from publicly traded companies.

The company also continues to invest in cloud-based analytics. Our research shows that two-thirds (67%)  of organizations use cloud-based analytics today or expect to within 12 months. Later this year Qlik will extend its cloud offerings to include Qlik Sense Cloud Business. Previously the company had introduced Qlik Sense Cloud Basic, a free version for individual usage, and Qlik Sense Cloud Plus, which allows sharing of analyses with up to five individuals. The Business version will provide departmental and small business support with sharing of analyses among selected groups or individuals within an organization.

On an entirely different front, in early June the company announced that it has agreed to be acquired by private equity firm Thoma Bravo. This is the latest in a spate of public technology companies being acquired by private equity firms. Tibco, Informatica and EMC are at various stages of going down a similar route. The transition to cloud-based products may be part of what is driving Qlik to go private. Cloud products are generally delivered on a subscription basis, which produces less revenue recognition up front, and it is difficult for a public company to meet the market’s revenue and profitability expectations as it transitions from large enterprise license deals with lots of upfront revenue.

Due to standard regulatory restrictions, the companies can’t say much about the acquisition and subsequent plans other than that the deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2016. These restrictions contrast with Qlik’s public disclosure of its product roadmap, which not many software companies do. It is helpful for customers to understand how the products might evolve over the next 18 to 24 months.

In terms of future developments, users could benefit from more investment by Qlik and its new owners in collaboration and mobile capabilities. A few years ago I noted that Qlik experimented with supporting collaboration capabilities like chat streams and sharing analytic displays, but these features have fallen by the wayside. On the mobile front, Qlik is in the middle of transitioning from QlikView Mobile delivered as a native app on mobile devices to Qlik Sense mobile capabilities delivered via HTML5. As a result, there are some gaps, at least temporarily, between the two sets of products.

Overall, Qlik has continued to demonstrate an ability to design and deliver products that are visually appealing and excel in ease of use. Qlik Sense 3.0 includes additional capabilities that will help users understand and analyze their data in a pure browser-based product accessible from the cloud and mobile devices. If you haven’t considered Qlik in the past, perhaps the new release is a good reason to consider it now.

Regards,

David Menninger

SVP & Research Director

Follow Me on Twitter @dmenningerVR and Connect with me on LinkedIn.

Cloud-based computing has become widespread, particularly in line-of-business applications from vendors such as Salesforce and SuccessFactors. Our benchmark research also suggests a rise in the acceptance of cloud-based analytics.  We’ve seen the emergence and growth of cloud-only analytics vendors such as Domo and GoodData as well as cloud-based delivery by nearly all the on-premises analytics vendors. Almost half (48%) of organizations in vr_DAC_04_widespread_use_of_cloud_based_analyticsour benchmark research on data and analytics in the cloud are using cloud-based analytics today, and two-thirds said they expect to be using cloud-based analytics within 12 months. In fact, only 1 percent said they do not intend to use cloud-based analytics at some point. This popularity leads to the question of how to maximize the value of investments in cloud-based analytics. We assert that one of the most important best practices for cloud-based analytics is to empower business users with modern analytics tools they can work with without relying on IT.

Part of the premise of cloud computing in general is to reduce reliance on in-house IT. Line-of-business groups are drawn to the cloud because it enables them to concentrate on the business at hand. They don’t have to wait for IT to set up systems and often can purchase cloud-based services without a capital requisition process. Not only do users want this independence, but cloud-based systems benefit IT, too, by reducing the administrative burden – there’s no need to acquire, install and configure hardware and the associated software. They also help reduce ongoing maintenance since some of that is the responsibility of the cloud application provider.

Cloud-based analytics have benefits that go beyond reducing the administration burden. Organizations in our research most often ranked first or second improved communication and knowledge sharing (39%), improved efficiency in business processes (35%) and decreased time to market (24%). In the context of cloud-based applications of any type, these findings should not come as a surprise. These systems enable access to data from any device in any location. Ready access to information should improve communication, efficiency and consistency. Workers can review and share information as they are performing their jobs in the field, on the shop floor, in the warehouse or when meeting with customers. In addition, more than half (52%) of organizations reported improved data quality and data management as a benefit.

For these and other reasons users want to be self-sufficient. Usability is consistently the most important software evaluation criterion in our various benchmark research studies. vr_DAC_22_self-service_for_cloud--based_analyticsIn the data and analytics in the cloud research, usability was the highest-ranked of seven evaluation criterion: Almost two-thirds (63%) of participants said it is very important.

However, the research also finds that most users do not access their cloud-based analytics without the help of IT. Only 40 percent said they are able to analyze their data by themselves. Is this important? If we look at the results organizations are able to achieve, the answer is yes. Those that operate without IT are both more confident (77% vs. 44%) and more often satisfied (71% vs. 55%) in their ability to use cloud-based analytics than those that do not.

As our research shows, the advent of cloud-based analytics is here. Empowering business users makes it possible to improve business outcomes. The IT organization will be free to focus its attention on critical issues only it can address. Thus modern tools for cloud-based analytics can benefit both the lines of business and IT.

Regards,

David Menninger

SVP & Research Director

Follow Me on Twitter @dmenningerVR and Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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