- Its software design philosophy is ‘information at the point of decision’
- Transitioning into a multi-product visual analytics provider and platform player
DATA visualisation is certainly a great boon, but it only forms one component of the true potential that can be unlocked from people being able to ‘move’ intuitively through data and environments.
“The whole idea of visualisation is quite cool, but what do you do with that? For example, if you go on holiday, how would you start looking for information and what device do you use?” said Phillip Beniac (pic above), regional vice president of Asia Pacific at Qlik Technologies, during a recent interview with Digital News Asia (DNA).
“When you Google for information, you will look at the results and move through what you see intuitively – it is this ability to move through environments and situations with data, and then share that information and collaborate,” he added.
Beniac said that when you make a decision, it’s typically not by yourself but with others, so the ability to collaborate and share information in a seamless manner is the basis of decision-making.
“Information at the point of decision – that’s the philosophy of our software design. Intuitive capability to make sense of data and share it.
“In terms of forms of Business Intelligence (BI), we believe that’s where it’s headed – data being accessed by people everywhere, any place on any device,” he said.
Qlik believes that enterprises can be more efficient if they enable employees to effectively access data and leverage insights into areas such a customer behaviour and preferences.
The Pennsylvania-headquartered business intelligence and visualisation software company has been positioning itself as the platform provider that can bring about such change.
One more selling point it pushes to enterprise customers is its focus on data governance. Beniac said governance is very importance as it helps determine where the data is coming from, and where it is being used. Then there’s application governance as well – who is using it and how it can be used.
“Self-service visualisation is but one component in a very broad platform of use cases, and what’s interesting is that one user can move through all these usage scenarios and not be the case of one system or one device – so BI centres on access in an efficient manner.
“Visualisation is easy to do, therefore many just go out and build it – which is good for an individual doing a project, but the moment you start adding more data and more people to it, that’s when it gets complicated and can become misinformation instead of good information.
“We advocate for the governance capability to be there and understood by users, not to stop them from creating, working and collaborating, but to give the organisation the capability to manage all that data,” he added.
Qlik recently partnered with Singapore-based online retailer Inverted Edge, as well as with design and development agency Deloitte Digital, to launch what it said was the city-state’s first “in-store digital shopping experience.”
Built on Qlik Sense (pic above) and HTML5 mashups, Inverted Edge’s in-store digital solution tapped visualisation and storytelling features as well as simple, web standard APIs (application programming interfaces) to deliver an interactive and personalised digital experience for customers.
The framework allows Inverted Edge to easily manage and study purchasing data to identify key factors that drive customers’ purchase decisions – enabling the company to discover what its customers are looking out for, and to thus tailor its services.
According to research firm IDC, the worldwide business analytics market generated US$37.7 billion in sales in 2013, and is expected to grow to around US$59.2 billion in 2018.
MarketsandMarkets forecasts the global BI Platform Market to grow from US$8.9 billion in 2014 to US$14.2 billion by 2019, at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 9.7%.
In June, Qlik launched its Qlik Analytics Platform, a developer platform aimed at software vendors and web developers wanting to harness components such as its analytic engine, or build their own data visualisations or mash-up websites.
“We believe that this is the way to build more insight,” said Beniac.
“We will not build everything. We believe that by giving it to millions of people out there, they will develop and be able to create all kinds of capabilities that we probably couldn’t even think of,” he added.
The Qlik Analytics Platform, alongside Qlik Sense Enterprise 2.0, updates to Qlik Sense Cloud and a new cloud based Data-as-a-Service offering called Qlik DataMarket.
This moves the company from its roots as a tools vendor into a multi-product visual analytics provider and platform player.
In a research report, Helena Schwenk, a principal analyst at MWD Advisors, noted that opening up the platform has been a significant undertaking for the company, requiring the R&D (research and development) organisation to re-think the architecture and structure of its code so that it can standardise its APIs and interfaces to the platform.
“The big prize is that the company’s core calculation engine, the Qlik Indexing Engine (QIX), is now available through direct API access.
“This means users are free to interactively explore obvious and non-obvious relationships within the data without having to resort to pre-determined questions or aggregations, as traditional online analytical processing approaches typically dictate,” Schwenk wrote in the report.
Qlik also hopes to take advantage of the growth of embedded analytics, which is the integration of analytic capabilities within business applications.
These capabilities can reside outside the application, reusing the analytic infrastructure built by many enterprises, but must be easily accessible from inside the application, without forcing users to switch between systems.
The integration of a BI platform with the application architecture will then enable users to choose where in the business process the analytics should be embedded.
The adoption of embedded analytics becomes especially compelling given the rise of connected devices, sensors and the Internet of Things (IoT), noted Beniac, and could translate to a variety of use cases – even knowing exactly why an air-conditioner isn’t working right and making the call to replace or repair.
“Right now, embedded analytics is either missing in the market or misunderstood. It’s about making things smarter and creating systems that enable users to incorporate data in a more effective manner.
“By putting this information at the fingertips of users, they can explore, understand, compare and look for outliers and all things … this is very much a part of where we believe analytics should be, and it’s moving very quickly that way,” he added.
For the first quarter of this year, Qlik reported that its total revenue was US$120.3 million, an increase of 8% from the US$111.1 million in the first quarter of 2014. In addition, total revenue from markets outside the Americas and Europe increased 43% over the prior year period.
Asked about the maturity of understanding and adoption rates in the region, Beniac said Asia is “actually not that far from where we’d like to be in terms of understanding what can be done,” especially for real-time analytics and access.
He noted that the general experience from customers when it comes to BI and analytics is that they either have tried something in the past, or already have something in place.
“Our role is to help customers navigate,” he said.
“We’re not trying to replace or displace their current systems but instead give them insights into what they have, how markets have evolved, and how people use software today.
“We’re seeing very dramatic adoption rates and part of it has to do with the fact that most have already done data warehousing … but are realising the need for users to have access to information right there and then.
“Speed is of the essence given today’s competitive landscape,” Beniac said.
In line with the expected uptake in demand for more robust BI solutions, Qlik is focused on its most immediate challenge: Its own growth.
“Growing any business is always hard, especially in the double-digit range. Enabling ourselves to grow the business is the real challenge as the business potential is our ability to execute,” Beniac said.
“We are getting there with our teams and investments in the region.
“We’re building out our infrastructure in the region, across all departments such as services, sales, customer support, as well as the education components – our growth can only be sustained with all this in place to support it,” he added.
Qlik is also looking to expand its team as well. It has about 250 people in Asia currently and 2,500 globally.
“We are hiring at double the rate versus the rest of the world. The accelerated hiring programme we put in place is still in effect and will continue for the coming months,” said Beniac.
The company is also investing heavily into its channels ecosystem in Asia Pacific, beefing up ways it enables and brings forward partners ranging from large systems integrators to smaller niche players, and even larger enterprises that it will work closely with to help accelerate embedded analytics within their systems.
Qlik currently has 1,700 partners worldwide, with those from Asia Pacific accounting for a “good portion” of that figure, according to Beniac.
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