A week ago, I flew to America to attend Qonnections, Qlik’s annual data analytics event, and discovered exactly how Qlik are planning to change data analytics as we think of it today.

With a new CEO, Mike Capone, now at the helm of Qlik it was clear there has been a change in direction. This year was the first that I’ve been to that has both partners and customers in attendance, and there was an impressive 3000+ guests in total. I felt this gave the event a strong sense of community and a great atmosphere.

This year, for me, had a different flavour of exhibitors sat alongside Qlik at the conference. Two vendors, TimeXtender and Alteryx, were very prevalent because of the event’s focus on self-service and data literacy (more on this later). Both vendors had a huge amount of interest, which is great because Perfect Image partner with them both too!

Let me take you through my favourite five biggest announcements from Qonnections, and what they mean for customers and pretty much anyone using data analytics. Qlik is marking itself as different – it isn’t just another visualisation tool.

1. Augmented intelligence – making data literacy easy

If I put some data into Qlik it’s already clever enough to create a chart, but now it analyses the data you’ve got and applies an AI-equivalent logic. Then it can recommend the best visualisation and how best to present the data journey. However, users might not know how to analyse and query visualisations and data, and this is what they refer to as “data literacy”.

That’s their message: you don’t have to be a data analyst to use Qlik. They’re implementing new features within Qlik to drive data literacy. They’ve removed some of the learning needed by making the product think for you. It’s a lot easier and more intuitive for you to come to the right answers and do the right analysis. That is far above what Tableau and Power BI are doing – they’re nowhere near augmented intelligence.

2. Big Data Index

Qlik has also changed how they approach the market, they’re now focusing more on the Enterprise space. Where other visualisation tools struggle is with data coming from multiple sources and dealing with extremely large datasets. On Tableau and Power BI you’re reliant on other third-party technology.

Now with Big Data Index, they’ve got an associative engine that will query and take data straight into an application or visualisation. A key benefit for customers who need access to big data sets from sources such as Hadoop and data lakes is that data does not need to be loaded into memory. If you have hundreds of billions of rows of data, you don’t need a ridiculous machine with enough processing and memory power to do it. It accelerates how quickly you can query these datasets which is a massive tick in the box for a lot of enterprise clients.

3. Qlik Core

This is the big one for developers, who are going to love delivering embedded or custom analytics onto a new platform – for example into an IoT environment. Historically, you had to take all of the telemetry data, put it into a data warehouse or database then consume it using Qlik but it’s so much more efficient now. You’re able to put Qlik onto a device to collect telemetry data, it works its associative engine on it, and then it does some segmentation of the data on the device and sends it directly to the dashboard. They’ve really condensed and taken the power of the engine. What you’ve got now is something containerised, it’s there, but on such a small device.

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4. Multi-cloud

In today’s modern world of cloud technologies, rarely does our data reside in one place, but you’re often dictated by the vendor as to where it can be accessed from. Qlik has realised this in its new multi-cloud offering, so now you can store and run data from any source, whether that’s private cloud, public cloud, or on-premise, or a mix. They’ve given us a completely flexible environment to access and process your data from wherever you like. It might not sound like a big deal but often these are massive barriers because data is in disparate servers which is a challenge. Now, hybrid options are available which is a huge step forwards into the cloud-focused era we’re now in.

5. Managed Services

The launch of the Managed Service Provider (MSP) is revolutionary, as it’s the first of its kind in the data analytics space. Now we’ve got all these new features, we can do even more as a managed service partner. We can develop apps for customers geared towards a particular industry or function depending on what they need. We can create it, put it in public cloud, and wrap services around it to support and continually develop it, and we’ll charge you so much per user, per month. This makes it a much more cost-effective option for most organisations out there, and it by moving from a CapEx to an OpEx model.

Final thoughts

The foundation for these changes started to appear in February and April’s release with Qlik supporting over 30 cloud and on-premise sources (such as Google Big Query and PostGreSQL), and mobile management enhancements with Geoanalytics mapping. With all this in place, I’m eagerly awaiting the June 2018 release of Qlik Sense Enterprise.

Qlik has certainly been busy investing in its product portfolio, and that’s the reason we’re happy to continue investing in what we recognise as the data analytics market leader. Qlik has spent a lot of time looking at BI trends, at where people’s demands are coming from, rather than what technologies they are using. What are people seeking? Where is this changing in terms of behaviours? What BI trends are we starting to see in people’s use of products? It’s clear that customers need much more than just another visualisation tool.

With events like Qonnections, we’ve got a much better view of where Qlik and the market is going, and where the value is that we can offer our customers. The competition needs to do something serious (and soon) otherwise they risk getting left behind…

Andrew Smith – Sales Director at Perfect Image

Andrew began working at Perfect Image in 2008 as Head of Sales, where he gained significant experience and a deep understanding of Business Intelligence solutions, the Microsoft suite of products, and cloud technologies. He has since moved up the ranks to Sales Director in 2014 and manages the business development and marketing teams. Overseeing sales processes from start to finish, he has a focus on building strong, lasting relationships with clients and delivering strategies and solutions that really deliver value.

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