QlikTech Updates BI Product
October 19, 2010 Alex Woodie
QlikTech last week unveiled QlikView 10, a new release of its successful BI software used by thousands of mid-sized companies, including a good number of IBM i shops. With version 10, the company made enhancements across the board, including a new associative search feature that a product manger describes as “slightly magical,” a better and faster user experience, and a new way to connect with data sources.
The new Associative Search feature in QlikView 10 will help users connect the dots when searching for information they can’t quite nail down, says QlikTech senior vice president of product management Anthony Deighton.
The feature, which performs a search across every field in QlikView’s in-memory associative database, is very useful when users can’t remember the exact name or term for something they want to explore, “but they know things about the thing they’re thinking about,” Deighton says.
For example, if a reporter could not remember the name of QlikTech’s esteemed executive, but he knew he was male, that he worked at QlikTech, and that he had the title of senior VP, the reporter could enter this information into the QlikView search box, and the software would triangulate it back to Deighton.
“QlikView figures out these are attributes, and comes back with possible matches,” Deighton says. “In many cases in BI problems, you don’t know what you’re looking for. You just know enough to be dangerous.”
Plug in customer names, products, geographic regions, years, and the other types of data that companies often use to describe and track their activities in BI tools, and you get an idea of what Associative Search can provide.
In many cases, the new feature works just like Google (you may have heard the name), including the results that pop up in QlikView as you type your search, a feature much like Google’s new “instant search” feature. However, whereas Google scans the entire Web for words and connections, QlikTech’s new search function covers just a company’s data. “It works the way you would expect it,” Deighton says. “It’s intuitive and slightly magical.”
A change in the way QlikView renders screens via AJAX should make the software experience more pleasurable for users. In previous releases, when a user requested multiple pieces of data or graphs, the software would wait for all the requests to be fulfilled before allowing the user to continue.
With version 10, customers can continue clicking before the final graph or piece of data has been loaded into the screen. This piece of asynchronicity, while not really making the product run faster, will make the product seem to run faster to users, according to Deighton. Perception is important, and a frustrated user may not want to continue using the product. “QlikView is interactive. If a user waits more than a few seconds, they don’t click anymore,” Deighton says.
On a related note, an enhancement to QlikView’s support for multi-core processors will make a substantial impact on the time it takes to reload data in the QlikView database. The company estimates data reloads using multi-core processors will execute two to 10 times faster than before. The extra speed comes from changes QlikTech made with parallelizing work across multi-core processors.
Another major enhancement with version 10 is the new QlikView Data Exchange (QVX) data format. While most customers will use an ODBC connection to tap into their existing data stores, the XML-based QVX format will be useful in cases where a customer or a partner cannot, or does not want to, open an ODBC connection. QVX supports data down to the record-level, which is important for sizing considerations.
Also, QlikView 10 introduces new extensions that allow customers to create their own graphics. For example, say a retailer wanted to generate a chart that shows sales figures against a graphic of a shelf of goods. A shelf of goods is not in the standard QlikView graphic library, but the new openness in QlikView 10 makes it easier for customers and business partners to customize the BI experience.
The final major area of improvement is management related. Version 10 brings new user management capabilities, new end-user usage logging, as well as the capacity to remotely manage QlikView routines, such as server scheduling or adding new users.
It’s been a sizzling summer for the American company with the hottest IPO of the year. Since it went public in July, the company has added more than 1,000 new customers, and now has more than 15,000 customers around the world. A decent percentage of these companies are IBM i shops, many of which run the JD Edwards and M3/Movex ERP applications from Oracle and Lawson Software, respectively.
For more info on QlikView 10, see the company’s website at www.qliktech.com.