QlikTech Boosts Collaboration with New BI Release
October 11, 2011 Alex Woodie
Multiple users in different locations will be able to interact with the same business intelligence (BI) dashboard screen using new software unveiled today by QlikTech. The new capability–along with a new threaded comments function–is aimed at improving the way that people collaborate and make decisions. Other new features in QlikView 11, which becomes available later this quarter, include better comparative analytics and broadened support for mobile phones and tablets.
Even in the most button-downed corporate settings, decision making tends to be a very social process. Groups of people get together to throw around some ideas, feedback is given and taken, and after several rounds, a consensus view (hopefully) emerges. But this very human-oriented process often doesn’t mesh well with the computerized decision support systems that managers rely upon to serve the facts of their business.
“When you think about how a decision gets made, you don’t just sit by yourself in front of a laptop and decide things,” says QlikTech product marketing manager Erica Driver. “You talk to people that have other questions, experiences, and expertise. Other people are really important sources of insight.”
Web conferencing software such as WebEx can be absolutely instrumental in connecting groups of people. And while BI systems can definitely be shared using Web conferencing software, the knock on this approach is that one person typically drives the conversation.
That’s what makes the new collaboration capability in QlikView 11 potentially so compelling. The new feature allows groups of people to click around the screen of a single QlikView BI session from a Web browser. Instead of one person changing filters, sorting columns, and generally exploring the data looking for trends, anybody with a Web browser can get the full QlikView experience, and share their insights with the rest of the group. No additional licenses are required by participants.
“What we’re doing here is expanding the possibilities so that the interactive experience of QlikView becomes interactive for multiple people,” Driver says. “We’re helping people to make decisions based on these multiple sources of insight.”
The new collaboration function will probably work best during conference calls, so that the participants can explain to others what they’re doing on the screen. Driver says QlikView has used the new function with upwards of 20 people, but that may not be ideal. As the old saying goes, too many cooks spoil the meal.
The other new “social business discovery” feature added to QlikView 11 is a discussion thread capability. As groups of users explore the data, they can type their observations and opinions directly on the screen, and the discussion is recorded for posterity. “We’re able to have a conversation within the context of our analytics, and create a record of how decisions got made,” Driver says.
QlikView 11 also brings new comparative analytic capabilities. While it was possible for developers to create comparative views of two or more sets of data, it required a good deal of experience in QlikView and skill to pull it off, Driver says. The new release dramatically simplifies this task, and makes it easier for users to compare datasets and spot the patterns, outliers, exceptions, and anomalies that could indicate a business opportunity or a business problem.
QlikTech has been on the forefront of supporting mobile devices for some time. It released its first iPhone app in 2009, and has supported the QlikView client within the iOS and Android operating systems since last year’s release of QlikView 10.
With QlikView 11, the company is adding new support for Blackberry tablets. It’s also simplifying the screen layout of its smartphone clients. Instead of trying to display a full QlikView screen on the small smartphone display, QlikView 11 now offers a summarized view of data for the Android and iOS Web browsers, while still offering full interactivity with the data (i.e. the ability to “click” on data to drill down or re-sort).
QlikView is based on an in-memory associative database. While the software runs on Windows Server operating systems, QlikView customers often pull data out of their IBM i-based ERP systems. For more information, see www.qlikview.com.