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Qlik analytics platform keeps focus on active intelligence

With new data catalog capabilities and enhanced SAP connectors, Qlik continues its focus on the concept of active intelligence to enable users to more easily gain insights.

With the concept of active intelligence as its credo, Qlik recently introduced a new SaaS data catalog and improved SAP data integrations to its analytics platform.

Its roadmap, meanwhile, includes more data integration and augmented analytics capabilities.

Qlik, an analytics vendor founded in 1993 and based in King of Prussia, Pa., defines active intelligence as the ability to deliver insights quickly and embed them wherever users need them throughout their workflows.

"The key thing is that active intelligence isn't a thing you buy, but a state of your business," said Josh Good, vice president, product marketing, data analytics, at Qlik. "We enable it through the technologies we provide and through the experience we can offer, but the customer needs to bring [a willingness] to the table as well."

In particular, Qlik enables active intelligence by helping customers to free and access their data, understand their data and finally act based on their data.

New additions

The SaaS data catalog -- which helps users free and access their data -- is designed to enable Qlik customers easily profile and classify their data so customers can understand which data sets are best for which scenario, and so those data sets can subsequently be accessed quickly when needed and used to make data-driven decisions.

Similarly, to better enable customers who use SAP's wide array of products, Qlik has enhanced data integration tools that can automatically capture SAP data in near real time and integrate it into the Qlik analytics environment.

A sample Qlik dashboard displays an organization's sales data.
An organization's sales data is displayed in a grid chart from Qlik.

Both capabilities are now generally available to Qlik's SaaS customers, which are the first to receive new features now that the vendor has switched from a quarterly release cycle to a continuous release cycle.

Before 2021, Qlik held back on releasing new capabilities to package them for release on a quarterly basis so that client-managed -- or on-premises -- customers could take advantage of them at the same time as SaaS customers. Now, however, with cloud growth a major emphasis for Qlik, the vendor is rolling out new features to its SaaS customers as soon as they're ready and then later packaging them together in a quarterly update for its client-managed customers.

Active intelligence isn't a thing you buy, but a state of your business. We enable it through the technologies we provide and through the experience we can offer, but the customer needs to bring [a willingness] to the table as well.
Josh GoodDirector of product marketing, Qlik

"As our customer base has become more SaaS-oriented, we decided to turn things over and prioritize that," Good said. "One of the benefits is that internally there's not this big release date that we have to hit. As soon as stuff is ready, we roll it out. There's still that pressure to get stuff done, but we can now spend an extra week if necessary to be sure the quality is there."

Qlik's prioritization of SaaS is appropriate, according to Doug Henschen, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

"Many vendors have moved to a continuous release cycle as they've switched to a cloud-first approach," he said. "It's a sensible move that's in sync with a market trend that has only accelerated over the last year. The only complication is deciding on what to package up and include in releases for companies still deploying and managing software rather than using Qlik's services."

Regarding the additions of the data catalog and SAP integrations, Henschen added that each are important.

"These aren't surprising moves, but I wouldn't diminish their significance," he said.

Henschen noted that Qlik first added data cataloging capabilities when it acquired Podium Data in 2018, but its new data catalog infuses those capabilities directly into Qlik Sense while still offering standalone data catalog and metadata management capabilities.

"It's a combination that complements self-service BI and analytics by helping users to see the data and other assets that are already available and how they're being used before they go to the trouble of building yet another report or dashboard," he said. "Catalogs promote reuse and reduce sprawl, overlaps and redundancy."

The SAP integrations, meanwhile, enable Qlik's many users that also use SAP applications -- many of which are large enterprises, making them attractive customers, according to Henschen -- to easily collect and manage their SAP-generated data.

Beyond the data catalog and enhanced integrations with SAP, recent additions to the Qlik analytics platform include new visualizations and enhanced conversational analytics capabilities.

The road ahead

Future feature updates and additions, meanwhile, will focus on Qlik's five strategic priorities. They include:

  • delivering a full SaaS experience, which includes incorporating data integration capabilities while enhancing existing analytics capabilities;
  • automating data pipelines so users can easily get the data they need;
  • improving augmented analytics capabilities, including natural language processing and suggestions;
  • driving the transformation from rear-facing BI to active intelligence by combining real-time data with augmented intelligence and machine learning; and
  • responding to customer feedback to deliver capabilities customers want in order to make analytics available to more potential users.

“There's not a big-bang feature that's in the roadmap we're revealing right now – stay tuned," Good said. "And generally, everything is going to get incrementally better and enhanced.”

Qlik's focus on active intelligence, meanwhile, is one Henschen said has Qlik headed in the right direction.

“Embedded analytics has the potential to enable more employees within organizations to use analytics by using AI and machine learning to embed not only data but also insights throughout their workflows," he said.

Embedded analytics has the potential to enable more employees within organizations to use analytics by removing data from reports and dashboards that need to be interpreted by data scientists and data analysts and using AI and machine learning to embed not only data but also insights throughout their workflows.

In addition, embedded analytics saves time by eliminating the need to toggle between a user's BI environment -- the dashboard or report -- and the applications where they actually do their work.

"Qlik has been early to recognize the need to move beyond reports and dashboards, and that's what its active intelligence drive is all about," Henschen said.

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