2016: a Year in Review

2016 has been another year of great success for Ometis, and Ross Greig (managing director) has highlighted some of the year’s key moments.

Our new website

Released in February, our new-look website provides our customers with a wealth of information and resources to make sure they are up-to-date with all our technology and industry solutions.

We’re always adding new content. Have you taken a look recently?

Social, Blogs & Vlogs

Following on from our website launch, we have also been busy writing and recording lots of great content for all our followers across our various social media platforms.

Our blogs and vlogs have proved very popular, specifically our blog on the Gartner Magic Quadrant which was being read and shared by thousands of people across the globe.

Our regular #QlikTips are also particularly useful snippets to keep your Qlik knowledge relevant.

Want to join the conversation? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

qonnections

Qonnections 2016

In May, we took many of our team to Orlando, Florida for Qonnections, Qlik’s annual customer and partner conference. We discussed the Qlik Platform roadmap with our colleagues at Qlik.

As an early adopter of Qlik Sense, we were pleased to see some of the amazing new features and functionality being developed. In all my years working with different software vendors, I don’t think I’ve seen a year packed with so many great updates. The innovation is truly remarkable.

With 3 releases each calendar year, we’re always talking about the new features, so make sure you follow our social channels to keep up-to-date with all the latest information as it becomes available.

Marketing Events

Just to make sure we were spreading our word far and wide, we also embarked upon a series of events to showcase the Qlik Platform and inform people about how Qlik and Ometis can help businesses to become more data-driven.

Some of our 2016 events included:

  • WealthTech, London
  • Food IT Summit, Birmingham
  • Qlik Sense Tour, Manchester
  • Wealth Management Round-table, London
  • IP Expo, London

It was great to be able to talk to so many people about how the platform approach from Qlik can really help to address analytics and reporting challenges across all departments and user cases. Whether you need pre-built dashboards, self-service analytics or you want to embed analytics inside another applications or portals, the Qlik Platform can do it all for you!

narrative-science

Narratives for Qlik

Part of our responsibility to our customers is to keep abreast of any interesting 3rd party products that can help add another dimension to their analytics. During our trip to Qonnections, we were pleased to meet with the team from Narrative Science.

Narrative Science is a US company focussed on processing data in order to return a natural language interpretation that is easily understood by the reader.

In 2016 they released their Narratives for Qlik® product that can be embedded in your Qlik Sense dashboards to give a responsive, easy-to-read analysis of your data. We describe it as like having an amazing Business Analyst working alongside you.

In July, we became the first non-US partner of Narratives for Qlik® and have enjoyed showcasing its unique offering to our prospects and customers at events and via our webinar schedule.

This is the first step towards Artificial Intelligence (AI) becoming a core part of data analytics. Expect more on this topic in 2017!

New Support Offerings

We took some time in 2016 to evolve and improve the ways in which we provide ongoing customer support.

We recognise that many of our clients use in-house resources to develop Qlik dashboards, but they still want access to expert support when they hit a problem. Our Enhanced Support product now adds an increased level of support for both Ometis-developed applications, but also for Customer-developed dashboards too.

We also created a new Proactive Support solution that allows us to monitor your entire Qlik estate to help avoid any unwanted issues, downtime and complications. Many of our customers are already seeing the benefits of having our team of experts keeping a close eye on their Qlik solutions so they can spend their time making more-informed business decisions and not worrying about application performance, licence allocations and potential hardware bottlenecks. It’s a win-win!

We also now offer a new Qlik Healthcheck solution for companies who are already using Qlik, but who want to make sure everything is setup correctly and performing optimally. Our team will examine all aspects of your Qlik estate, document the results and provide a list of recommended changes or areas to improve. Our team can then be on-hand to walk you through making those improvements, if required.

Qlik Sense Training

Given the fast-paced release cadence for Qlik Sense, we invested in updating and restructuring our training materials so that we can quickly adapt and extend them with each release

Through our classroom training we can teach you how to build great-looking and performing dashboards, create reliable data models that follow best practices and install, configure and administer your Qlik Sense Server correctly.

Check out our training schedule to see how you could improve your Qlik skills. Want something more tailored to your requirements? No problem! We offer bespoke training/workshops to suit every requirement.

In summary

2016 was a fabulous year for all involved with Ometis, but that wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t have the best team of Qlik experts anywhere in the UK. A big thanks goes out to everyone who helped to make 2016 our best year yet!
I’ll shortly be writing about our plans for 2017, so keep your eyes peeled for that one. Exciting times are ahead, so watch this space…!

Ross Greig
Managing Director

NPrinting 17.2 Review – Three Steps Forward and One Step Back

For those who don’t already know, Qlik NPrinting is a content distribution tool for the Qlik Platform. It enables the distribution of static reports in various widely-used formats such as Word, PowerPoint and HTML.

A brief history

NPrinting 17 (NP17) is the result of the project code-named “Opera” – which was started before Qlik acquired Vizubi and finally came to fruition early in 2016. It’s fair to say the first two releases (17.0 and 17.1) weren’t quite ready for primetime, but 17.2 is a great step forward in reliability as well as functionality.

The NPrinting story so far…

  • 17.0 was the first release in the series – introducing web-based management of reports, schedules and related items. In version 16 and before this had all been done through a Windows application.
  • 17.1 introduced initial compatibility with Qlik Sense (QS). Previously it was a QlikView-only product and it became known as “Qlik NPrinting” not “QlikView NPrinting” at this point.
  • 17.2 was mostly a stability and performance release, but did also re-introduce the On-Demand functionality for QlikView (QV).

I’ve worked with NPrinting since 2012 (when it was Excel-only and being developed by Vizubi) and I have the honour of being the first ever certified NPrinting developer! I’ve been using 17.2 for the last couple of months and, combined with my experiences around earlier releases, here is my considered opinion.

nprinting-image-1
Alex being presented his NPrinting Developer Certificate by Vizubi’s Aran Nathanson,
now Qlik NPrinting Product Manager.

New architecture and delivery mechanisms

NPrinting 17 is a massive step forwards in terms of enterprise architecture – adding web-based management and report consumption, multi-user capabilities including permissions management. It keeps the familiar flexible structure of previous releases with Connections, Tasks, Reports, Filters and so on.

nprinting-1
The new NPrinting 17 web interface.

It adds two new distribution methods:

  1. NPrinting NewsStand – here users can see which reports they have access to and can subscribe to have them generated and/or sent to them on a schedule of their choosing.
  2. Qlik Sense Hub – you can push NPrinting reports into the Qlik Sense Hub so users have one place to go to consume all of their Qlik information. (Note: QlikView Publisher can do this now too – heading towards what Qlik are calling the “Unified Hub”.) The process for getting this up and running isn’t exactly slick, but once done, it’s a useful additional delivery mechanism.

nprinting-2
The Qlik Unified Hub – Qlik Sense, NPrinting & QlikView.

Additional compatibility

“Qlik Sense compatibility” is more true for this release than it was for 17.1 (where you’d often have reports fail if based on QS), but it still doesn’t come with all the functionality of the QlikView side of the tool.

The Select Objects dialog has improved with 17.2, now showing the IDs that you can (if no other way than via the dev hub single configurator) trace back to objects in the Qlik Sense app – which may be useful if you haven’t or can’t set a Name.

nprinting-3

One of the main limitations remains – that you don’t get to see previews of the Qlik Sense objects when you drop them into your template. Instead you just get a generic icon which can make designing your reports quite tricky.

nprinting-4

That said, when you do view a report, they look great. No issues with scaling here: since Qlik Sense has a fully responsive interface, the objects you embed flex as you resize them to fit your slide, document or web page…

nprinting-5
Example PowerPoint report with Qlik Sense objects embedded.

What’s missing?

As you can see from the three major releases this year, Qlik are actively developing NPrinting and I’m sure they have these ideas in mind, but here are some of the things I think should be on the roadmap:

  • Previewing of Qlik Sense objects in reports. As identified above, this is probably the most limiting factor right now.
  • Embedding reports into HTML emails. This was one of my favourite things in NPrinting 16 – embed the actual chart / KPI etc. in an email so the end user doesn’t even have to open an attachment! Unfortunately, whilst the help says this is possible, it’s not (yet).
  • Importing recipients from somewhere other than an Excel file. We have made extensive use of the ability to import from a QlikView object. There are workarounds to this but we’d love to see this re-introduced in NP17 for QV and QS.
  • Simplifying the process for adding reports to the Qlik Sense Hub and integration with the Qlik Sense QMC for user management and so on.

The conclusion

NPrinting has a special place in my heart and I have definitely skimmed over some of its amazing features that I’ve taken for granted over the last four years. So my advice is this:

  • If you’re a current NPrinting 16 user and you only have QlikView in your estate, then you might be better off sticking with NPrinting 16 for the time being. The main reason I can see to consider upgrading here would be if you need a multi-node environment to cope with the sheer volume of reports you distribute or to make use of the NewsStand feature.
  • If you’ve got a mixture of QlikView and Qlik Sense then I think that NP17 is worth a shot now it’s stabilised. Definitely check the features you need and trial it before making a decision on which version to use.
  • In a purely Qlik Sense environment, you’ve not got a choice – I’d just say be cautious about what you promise to deliver in tight timeframes as there is a learning curve as well as more improvements to come down the line. Again, trial it in your environment to see if it works for you.

For more information on NPrinting, please visit our product page where you can request a demo to find out how it can enhance your Qlik experience. We also have an NPrinting training session coming up on 23rd February 2017 – call us on 0330 363 9900.

Alex Walker
Service Delivery Manager

Migrating from QlikView to Qlik Sense: The Pros & Cons of Each Approach

Last month, I discussed the five key elements of migrating from QlikView to Qlik Sense, from server requirements through to user training. Now, I’d like to delve a little deeper into the different approaches you can take to migration, weighing up the pros & cons of each to help you find the best path for your business.

The chart below illustrates the timescales you can expect each approach to take.

migration

The Altruist

This is typically favoured by large organisations with many users and applications, or those who must verify that every single binary digit has been consistently accounted for over a pertinent amount of time. This means running both solutions in parallel is crucial, not just for testing/cross checking but for your business-as-usual operations as well.

Pros Cons
Thorough testing Increased maintenance costs: running two solutions over a long period
Gives users a large amount of time to accept change and be comfortable with the new system Duplicates effort for applications which exist on both solutions for the duration of parallel running
Plenty of time to train the entire user base, with the potential to train them in smaller groups Distributed user base for a long period of time
No need to rush the redevelopment process. You can choose to redevelop one app or department at a time If a single user relies on applications which are not on the same solution, for long periods, it can cause frustration and waste time

The Pragmatic

This approach caters for 80% of implementations I have come across myself. A time scale of 6 months to have Qlik Sense implemented, running in parallel and looking to turn off QlikView is not only realistic but practical. This approach defines a healthy balance between time, cost and scope – all you need is a good project manager!

Pros Cons
Strikes a healthy balance between migration time, cost and scope Duplicates effort for applications which exist on both solutions for the duration of parallel running
Business as usual operations are unaffected Less time for users to accept and be comfortable with the new tool than the previous approach
Users can verify numbers using the legacy system for a limited time Depending on resource capacity and scope, an additional resource may be required to help with the redevelopment of applications
Enough time for the users to accept and be comfortable with the new tool

The Opportunist

I see this as being perfect for small implementations of QlikView; those with less than 25 users or a dozen applications. Providing you have performed thorough testing and users are happy and comfortable with Qlik Sense, there really isn’t much sense in running two systems in parallel for a medium to long period of time just because you can.

Pros Cons
Little time spent supporting multiple tools May double the effort for applications which exist on both solutions for the duration of parallel running
Reduces the cost of running two systems in parallel Little time for users to accept and be comfortable with the new tool
You can focus mostly on the new system Less time to test/verify the system, which can subsequently impact user confidence levels with the new tool
Less time to redevelop work
Depending on resource capacity, an additional resource may be required to help with the redevelopment of applications
User training may need to be run in parallel with the implementation of the new system
Higher chance at impacting BAU operations

The Autocrat

As you may be able to tell from the colour used within the visualisation above, this approach comes with a warning – implement at your own risk! No system is perfect on day one, but if you are limited on budget and resource then you may be forced into this approach.  There are some benefits but the risk, in my opinion, far outweighs them.

Pros Cons
You can focus purely on one system Potential high learning curve for users, with no comfort of having the legacy system
No need to support multiple systems No time to test/verify data before ‘go live’
Reduced costs Very high probability of affecting BAU operations
Can recycle the same server/s that were being used for QlikView Users forced to learn on the job
Potential period of down time
Depending on resource capacity, an additional resource may be required to help with the redevelopment of applications

With all that said, it’s down to you to pick an approach to suit your leadership and your company. You may find, depending on the size of your organisation, that you adopt multiple approaches for different departments – catering for the different working environments and skill sets you come across.

The only remaining question is ‘when?’The answer is simple: it’s now! Or, I should say, once you have a plan in place. If you need any help or advice, please do get in touch.

Chris Lofthouse,
Qlik Consultant 

Migrating from QlikView to Qlik Sense: What To Consider

The number one topic for organisations still using QlikView should be the migration to Qlik Sense. In my opinion, guided analytics (QlikView) have become outdated. Self-service analytics (Qlik Sense) are what is relevant now: analytics that put data at the fingertips of the user. Gone are the days of waiting on the IT department to produce reports: rapid development, using intuitive user-friendly interfaces, is here.

Switching to a self-service analytics tool such as Qlik Sense removes the bottleneck from IT, empowers the user and, in turn, the business. Establishing greater insights by having the freedom to visualise data differently, whilst still in a governed environment, is now the reality. Why do it any other way?

In this blog I will focus on the five key elements for any migration plan, starting with the infrastructure:

Server

Like QlikView, Qlik Sense is an in-memory application, so you will need a dedicated server/s. The servers will likely need to be a similar specification to your existing QlikView solution. The absolute minimum specification will require a Windows server with a 1gb HHD, 8gb RAM and Multi-core x64 compatible processors. The full system requirements can be found here. Please note, this is not the universal recommended specification as it varies depending on the size of the user base, data volumes etc. Contact us to find out more.

Licences

Our team of Qlik experts can help you understand if and how you can transfer licences. It is important to note that there are differences between the QlikView and Qlik Sense licencing models. The Sense model comprises of two types of licence: user access passes and login access passes (access passes are commonly referred to as tokens). The former is intended for frequent users and the latter for infrequent users. (A frequent user is defined as someone who consumes 10+ hours per 28 day period.)

Redevelopment

Scripting in Qlik Sense is no different to QlikView, therefore all code is transferable. Having said that, it’s not just a copy & paste exercise: you will need to re-establish the data connections and replace the connection strings in the script with the new ‘lib’ statements. Alternatively, for a quick win, you could use a binary load.

The bulk of redevelopment comes in the front end where you will need to recreate the visualisations. You will be surprised how fast this is achieved, thanks to the simplicity of Qlik Sense and how quick it is to create dashboards with the improved drag & drop/ click & select capability. Having come from a QlikView background myself, initially I found the snap-to-grid system annoying. I soon realised, however, that it was a blessing in disguise! It was after redeveloping an application in Qlik Sense (which I’d previously built in QlikView), that I realised the change really was for the better.

Security

Security in Qlik Sense is a little different but also a lot more flexible. In Qlik Sense you have the Hub (this is Sense’s version of the QlikView Access Point.) This is also the highest level of security – is the user authorised to access your Sense solution and do they have a licence?

Within the Hub you will discover ‘streams’ which mimics selecting a ‘category’ in Qlik View (essentially a collection of applications.) You would typically create a stream for a particular group of users – a user should have access to one or more streams. You can also apply security on an app, field and row level. Section access is still available in Qlik Sense but it works somewhat differently.

User training

For users to accept change they need to be made at ease with it. How do we make a user comfortable with a new tool? We train them! At Ometis, we provide a range of training courses which can be tailored to suit anyone. This varies from an hour long introduction to analysing data in Qlik Sense through to a three day course designed to turn individuals into Qlik developers or system administrators. Our flexibility can match your needs and current skill set.

What’s Next?

Once you have a list of what needs to be done, we can move onto the how and when. Take a moment to think about how you would implement a migration plan. Do you ‘rip the band aid off’ and leave the office on Friday as a QlikView user to return Monday with Qlik Sense, or do you run the two tools in parallel and drip feed users onto Qlik Sense over a period of time? As long as the end result is the same – does it matter? I think it does. It’s not just changing from one BI tool to another, it’s doing so in a manner which is accepted by the majority of the stakeholders, seamless for business-as-usual operations and beneficial to all users.

In my next blog, I’ll be discussing four approaches to Qlik Sense migration and weighing up the pros and cons of each, so be sure to check back.

Chris Lofthouse,
Qlik Consultant

What’s all this about Artificial Intelligence in Data Analytics?

The introduction of Artificial Intelligence into business processes is upon us. This will ultimately make businesses more streamlined, efficient and profitable. If you’re not at least evaluating what AI can do for your business right now, then you’re falling behind the competition.

Before we go any further, let’s de-mystify the tech speak. ‘AI’ is Artificial Intelligence and ‘NLG’ stands for Natural Language Generation. In short, it’s technology that will evaluate your data and return a written report back to you.

We all like to make life easier where we can and one way we can do this is by automating things that are done on a regular basis. We set up direct debits on our monthly bills and rules on our emails to automatically file them or sometimes delete them, we set our heating to come on when it drops below a certain temperature. These small and incremental improvements make our home lives easier to manage and give us time to get on with other things.

Now take a second to think about how long you took to prepare for your last meeting; where you had to explain what was going on and present your findings from the data available to you. Wouldn’t it be great if you could automate that part of your business life too?

This is where Narratives for Qlik comes in. If you have already invested in Qlik Sense Enterprise, or are thinking about what data analytics systems will serve you right in the short, medium and long term, then you should certainly be looking at Narratives for Qlik. It can save you time, provide enhanced insights and present you and your end users with a written report in a language that is easy to understand.

NLG is just one of the use cases for Artificial Intelligence being introduced into a business. This is all to do with structuring well-formed sentences, taking into account grammatical structures and company terminology. This is done programmatically based upon the data that Narratives is presented with. As Narratives for Qlik seamlessly integrates with Qlik Sense Enterprise, it is logical that the written report it creates relates to a specific chart on a dashboard.

narratives-report-writing-1

When users make their selections through the intuitive Qlik Sense Interface, the data in a given chart is reduced, focussing in on just a subset of data that relates to the particular selection made. As this happens, Narratives for Qlik recalibrates all the sentences based upon the new data set that is provided.

This takes things a lot further than any business analyst could manage in a reasonable time frame. What you’ll get out of the box is a written report, created in seconds on any permutation you can think of on your data. Now that’s got to be worth considering…

The Benefits

Speed

Narratives for Qlik, set up on a good solid Qlik Sense Enterprise deployment, can create written reports in seconds. Not only that, it’s also a hundred different reports in one. Every filter on every field or every different combination could show up something different in the data.  Narratives for Qlik will present its written report on that selection as quick as you can make the selection. This gives people the time they need to action those insights rather than worry about writing a report on their findings.

Consistency

Although data can stay consistent, the analysis of that data can vary. A number of factors can permeate on a written report: from who is looking at it and their frame of mind on that day to various external factors. If your business is data-driven and reliant upon the correct analysis of the vast amount of data it has access to, then getting the incorrect interpretations could potentially cost your organisation thousands of pounds. Automated report writing narrows the margin of error that exists with human input.

Redistribution of resources

Allow the talent in your business to work on more complex tasks. Report writing is boring – it must be done for a business to understand what’s going on, but it’s often repetitive. To write a good report you need to find a subject matter expert, data scientist and solid writer all wrapped into one.  By automating this process, you release the talent in your organisation to start adding value in other areas.

Understanding your business

Having sat in a finance team in my former career, I’m reasonably comfortable looking at numbers, but if I had to provide information for other departments, I would often deliver the information in written form. Written reports are much easier to understand and things are often more nuanced than ‘profit is going up/down!’

Next Steps

If this has sparked your interest and you want to find out a little more about Narratives for Qlik or Qlik Sense Enterprise, then get in touch and we’ll arrange a demonstration for you. If you already have Qlik Sense, then we could show you exactly how this would work over your live data.

You can also join us for our introductory webinar at 3pm on Tuesday 29th November 2016 – where we’ll show you how Narratives for Qlik can be utilised to drive your business forward.

Andy Patrick,
Sales Manager

A very Ometis day out…

On the 24th September, the Ometis team headed to the beautiful Warwickshire countryside for our annual (be it slightly late) summer event. It was a day packed full of activities, fun and of course, a healthy dose of competition!

We arrived at Garlands Leisure Centre for an early start, where we were split into three teams of seven. Our captains were the totally noncompetitive Ross (Managing Director), Andy (Sales Manager) and Chris Lofthouse AKA Lofty (Qlik Consultant). Throughout the day we were set a number of challenges designed to develop our team building skills. We kicked things off with a morning of collecting clues for the “Whodunnit” mystery and tackling several mind boggling games.

ometis-day-out-go-karting

Next, we split into two groups: the ‘Karters,’ who took part in an off-road go-karting race and the ‘Shooters,’ who went off to enjoy some clay pigeon shooting. Naturally, the activities wouldn’t be complete without a little friendly rivalry and Chris steamed into first place in the go-karting for Team Andy (but not before James Thorne managed to break two of the three go karts!). Meanwhile, Victoria made it a double victory for Andy by bringing home the gold in the shooting.

ometis-day-out-podium

After working up an appetite, we tucked into a delicious BBQ lunch before settling down to analyse our clues and solve the Whodunnit. Then it was time for the big finale – the bridge building.

Competition was rife as the teams took to the river with just a few pieces of rope and wood standing in the way of the highly coveted first place. Andy and Lofty’s intense rivalry spurred us on with Team Lofty successfully building the sturdiest bridge in record time, with Andy’s team taking second place. Unfortunately, Team Ross didn’t even come close…

ometis-day-out-restaurant

After some heavy gloating from the winners, we headed to Birmingham to enjoy some well-earned cocktails and three-course meal at Marco Pierre White. We rounded off the night with a few drinks before heading back to Malmaison for a much-needed good night’s sleep.

Despite the excessive gloating from Team Lofty, it was a fantastic day out and everyone had a great time – thanks Ross!

Our Wealth Management Roundtable Event: A Summary

On the 20th October, we hosted our Wealth Management Roundtable event. Hosted in Qlik’s UK offices, on the 32nd floor of the impressive Tower 42 in London – it was a spectacular setting. Ruffer LLP’s Operational Risk & Control Manager, Stewart Lancaster, was our special guest speaker and the event was attended by representatives from various Wealth Management firms interested in understanding how organisations like Ruffer solve some of their most complex data challenges.

Becoming a data-driven organisation

Our Sales Manager Andy Patrick, started proceedings with a presentation on the challenges and opportunities faced by businesses in their quest to become more data-driven and effective in making decisions. Another key element Andy discussed was how companies can be more self-service orientated when they have access to the right tools, such as Qlik Sense.

We know that a key concern of our clients is the pressures they face in trying to balance the need for data security while also allowing their business the “freedom” to explore data in a meaningful way. This was another theme explored.

A Client’s Perspective

Next, Stewart took us through Ruffer’s journey of transformation over the last 18 months. Ruffer started out with a largely ineffective business intelligence system which had been developed in an old version of Qlik View (version 8). The company were struggling to achieve any valuable insights in the areas required: Key Performance Indicators, Key Risk Indicators and Key Control Indicators.

Stewart then went on to cover some of the challenges faced in implementing a new solution. Many of these centred on the cultural challenges experienced: the shift from an over-dependence on IT and Microsoft Excel does not occur overnight. Stewart finished by explaining the roadmap for the solution, such as expanding Qlik to include N-Printing, in order to get to the next phase of adoption.

Throughout, Stewart was highly enthusiastic and praised the level of engagement and support he has received from Ometis in helping transform the vision into a reality.

The discussion

Following Stewart’s insights, we moved onto our Q&A. Some fantastic questions were asked by our guests on a range of topics. Some centred around the uses and capabilities of Qlik in various business aspects including market risk management. Others focused on best practice and how to effectively tackle business challenges.

Following a lively and interesting discussion, we agreed the below approach:

  • Choose a use case that is small but high value
  • Deliver a proof of concept
  • Get buy in from stakeholders
  • Expand to other use cases

The session concluded with a great demonstration of Qlik Sense’s capabilities, delivered by Andy. This showcased all the capabilities of the solution and touched on many of its benefits as well as exploring some specific use cases such as the Wealth Management dashboard and some specific Ometis use cases showing the use of Qlik Sense in real world scenarios.

We had a fantastic day and want to say a huge thank you to our guests who we know got a lot out of the event. Also a thank you to Qlik for allowing us the use of their brilliant office space. We’re already looking forward to the next one!

You can find more information on how we can help support Wealth Management organisations here.

Scared about sharing your data? Your competitors aren’t!

Forget locking it away, here’s 5 reasons you should be sharing data outside your organisation

There are many businesses out there who are still to really get to grips with their data, and how they need to share this across their organisation.  I’m always banging on about how businesses need to do a better job of treating their data as a key asset.  It’s the hidden gem.  The golden egg.  Yet it often sits there, neglected…unloved.  With the potential to transform a business, but without the platform do so.

I’ve seen first-hand how a well thought through business intelligence strategy can drastically improve a business’s performance.  I’ve seen it open up new markets, drive operational efficiency, improve customer retention and ultimately deliver profits that were previously thought unachievable.

However, today’s blog isn’t aimed at those who are yet to begin their analytics journey; it’s focused at those who already have access to internal data, but who are missing the next big opportunity – sharing that information with a much wider audience.

1 – break down the barriers

Open your books.  Share your data.  Ok, so I understand that it sounds a bit scary, but many forward-thinking organisations can see that by sharing relevant information and data across the supply chain they are, in fact, entrenching themselves further into the hearts and minds of both their customers and their suppliers.  Supplying great analytics helps engender a positive and productive relationship.  After all, two brains trying to solve a problem is better than one.  Use the power of the collective human intelligence available to you – but make sure that all parties (both internal and external) have access to the data to make those decisions.

Become an indispensable cog in the wheel by opening up, not hiding away.

2 – gain a competitive advantage

There’s no getting away from this shift in commercial relationships.  It’s happening.  Let me be clear – if they are not already, then your competitors will all soon be doing this.  If you think it might not be a good idea, then you are already one step behind.

However, there may still be time to steal a march.  Talk to your key customers and suppliers about how you can provide data and share more analytic capability, and how they feel that could benefit your relationships.  Be innovative – you might just be surprised by the reaction!

As an example, a client of ours recently won a large tender with a supermarket.  The supermarket’s decision to award them the contract was driven in no small part by their ability to demonstrate that they could provide access to accurate, timely data to support both production and sales workflows across that supply chain.

The other competitors couldn’t provide this.  Need I say more?

3 – open up a new revenue stream

Once you’ve come to the conclusion that you would like the capability to deliver information to your customers and suppliers, the next thing is to consider if that access can be monetised.  It’s certainly not the case in all situations – often there is a different need to share data (such as winning the business in the first place), but there are also many use cases where you may be able to charge a fee to access that data.

For some of our customers their business model is specifically driven by this approach.  They have developed a unique offering in their sector, where they can provide (paid-for) access to data which gives insights to their customers.

4 – learn and evolve faster

There is no better way to understand how you can improve your products or services than sharing information.  Is there a gap in the market?  Should you open more stores? How can you attract more clients with specific attributes?  These questions are the typical hunting ground for most board meetings.  Looking for those opportunities to grow and develop.

Unfortunately, opportunities are often lost because there’s simply not enough data available to support the decision-making process.  All too often it comes down to gut feel.  For some, this can work well, but business is littered with those horror-stories of people who took a gamble that didn’t pay off, or those that rue the opportunities they missed that their competitors didn’t!

By sharing data, you will be able to make those decisions with a much greater level of analytical support.  Ok, it’s not going to be a magic bullet, but at least you are going into those opportunities with your eyes open rather than your head buried in the sand.

5 – move with the times

We live in a new digital age.  We are impatient, demanding, and if we can’t get what we want we will move on to another supplier quickly.  Workers are used to modern tools – mobile apps, cloud solutions, seamless integration of systems and processes.  Modern fridges can now re-order products for us.  Modern cars can drive and park themselves while communicating to other cars around them.  The same modern approach is true of our expectations around data and analytics when interacting with our customers and suppliers.

Take the rise of FinTech as a good example.  Targeted at millennials, they provide banking and finance solutions that rip-up the rule book.  Starting with a blank canvas (but a lot of data) they are able to consider their market differently to the traditional institutions.  They have become a disruptive force.  Building focused solutions for a new generation, who are demanding a modern approach.

Data and analytics is right at the heart of this.  Those new FinTech companies use vast quantities of data to make sure their products are working effectively for their customers, but they are also sharing a level of analytics with consumers never before seen in that market.

Let me put this differently.  How many of you reading this have a bank who would consider themselves ‘modern’ because they now offer you a digital bank statement and a mobile app to check your balance?  Probably most of you.  What if your bank offered you access to a platform whereby you could get access to full portfolio analysis across all of your accounts, savings and investments?  Better understand spending patterns, market forces and how other products and services could help improve your returns.  All of this on a modern, dynamic platform that can be accessed from any device at any time.  Doesn’t that sound better?

Now consider your business.  Which category do you fall into?  Those millennials are no longer just the workers.  They are today’s purchasers, managers and directors.  They are demanding a modern approach and you need to move with the times to satisfy them.

If you are still not sure…read point 2 again.

How can we help?

As the UK’s largest, dedicated Qlik consultancy we spend our lives implementing these modern analytics platforms for our customers.  Many of those customers are still focussed on internal reporting – which is certainly an area to be addressed first.  It makes perfect sense to ensure your own workers, managers and directors have access to a comprehensive, intuitive data analytics platform before you open that up to your customers and suppliers.

Many of our customers have already reached that point.  They are the ones who are innovating in their sector, by sharing data, information and insights to a wider, external audience.  They are also the ones who are seeing the biggest growth in their markets.  Winning more contracts, adding more customers, working more efficiently.

The Qlik Platform is able to deliver industry leading business intelligence solutions for the complete range of use cases.  Structured dashboards, governed self-service analytics, mobile solutions, custom portals, embedded analytics, or content distribution – no problem.  Whether the consumers of that information are internal or external, Qlik has it covered.

Want to read more about just how ‘industry leading’ Qlik is?   Then read my blog on this years’ Gartner Magic Quadrant.

If you’d like to talk to me, or one of our team about how we could help you to deliver enterprise quality internal and external analytics, then we’d be happy to help.  Please check out our other blogs and our website for lots more information and additional ways to get in touch.

If nothing else, I hope this article gets you thinking about how attractive working with your business is to your wider supply chain of customers and suppliers.  Could you do more to innovate and develop those relationships?  Would that help take your business to the next level in your sector?  Food for thought…

Thanks for reading,

Ross Greig

Managing Director, Ometis – Elite Qlik Solutions Provider

ross.greig@ometis.co.uk

0330 363 9900

http://www.ometis.co.uk

Qlik Sense Tour 2016 Highlights

We’ve had a few weeks to let the dust settle after our amazing Ometis Qlik Sense Tour took place at Hotel Football on the 29th June 2016. We had a great day and an even better turn out. Everyone had a real interest in what Qlik and Ometis had to offer them, and their respective businesses and the day was a huge success.

A couple of highlights of our day are detailed below, just in case you missed out!

Keynote speakers

Ometis’ own Andy Patrick – Head of Sales and Qlik’s David Sedgwick – Principle Solution Architect gave the keynote speeches and demos explaining how by connecting, people, data and ideas you can uncover new data driven possibilities and see the whole story that lives within your data.

Customer Presentation

Gary Higgins- Financial Director at Pipers Crisps explored how his company are using Qlik to deliver detailed analytics across their entire organisation, towards their ambitious goals over the coming years.

 

Hands-on workshop

The hands-on workshop led by Chris Fitzpatrick allowed our delegates to experience Qlik Sense in action. Everyone got to experience Qlik’s platform for themselves, by putting in their own data. We put the power of data discovery right into their hands and helped them uncover new data driven possibilities.

With step-by-step instruction, guided by our experts, they were able to:

  • Build a fully functional dashboard application
  • Easily navigate their own application
  • Use interactive storytelling to present their findings

 

Networking Opportunities

As always these events are a great way to network with peers, Qlik, Ometis & and current Qlik customers who share similar day-to-day challenges. All questions were answered by the experts and everyone found out more about the wonderful world of Qlik Sense.

Overall, a great day and we can’t wait to see you at next year’s event!

Qlik continues to lead while Gartner get tough

Each February, Gartner releases its annual assessment of the Business Intelligence & Analytics Platform market.  The ‘magic quadrant’ format of this publication is now familiar to many in the industry.  Each platform is graded on two key metrics; Completeness of Vision (horizontal axis) and Ability to Execute (vertical axis).

This year I’ve built my own!

Here’s the resulting dashboard showing data from all of the last 6 years combined:

Dashboard new

 

As a Qlik enthusiast my first port of call when I wanted to further analyse the results was always going to be Qlik Sense.  Within a few minutes, I had used the Qlik Data Manager to connect to my Excel file and import the data into Qlik Sense – all without having to write a single line of script. Immediately, this gave me huge insight into the data and I found myself naturally drawn to several important insights. A few of which include:

These are explained in detail later on.

Gartner Analysis

The Magic Quadrant image below (Gartner, 2016) shows the results published in the last few days.

As you may guess from the name, the chart is divided into four quadrants, which allows Gartner to group the vendors into the following four categories: Niche Players, Visionaries, Challengers and Leaders.

Gartner Quadrant

The 2016 report makes great reading for everyone involved with the Qlik Platform.  For the 6th year in a row, Qlik has been positioned in the ‘Leaders’ quadrant, and that is certainly something to shout about.  However, this also got me thinking about how some of the other vendors are performing, how the overall landscape (according to Gartner) is changing, and why Qlik continue to remain a leading player in this field.

The Data Explained

In order to understand more about the trends over time, I collected the last 6 magic quadrants together and extracted the source data from the results.  To do this, I considered both the Completeness of Vision and Ability to Execute axes as values from 0 to 10 – with 10 considered maximum performance.

I then noted down the positions of each platform against the two axes and collected the results in a simple Excel file.

Scoring System

In addition to those two metrics, I needed a single metric to compare and contrast the relative performance of each vendor.  While it’s clear that platforms in the ‘Leaders’ quadrant are the highest performing, it can be difficult to directly compare platforms across all the different quadrants.

To normalise the results, I multiplied the two scores together to produce a Total Score for each platform.  To give an example, a vendor positioned directly in the centre of the chart would score 5 for Vision, 5 for Execution and 25 (5×5) as a Total Score.

Finally, I graded the vendors across High, Medium and Low performing categories using 15 and 32 as the score boundaries. This can be visualised as follows:

Blog Boundaries

N.B – I’ve used the terminology High, Medium and Low as arbitrary categories to give some understanding for you, the reader. I have no doubt you’ll have your own thoughts on this.

So far, so good…but now we get on to the good stuff!

Gartner is getting tough

The first thing I noticed was that the average score across the platforms showed a marked decrease in 2016 – down to 17.3 from 23.1 in 2015.

Blog Scoring

You can then see this borne out by the relative split of the three coloured segments in 2016 (right hand chart).  There’s a significant increase in those found to be Low performing (Niche Players) and only 3 platforms are considered High performing (Microsoft, Qlik and Tableau).

To investigate further, I plotted the average results of each year:

Blog Quadrant

From this chart, we can see that 2016 is the obvious outlier.  Interestingly, we can observe that 2016 actually has the highest average Vision scores, but there has been a significant reduction in Gartner’s assessment of the overall market’s ability to execute.  This poses some interesting questions of how Gartner is choosing to evolve its assessment criteria and why they believe the market has shifted in this way.  Gartner certainly seem to have ‘got tough’ in 2016.

Where are the Challengers?

My next insight came by selecting each year in turn and observing the movements of the dots for each platform.  It was fascinating to see the evolution of each product over the 6-year period.  While doing this, I noticed one anomaly – that 2016 is the only year that has no platforms positioned in the ‘Challengers’ quadrant (top left).  Birst is the closest we have to a ‘Challenger’ in 2016, but it seems to have fallen foul of Gartner’s stringent Execution criteria on this occasion.

I wanted to do some further digging into the performance of those products that had (at some point in the last 6 years) been considered Challengers.  To do this, I quickly cycled through each year and selected those platforms that appeared in the Challengers quadrant.  There were 4 vendors; TIBCO, Tableau, Birst and LogiAnalytics.  Finally, I selected just the 2016 year to find out where they are all positioned today.  The results are interesting:

Gartner Magic Quadrant

Of the 4 products that have been considered challengers, only Tableau has managed to force its way into the Leaders quadrant.  Birst may still have a chance, and it will be interesting to see how its position will develop over the next 12 months, but a 1-in-4 conversion ratio from Challenger->Leader is going to make it tough for any new vendors in the market place.  Both LogiAnalytics and TIBCO appear to have stagnated as other vendors evolve their products and highlight potential issues with their relative ability to execute.

Consistency is key

One area I wanted to focus on was the performance of Qlik.  Ok, so I have a vested interest in monitoring Qlik closer than some of the other vendors, but this still showed some significant insights.

The first thing that stood out came when I plotted the status of each platform across all the years.  Here I’m just showing the top 10 vendors, sorted by average score:

Blog Consistency

The thing that stands out is that (based off the normalised calculations) Qlik is the only vendor to achieve a High performing (green) status in each of the last 6 years.  This is quite remarkable given the company that Qlik is keeping.

In addition, some of the other High performers from previous years (IBM, SAS, MicroStrategy, SAP, TIBCO and Information Builders) certainly appear to be slipping away when you look at their positions in 2016:

Gartner Magic Quadrant 2

Qlik v Tableau

The rise of Tableau into the High performing category has certainly been impressive over the last few years, and no-one can deny they have a compelling offering for some customers who require little in the way of data transformation.  Given that there has been a significant overall reduction in scores across all vendors, I was keen to assess the relative movements of Qlik and Tableau over the last 12 months

This first image shows the 2015 position, where Tableau hold a strong position:

2015 AVG Score

Next we look at the updated view for 2016:

2016 AVG Score

In 2016, Tableau has followed the same movement in profile as many other vendors – a small increase in Vision, but a reasonable drop in Execution performance.  On the other hand, Qlik has shown a strong increase in their Vision with only a small decrease in their Execution performance.

I believe the improvement in Qlik’s Completeness of Vision is down to their new and improved platform approach.  The acquisition of NPrinting for content distribution, the release of Qlik Sense Cloud for application sharing and remarkable sales of the newer Qlik Sense product seem to have impressed our colleagues at Gartner as they now rank Qlik above Tableau once again.

Summary

There is no denying that our industry pays attention to reports such as this one produced by Gartner.  For anyone related to BI it is always interesting to see an objective view of the market.  Like the tools we use, sell, or implement on a daily basis, this information helps us make more informed decisions.  As the UK’s largest dedicated Qlik consultancy we pay particular attention, and remain impressed by the results.  Qlik consistently enhance their leading platform, and the successful implementations we deliver to our customers are a testament to that.

It will be interesting to see how Gartner’s evaluation criteria develop this year, and if some of the vendors who have fallen away can fight their way back into the Leaders quadrant.  I think we all appreciate that BI and Analytics is going to remain a hot topic for many organisations throughout 2016 and we look forward to the challenges and success that will bring.

Next Steps

If you are interested in obtaining a full copy of the Qlik Sense application from which this analysis is based, then we would love to hear from you.  If you are not already a Qlik Sense user, then no problem,  our team will be happy to support you in installing the free desktop version so you can start exploring this data (and your own) in much more detail.

Contact me directly, or email info@ometis.co.uk for further information.

Thanks for reading!

Ross

www.ometis.co.uk