Did you see us at IP EXPO?

For the second year in a row, we attended IP EXPO as Europe’s largest enterprise event headed to the Excel centre in London this October.

There we were joined by members of the Qlik UK team, including Paul Winsor. Paul is Qlik’s Director of Retail & Services Market Development and he hosted a seminar session on day one that investigated the value of IoT data.

His talk went down a storm and there wasn’t a spare seat inside the Analytics Theatre as he explained the challenge of making IoT data accessible and understandable. That’s no small task considering there’s going to be anything from 50 to 200 billion IoT devices being utilised by 2020 (that’s around 20x more connected devices per person than today).

As it happens, Paul put people’s minds at rest by explaining the crucial role Qlik is likely to play in the digestion and dissemination of this data… thanks Paul!

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I do think Paul’s talk was one of the best seminar sessions at the event, but you may call me biased. It’s true there was plenty of expert opinion and knowledge around analytics, IoT and key factors in the understanding and capturing of business data. That said, we all know Qlik are the leading experts when it comes to understanding business data and Ometis are the UK’s largest dedicated Qlik provider. By default, I feel that makes us the leading BI experts in the country but if you want more proof, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Overall, we joined more than 300 exhibitors at the event which was bursting with CIOs, heads of IT and heads of insight. That’s why it’s become such an important part of the Ometis calendar and one we do not want to disappoint at. And we certainly didn’t disappoint this year. Whether it was my excellent humour, Andy’s tight trousers or Chris’ youthful good looks, we were lucky enough to meet hundreds of people, all of whom were interested in learning more about Qlik’s innovative platform.

Then again, it could have been the free mints, pens and bottle openers!

By Neil Thorne

We’re Heading To IP Expo – Europe’s No.1 Enterprise Event

It’s official, Ometis are heading to this year’s IP Expo, Europe’s leading enterprise event, at Excel London from 4 – 5 October.

We’ll be joining more than 300 exhibitors as the must-attend IT event of the year for CIOs, heads of IT and insight leaders. IP Expo is a platform for exclusive content and senior-level discussion topics, and we’re happy to announce we’ll be joined by Qlik to host a seminar session.

The annual event is an important part of the Ometis calendar and incorporates expert opinion and knowledge around analytics and IoT, key factors in the understanding and capturing of business data. We’ll see you inside the Analytics area on stand KK17, make sure you pop by.

We’ve also organised a special appearance by Qlik Director of Retail & Services Market Development, Paul Winsor, who’ll be hosting a seminar session on discovering the value in IoT Data.

It is estimated there will be over 20x connected devices per person on the planet by 2020, and anything from 50-200 billion IoT devices. That’s a lot of data being generated from IoT ecosystems. The challenge will be making all that data accessible and understandable to start extracting value from it all. Paul will explain how Qlik are making this happen at 2.40pm on Thursday 4th October inside the Analytics Theatre.

While we’re there, we’ll be taking the opportunity to discuss Qlik’s various products and complementary platforms that ensure you get the most from your software. These include Narratives for Qlik and NodeGraph and we’ll have a number of pre-set demos that showcase the power of Qlik, with true data visualisation at the touch of a button.

If you’re heading to this year’s IP Expo in London, come and say hello – we’ll have a few goodies to give away and plenty of charm and wit to make your visit worth it.

Don’t despair if you’re not attending this year’s event either, we’ll keep you up-to-date over the official Ometis social channels, so get following! We’ll also have a complete IP Expo review to follow so you won’t feel too left out.

 

By Ross Greig

Trends in the BI Marketplace

Data is entrenched within business processes and decisions. In today’s digital world, it’s imperative to organisations across the globe and a controlling factor in whether a business achieves success and continues to grow, efficiently and sustainably.

Companies that have already harnessed the power of data have secured a hugely competitive advantage and generated innovation that’s enabled positioning above their competitors. It wasn’t long ago that obtaining, digesting and distributing business data was a full-time role, perhaps even a full team’s role, but the previous decade has seen unparalleled development in business intelligence, its collation and readability.

Never before has so much data been available so swiftly and simply, and no more simply than via the ground-breaking Qlik platform. As an official Qlik partner and BI consultancy, we enjoy divulging the latest news and evolutions – that’s why we want to share our expectations for digital BI over the coming months and years.

So, we teamed up with Qlik for the recent Qlik Sense Tour to collate some predictions which include AI, hybrid clouds and the death of ‘big data’… read on to find out why.

INTERACTIVE VISUAL RENDERING

The first big trend that’s taking hold is the move from basic visual rendering to context-driven visual analytics, which will enable simpler visualisation of every aspect of your data.

It means an end to consuming only the data you can see, the end result of a set of queries in report format. Instead you can visualise the data throughout preparation and acquisition, while seeing and understanding its lineage – and the whole process will be presented in an easy-to-digest visual format.

This trend is driven by organisations becoming more data literate, and leaving the ones that aren’t behind. According to MIT and Emerson University, data literacy “includes the ability to read, work with, analyse and argue with data” and that only comes with true visualisation.

DEATH OF ‘BIG DATA’

The second trend is data consumption. Combining data sources is where the true value lies and this has become easier, faster and generally more efficient in recent years. Easy access to higher quality data is going to drive a change in the way we consider ‘Big Data’.

Most ‘Big Data’ projects have met with limited success. Throwing the data into a data lake, or hoarding it with no clear purpose is inefficient. That’s always been our opinion at both Ometis and Qlik but Gartner validates this further by explaining that, through 2018, 90% of deployed data lakes will be useless as they are overwhelmed with information assets captured with no clear plan.

That’s the key here. It’s great having lots of data but you must still make sense of it. It’s not about size but combinations of different data sources, regardless of where the data is coming from. It’s why Gartner is predicting that by 2019, 75% of analytics solutions will incorporate 10 or more external data sources, and that 100% of enterprises will purchase external data.

AI… BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT

We are beginning to see focus shift from ‘advanced analytics’ to ‘advancing analytics’… or from BI to AI but not necessarily AI as you may know it! Let us explain…

Advanced analytics will continue to expand in companies and the market in general, we know the creation of data models is dependent on highly-skilled experts, as is the governance of creations of these data models. However, many more people should be able to benefit from those models once they are created, enabling them to be brought into self-service tools.

There is clearly something going on in the area of Artificial Intelligence. People are talking about Deep Learning and Machine Learning and in fact, Artificial Intelligence is the new ‘Big Data’.  We believe analytics can be advanced by increased intelligence being added into software but to really make the most of AI, it needs to compliment and assist rather than replace.

We know it’s as important to ask the right questions as it is to get the right answers. Processes like synthesis, non-linear thinking, and asking the right question, as well as instincts will continue to be provided by humans. The sweet spot will be the combination of human reasoning with machine learning and the result will be better data literacy and faster delivery.

HYBRID CLOUDS

The final trend we want to talk about here is the move from on-premise to cloud hosting – and this trend may surprise you but we believe the mass move to the cloud will peak in 2017.

The battles between public cloud infrastructures like Amazon, Google and Microsoft will continue to heat up. After all, their ultimate goal is to own all the data and processes, but the single-stack approach didn’t work out on-premise and we don’t see it being much different in the cloud.

Workloads, data, publishing – these things need to sit in many places. That’s why we believe Hybrid Cloud Analytics will emerge as the dominant design, where platform-based, visual analytics is available on-premise and/or in the cloud publicly or privately depending on the customers’ specific needs.

 CONCLUSION

There are exciting times ahead in the realms of data. It’s clear that direct access to data will ignite a better understanding of its power and drive a greater need for visualisations that help organisations make informed decisions across all areas of their business.

Ometis’ role is to facilitate organisations understand the true nature of these trends and the power they have for decision makers. These trends are not only being addressed by the Qlik platform, they’re being fuelled by it.

If you want to know more about Qlik and how it can help you, don’t hesitate to get in touch and a member of the Ometis team would be happy to discuss the data-driven opportunities we can help you unlock.

Call +44 (0)330 363 9900, email info@ometis.co.uk or click here and fill out the contact form.

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.

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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

Planning Your ETL in Qlik

Qlik has a powerful script engine which allows you to bring information in from a variety of sources. It’s included within Qlik and because you load all the data into memory, once saved it is effectively a portable business intelligence (BI) solution. Of course in the real world the file would remain on a server where all the decision makers can access the information held within.

Naturally, one would assume each dashboard would bring in the data needed from its sources and this can be the case. However, when you’re planning a larger scale strategic implementation this becomes less efficient.

Qlik has a simple yet effective option to allow you to develop these large suites of BI dashboards. As mentioned, Qlik stores the information into memory and also has the ability to export data tables in a special format which is already optimised in the standard Qlik file format (QVD). This optimisation reduces the data size without the need for compression. A Qlik dashboard file can now be seen as something different; it becomes a script which moves a set of data from one location to another and perhaps transforming it as well.

For large deployments we would recommend creating three layers (three Qlik dashboard files):

  1. Extract
  2. Transform
  3. Dashboard Load

The Extract layer would take information from the source systems and place it straight into a QVD file. Here, the latest information from the source system can be added to the data retrieved previously – also known as incremental loading. This method is far more efficient than taking the whole history each time you re-load. It’s important at the extract stage that no data is changed, combined or additional fields added. This way you can easily test that your saved data matches the source file.

The next step is Transformation.  Here we read the previously saved data and get it ready for consumption for a dashboard. As before we would do this incrementally for large tables that are added to over time. Transformation would include; joining tables together, adding flags and calculations.

Finally the Dashboard Loads the transformed data it requires. As the data is fully prepared in the transformation stage, it can be loaded as ‘optimised’ which means it happens very quickly.

When storing QVDs in the Extract and Transform layers it’s good practice to split large tables into manageable chunks. These tables typically contain your transactional data which grows over time (commonly referred to as FACT tables). These bite sized chucks depend on the data volume although we would typically recommend monthly files – this makes archiving data in the future easier. Also, if your dashboard only requires information from the last twelve months, you don’t need to load a QVD file which potentially could contain many years of data, which of course would slow down your process.

The benefits of this type of data load structure include:

  • Your source systems are only accessed once, reducing the demand on their resources
  • You can validate the accuracy of each stage of the process
  • QVD files are built up over time and are optimised
  • Several dashboards can re-use the same data which is both efficient and consistent

If you have any questions or you’d like more information on how Qlik business intelligence can help your organisation, please don’t hesitate to contact us on +44 (0)330 363 9900 today.

Thanks for reading!

Richard Pearce, Senior Consultant.