Cloud, mobile take intelligence to shop floor

Mobile devices and cloud computing pave ways to reach more employees, but cloud holds some limitations for enterprises, says QlikTech executive.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

The cloud and mobile devices are platforms helping QlikTech to push business intelligence (BI) to the shop floor.

The BI vendor recently made its QlikView 9 product available on the cloud and for the iPhone.

Henrik Been, executive director, product marketing, told ZDNet Asia on the sidelines of a QlikView event Tuesday, QlikTech chose to make its product available on more platforms to reach out to employees beyond top-level executives.

Traditional BI has typically consisted of static reports and targeted toward top-level decision-makers and technical users. But the demand for BI is moving swiftly to the shop floor, said Been.

"Employees from the ground up want information and feedback so they can develop [plans] and strategy... What we are seeing now is [demand] for simplified tools," he added.

Touching on QlikView's iPhone application, Been said it is targeted at sales staff who are on the go--part of this category of "new" BI workers. The iPhone app uses the mobile device's capabilities such as GPS-tracking to bring location-based information to the mobile worker, which a desktop application may not be able to.

The ability to access the QlikView application online provides a way for companies to "try out" BI in new departments, without committing to investment in hardware or new IT support, Been added.

An IDC analyst said in April, the cloud's immediate opportunity for vendors lies in providing "commodity" offerings, and pointed out the need for them to find a "commoditization plan" for their products on the cloud.

Cloud not for all users or vendors yet
But the cloud, for now, remains a limited field for enterprise app deployment, according to Been.

As for QlikView's cloud deployment on Amazon's EC2 platform, the latter's upload allowance restrictions prevent companies with large data sets from effectively crunching the numbers on the cloud. It is suitable for "horizontal scaling", and bringing applications to a larger number of users, but not for applications that require a lot of intensive computing, he said.

QlikTech also appears to be taking a more cautious approach to the cloud. Its availability on the cloud is meant to provide offsite, Web-based access and is reliant on pulling data from the customer's hardware. It has no plans to provide a fully-hosted SaaS (software-as-a-service) version for now.

The bulk of enterprise users are also unused to cloud-based deployments. "People don't know about the cloud and don't see the opportunity yet. But we're moving in, first," said Been.

He acknowledged it may require more investment for other software players to port all their apps to the cloud. "It's easier for us to get on the cloud, because we're a one-product vendor," said Been.

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