Qlik acquires Podium Data as BI and Big Data coalesce

BI visual analytics juggernaut Qlik acquires data prep/management startup Podium Data. The union gives Qlik end-to-end prowess and brings the BI and data lake/Big Data worlds a little bit closer together.
Written by Andrew Brust, Contributor

QlikTech International AB (Qlik), a foundational self-service business intelligence (BI) player based in Radnor, Pennsylvania, today announced its acquisition of Lowell, Massachusetts-based data management startup Podium Data. The deal closed on Friday and was announced to employees yesterday. The two companies made the deal public today.

The tie-up gives Qlik serious data preparation, data quality and data catalog capabilities to add to its hallmark visual data discovery and analytics offering. Once tighter integration is achieved, the deal will effectively transform Qlik into an end-to-end data platform.

In an interview today with Michael Capone, CEO of Qlik and Paul Barth, CEO of Podium Data, I got some insight into the philosophy behind this deal: eliminating fragmentation. Right now, a lot of Enterprise customers are talking a best-of-breed approach to analytics, using standalone products for data preparation, data quality processing, data cataloging and curation, and, of course, visual analytics.

Add to that complexity the issue of data being scattered across so many database and application silos as well as the divide between BI and Data Lake technologies, and successful analytics implementations face a lot of hurdles. The Qlik-Podium union addresses many of these.

Keeping up with the BI Joneses
Let's be honest, though. There's a competitive facet to this deal as well. Tableau features its own data preparation capabilities now, in the form of Tableau Prep. Microsoft, through inclusion of Power Query, bundles data prep/transformation capabilities into Power BI and just announced those capabilities will be available in the cloud as well as in Power BI Desktop. Qlik was left somewhat the odd one out, without such capabilities.

Also read: Microsoft reveals new Power BI and Azure Data Warehouse capabilities

But, arguably, this deal lets Qlik leapfrog the competition, not just achieve parity. That's because Podium Data's platform includes data preparation, data quality and data catalog capabilities, including auto-masking of sensitive data. The data catalog is searchable and is based on a "shop for data" paradigm. Its philosophy is that by combining these capabilities, the platform enables businesses to get their data to analysis-ready state and then allow users to to find and use relevant data sets on a self-service basis.

By integrating Podium with Qlik, business users will also be able to analyze and visualize the data, rather than just locating and grabbing it. And with the Qlik Sense product, entire data "apps," as Qlik calls them, could be generated as well.

Precedented union
In fact, the two products have been used together already. One of Podium's lighthouse customers, Astellas, has been in production with Podium, at scale, for several years, and has used it in combination with Qlik. According to Podium CEO Barth, Astellas' implementation integrates hundreds of systems and serves thousands of users, and it enabled the company to migrate analytics workloads from Netezza to Hadoop.

Barth told me that the implementation of Podium allowed Astellas to shorten certain of their analytics processes from 90 days to 2 days, because the data is now in a constant state of readiness, rather than merely being stored. While such numerical comparisons by a vendor may seem a bit hyperbolic, the fact remains that offering users a curated universe of data sets, rather than an un-annotated raw data lake, makes things more actionable. That's common sense, not hyperbole.

Integrated, not assimilated
Although the Qlik and Podium teams will be working to integrate their products much more tightly, the two CEOs told me that the Podium Data brand will not be retired, nor will Podium Data's availability as a standalone product that can be integrated with other BI and analytics tools.

This strategy could well give Qlik entrée into accounts where competing products, like Tableau and Power BI, are entrenched standards. Some of those accounts may eventually adopt the flagship Qlik Sense platform; others may not. It's all upside though.

Deja vu, preview
The analytics ecosystem has a lot of companies. There's been plenty of consolidation, and there will be more to come. Many of these deals have involved Enterprise application players acquiring analytics vendors to add proprietary capabilities to their services.

Also read: Analytics acquisition deals continue: it's an all-you-can-eat buffet

In the Qlik-Podium case, though, we have a BI company and a data lake management company -- neither one of them a megavendor -- with potential synergies that won't be locked up in an application platform. That keeps the innovation in play and simplifies the landscape for customers -- and that brings mostly upside to the ecosystem.

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