Qlik announces Qlik Sense updates, doubles down on cloud

Now that it's once again a private company, Qlik is making aggressive investments in areas like cloud and data prep.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

Nearly a year after going private, business intelligence (BI) and visual analytics firm Qlik is announcing the latest version of its flagship product, Qlik Sense.

Updates to Qlik Sense are made available on Qlik Sense Cloud as they're ready, and they will be available for on-premise deployment in June. Qlik's rollout strategy, plus the new features themselves, reflect Qlik's determination to make aggressive investments in areas like cloud -- a move it can make now that it's free from the pressure of the public market.

Going private enabled "the ability to make some bold bets with the backing of so-called 'patient capital,'" Anthony Deighton, Qlik CTO and SVP of products, told ZDNet.

"Where we are today from a product strategy perspective is tightly related to the fact we're a private company because we can make these types of investments," he said. "The primary big investment vector for us, among others, is around cloud and around big data."

The company now has more than 100,000 users visualizing data with Qlik Sense Cloud and Qlik Sense Cloud Business. Its cloud business has been "way more popular than we anticipated," Deighton said, adding that it has exceeded the company's internal estimates "by an order of magnitude."

"In some ways the success of cloud has caused us to double down and increase our investments in the area," he said.

The Qlik Sense June release comes after an investment in Qlik's infrastructure aimed at making the platform run seamlessly in the cloud or on premise. It offers connectivity to hundreds of data sources, including file-based sources like Excel, enterprise sources such as Oracle, web- based sources like Salesforce.com, and big data sources like Cloudera.

Qlik's also invested heavily data prep capabilities. With smart data preparation, users can load, transform, and enrich their data without the need for complex scripting. For instance, the platform comes with auto-generated visual representations of the data as it's loaded into Qlik Sense. Additionally, table concatenation allows users to easily concatenate tables even if they do not have the same fields and field names. For instance, companies could bring tables from two companies together even if they didn't store data the same way.

Another major area of investment is geoanalytics. Rather than treating all data equally, Qlik wants to help its customers "understand the meaning of the data as you're working with it," Deighton said. The new features include a whole range of geoanalytics capabilities to help people interpret location data and use that information in visualizations. Beyond the obvious capability of creating a map, Qlik Sense can add drive-time calculations, intersections, or visualize data within certain geographical boundaries.

The latest version can also build visualizations to help users understand time-based data. For instance, a user could look at a stock price over three years and zoom in to reveal the data over smaller increments of time.

"Everything happens somewhere and sometime," Deighton said. "Being able to recognize those data types is really important."

Meanwhile, Qlik is also rolling out Qlik Sense Mobile, a new, native iOS app. It supports the full associative model when offline, with the Qlik Indexing Engine (QIX) running locally. Bringing Qlik Sense to the iPad will be especially helpful for certain sectors like the pharmaceutical industry, which has sales reps out in the field who need offline access to the platform.

Since Qlik now does continuous updates to Qlik Sense Cloud, several features are already available for cloud customers. The company is working to better align its on-premise delivery with its cloud delivery model, so after three releases last year, it's moving to four this year. Next year, there will be five releases, Deighton said.

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