Qlik has long been known for QlikView, a product that helped move the business intelligence market toward self-service over the last decade. Qlik's new lead product is Qlik Sense, an even more business-user friendly, visual self-service app introduced last year, but that won't mean the end of QlikView.
QlikView 12, introduced on December 8, is the first of many annual upgrades to come, and there is no plan to retire the product, insisted Qlik executives at last week's Qlik Analyst UnSummit in Austin, Texas. With release 12, QlikView shares the same in-memory, associative Qlik Data Indexing (QIX) data-analysis engine with Qlik Sense and all other products on the Qlik Analytics Platform (QAP). That will make it easier to migrate apps to the appropriate product.
Other upgrades in QlikView 12 include improved clustering for scalability, mobile touch improvements for better use of native functionality on iOS and Android devices, and RESTful API connectors for linking to Web services such as those used by social sites and Web content management systems.
In comparision with QlikView, Qlik Sense makes it easier for business users to analyze data and develop reports and dashboards. That much was confirmed by six prominent customers at last week's UnSummit. Pharmaceutical distributor AmerisourceBergen, for example, is rolling out Qlik Sense dashboards to several thousand internal users as well as to customers.
Demand for Qlik Sense helped Qlik increase license revenues 20% (in constant currencies) in 2015, said CEO Lars Bjork, up from 13% in 2014. The company is expecting even faster growth as it moves into subscription-based services with Qlik Sense Cloud. Launched this year as a freemium service, Qlik Sense Cloud is approaching 30,000 registered users, and the company will soon introduce a paid, Qlik Sense Cloud Plus edition offering more storage, wider sharing and larger app sizes than supported on the free service.
By mid 2016 Qlik plans to introduce a workgroup service tier on Qlik Sense Cloud that will add collaboration and data-governance features. And by some time in 2017, Qlik will introduce an enterprise-class service capable of supporting hybrid and purely cloud analytics deployments at scale.
MyPOV: Competing in a Crowded Market
The vendor stresses that Qlik Sense supports more than just data visualization. That's a jab at Qlik's younger and faster-growing rival, Tableau Software, which is best known for data visualization. Qlik's differentiated is its associative QIX data-analysis engine, which keeps the entire data set and rich detail available even as you explore and focus in on selected dimensions of data. If you select customers who are buying X product, for example, and you'll also see which customers are not buying that product. In my view, associative exploration gives QIX advantages over data visualization alone or conventional drill-down analysis where you filter out information as you explore.
Qlik's biggest challenge in the coming year will be raising its brand profile in an increasingly cloud-centric BI and analytics market. Competitors will include not just Tableau, Birst and GoodData, but also Microsoft with Power BI, IBM with Watson Analytics, SAP with Cloud For Analytics, and Amazon with its recently announced QuickSight service.
Qlik is making an effort to improve its marketing so it can better compete with all these rivals. It's starting with the simple step of ensuring consistent branding. QlikView is the company's best known brand, and in the past this product name has been used synonymously with company names QlikTech and Qlik. Now the company is consistently using Qlik across Web sites, collateral materials and even buildings, and the Qlik Analytics Platform is the underpinning for all products, including Qlik Sense, Qlik Sense Cloud, QlikView, QlikView NPrinting, and the growing Qlik DataMarket for third-party enrichment data.
Among large vendors, Microsoft with Power BI poses the biggest potential threat to cloud upstarts like Qlik and Tableau. To stand apart, Qlik needs to just needs to forefront the combination of the associative QIX engine and the Qlik Sense interface. To my mind that will require more partnerships and word-of-mouth marketing tactics rather than branding wars against much bigger players. Qlik has more than 37,000 customers and millions of users, so it has an excellent springboard to grow Qlik Sense and Qlik Sense Cloud.