Thursday, July 17, 2008

QlikView 8.5 Does More, Costs Less

I haven’t been working much with QlikView recently, which is why I haven’t been writing about it. But I did receive news of their latest release, 8.5, which was noteworthy for at least two reasons.

The first is new pricing. Without going into the details, I can say that QlikView significantly lowered the cost of an entry level system, while also making that system more scalable. This should make it much easier for organizations that find QlikView intriguing to actually give it a try.

The second bit of news was an enhancement that allows comparisons of different selections within the same report. This is admittedly esoteric, but it does address an issue that came up fairly often.

To backtrack a bit: the fundamental operation of QlikView is that users select sets of records by clicking (or ‘qliking’, if you insist) on lists of values. For example, the interface for an application might have lists of regions, years and product, plus a chart showing revenues and costs. Without any selections, the chart would show data for all regions, years and products combined. To drill into the details, users would click on a particular combination of regions, years and products. The system would then show the data for the selected items only. (I know this doesn’t sound revolutionary, and as a functionality, it isn’t. What makes QlikView great is how easily you, or I, or a clever eight-year-old, could set up that application. But that’s not the point just now.)

The problem was that sometimes people wanted to compare different selections. If these could be treated as dimensions, it was not a problem: a few clicks could add a ‘year’ dimension to the report I just described, and year-to-year comparisons would appear automatically. What was happening technically was the records within a single selection were being separated for reporting.

But sometimes things are more complicated. If you wanted to compare this year’s results for Product A against last year’s results for Product B, it took some fairly fancy coding. (Not all that fancy, actually, but more work than QlikView usually requires.) The new set features let users simply create and save one selection, then create another, totally independent selection, and compare them directly. In fact, you can bookmark as many selections as you like, and compare any pair you wish. This will be very helpful in many situations.

But wait: there’s more. The new version also supports set operations, which can find records that belong to both, either or only one of the pair of sets. So you could easily find customers who bought last year but not this year, or people who bought either of two products but not both. (Again, this was possible before, but is now much simpler.) You can also do still more elaborate selections, but it gives me a headache to even think about describing them.

Now, I’m quite certain that no one is going to buy or not buy QlikView because of these particular features. In fact, the new pricing makes it even more likely that the product will be purchased by business users outside of IT departments, who are unlikely to drill into this level of technical detail. Those users see QlikView as essentially as a productivity tool—Excel on steroids. This greatly understates what QlikView can actually do, but it doesn’t matter: the users will discover its real capabilities once they get started. What’s important is getting QlikView into companies despite the usual resistance from IT organizations, who often (and correctly, from the IT perspective) don’t see much benefit.

1 comment:

jaganwgl said...

Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is fantastic blog. A fantastic read. I’ll definitely be back.
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