Monday, June 15, 2009

Cloud-Based QlikView Still Isn't Available as a Service

Summary: Pay-as-you-go pricing would make QlikView easier to buy, but the company doesn't offer this option. To make a stronger business case for the purchase, include the value of shifting work from IT to business users, and of producing results faster.

Last week’s post about QlikView 9.0 prompted an inquiry from a manager who has been trying for a year to convince his company to consider the product. Having run into this issue many times, I easily felt his pain and we speculated a bit on what might help things along.

One obvious tactic would be to purchase QlikView on a pay-as-you-go basis, presumably cloud-based. But a quick check with QlikView confirmed that they don’t allow this and have no plans to change.

The closest they come is to let their partners offer QlikView-based applications as a service. For example, they pointed me to SportsDataHub, which lets users analyze football statistics for $40 per year. But the key point about this and similar QlikView services is that you can only access data loaded by the partner. You can't define and load your own data sources directly. At best, you might be able to create your own reports based on the loaded data. (See QlikTech Marketing SVP Anthony Deighton's comment on this post for a little more on the subject.)

I don’t understand QliiView’s reluctance to adopt a Software-as-a-Service model. It has proven viable for many other software companies, including other business intelligence vendors. To me, it seems a natural extension of the company’s “seeing is believing” sales approach as well as a good way to sidestep the barriers raised by corporate IT.

In fact, QlikView’s tremendous ease-of-use makes it an excellent fit for the SaaS model, because business users can deploy it for themselves with minimal technical support. In our conversation last week, QlikTech's Deighton said the majority of clients already implement the system without purchasing any external services. If there was ever a piece of software suited to SaaS, this is it.

Be that as it may. The lack of a proper SaaS offering left my correspondent with several avenues to pursue:

- find a QlikView partner who would build an appropriate application and sell it to him on a services basis. This doesn’t seem very plausible because he probably won’t be able to commit enough funding to make the project worthwhile for the partner. I mean, if he had that much money, he could just buy the software outright in the first place.

- use an alternative system that costs less. Yes, QlikView is unique and wonderful, but products from ADVIZOR Solutions, Lyzasoft, Tableau Software and TIBCO Spotfire offer some of the same advantages at a much lower entry price. Again, this is far from ideal, and it might not work at all because I didn’t explore precisely which aspect of QlikView my correspondent found attractive. Still, it’s better than nothing.

(Vaguely related aside: today, people often cite author Jim Collins’ phrase “good is the enemy of great” as a reason to avoid compromise. Previously, I was more likely to see Voltaire’s “the best is the enemy of the good,” which means that compromise is better than nothing. I’m sure this reversal says something important about our society, although I can’t say what. You're welcome.)

- Find a way to sell QlikView internally. Of course, my correspondent had already been trying, so his question was whether I had any new ideas for how. This actually prompted some very deep thinking over the weekend, which will show up in my Information Management magazine column over the next several months. To summarize four pages in 100 words, there are two approaches to consider:

- do a cost of ownership analysis showing the savings from letting business users perform tasks currently done by IT. Traditional cost analysis compares the time it takes IT to do the work with one tool vs. another. This hides rather than highlights the advantages of QlikView and similar products.

- do a “time to result” analysis that measures the time spent waiting for IT to deliver solutions through multiple iterations. This applies to many analytical databases, not just QlikView, because their flexibility reduces the time spent building conventional BI structures like star schemas and data cubes.

Perhaps one of these will work. I hope so, because we could all benefit from finding ways to take advantage of what new technologies like QlikView have to offer.


David Gerbino said...


I have demoed QlikView and have had them demo it to me. Awesome product but I got the feeling they were stuck in an ancient pricing model. If they do not wake up soon, they will be passed by the rest of the industry, even if they currently are selling their software right now like crazy. Microsoft is lurking in the wings and Tableau and Spotfire just keep on getting better.

My recent needs were a bleeding edge dashboarding tool that was 100% Stephen Few (research his books as Amazon) compliant so I had no choice but XLcubed the proud owners of Bona Vista Systems dashboard engine.

I do not know what the future holds, I just hope they are still around when I am ready to use them.


Christian Bader said...


that's right. It's hard so sell it internally to the IT Guys. I have got the same experience in my company. DWH guys do have got to much sunk costs in "old" OLAP/BI technology and they don't believe, that this is much faster with QlikView.

Quite a while ago I found a QlikView SaaS offer in the web: It costs 80 Euros per user and month.


David Raab said...

Thanks Christian. That's a VERY interesting offer these guys make. Or seem to make, given how poorly I read French.

Anthony Deighton said...

It was good to talk to you last week. Read this and wanted to clarify a few things regarding QlikTech's philosophy on Cloud and SaaS for BI.

We believe SaaS BI offerings are successful when they are focused on solving a specific business problem. QlikView business partners are in the best position to do this. So we offer QlikView as an infrastructure to partners who want to offer analysis to their customers. We do this on an OEM basis. A great example is Zyme Solutions which offers a world class channel intelligence solution for high tech manufactures. They know more about how to effectively manage a channel than anyone, and we offer them the fastest/best way to get that analysis out to their customers.

The QlikView cloud offering, which is part of QlikView 9, gives customers the best of both worlds – they can deploy on a cloud infrastructure, AND/OR deploy on local servers. In the example you cite, the manager who is trying to sell QlikView into their corporation can benefit from our cloud offering by not having to pay for the hardware costs up front and can pay for use of the EC2 infrastructure as its used. QilkView is sold on a per user basis rather than a per month basis, but we've removed the barrier to entry for hardware costs in this scenario.

Edi said...

Personally I think the Qlikview is way overpriced and that people are paying to much money for something that is not that easy to use.

take for example SiSense that have a SAAS model from day one, and they are going to release a new version very soon with cloud abilities.