Last week, at its annual partner summit in Miami Beach, Florida, QlikTech laid out its themes for its future product release, currently dubbed QlikView.next.
Over 900 partners were in attendance at the vendor’s annual conference. It is however, the first time that QlikTech invited key analysts to the event, a reflection of both the organization’s growing prominence in the BI space, but also, the vendor’s maturing organization in its ability to respond to requests for information and constructive criticism.
In some respects, the conference was also a who’s who in the BI industry as a number of long-time industry veteran’s have flocked to this fast-growing vendor, in part a reflection of the brain drain at other companies, and in part a reflection of QlikTech’s attracting top talent in the BI space.
Donald Farmer, formerly of Microsoft and now VP of Product Management at QlikTech laid out five themes in the next QlikView product release: gorgeous and genius, collaboration, mobile and agile, open platform, and enterprise ready. While I have worked with Donald in his past role at Microsoft and he’s participated in some TDWI bake-offs, it’s the first time I have heard him deliver a keynote. I was impressed by how inspiring he was, with a rare ability to convey abstract, potentially mundane technical concepts with humor and insight. For example, in talking about the goal of making QlikView both gorgeous and genius (terms not typically applied to a BI tool), he compared QlikView to Hedy Lamarr, a classic beauty and MGM actress who also invented wireless communications technology.
While QlikView 11 is primarily IT-developed applications and dashboards, the demo of QlikView.next had a greater concept of business-user assembled dashboards. QlikView 11 introduced collaborative features (see the BI Scorecard in-depth review) but QlikTech wants to make collaboration more pervasive in the next release.
With the ongoing uptake in tablet devices (Apple sold 3 million iPad3s in the first three days of that product launch), it’s not surprising that mobility is a key theme for the next release. What was surprising, though, is that QlikTech gave a nod to Windows 8 impact on both the desktop experience and mobile, whereas most other BI vendors seem to have largely dismissed Microsoft’s influence on mobile.
As QlikTech has grown as a company and QlikView applications have grown in scale, QlikView.next will bring more open API’s for partners to develop applications. It was noteworthy that this was the first partner conference that included an exhibit hall of technology partners such as Panopticon and Expressor. The Panopiticon integration, for example, brings real-time streaming into a QlikView dashboard. The Expressor and Informatica integration brings data integration and more robust ETL than what is currently available in the QlikView scripts. Other planned improvements to enterprise administration include better tools for IT to manage large QlikView applications.
Noticeably absent from QlikTech’s future product strategy were plans for cloud or big-data, at least in terms of Hadoop integration—scalability of QlikView applications was a theme in a number of track sessions.
QlikTech’s partner network, with numerous resellers that account for half the company’s revenues, is a competitive differentiator versus chief competitor Tableau, who only recently began focusing on growing such a network. It also is a differentiator versus mega BI vendors who have often failed to nurture such relationships, particularly post industry consolidation. As one partner said at this conference, “with SAP we are a pawn, and they are the king. With QlikTech it’s (the relationship is) direct, fair, and customer centric.”