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QlikTech recently introduced QlikView 11, the latest version of its business intelligence (BI) software, which emphasizes new collaboration features as well as enhancements to its user interface. In an about-face, though, in its approach to mobile access, the company has moved away from its native iPad application to a browser-based app using HTML5 technology.

It has been a year since QlikView 10 was launched and I assessed it. During that time, we’ve seen the popularity of social media drive a rising interest in collaborative BI. But QlikTech is not yet explicitly linking the two. While it has announced integration with Chatter, the social media tool from Salesforce.com, and is demonstrating those capabilities, they are not part of QlikView 11. The collaborative features of this release include new interpretations of well-known features such as annotations and threaded discussions. Version 11 also adds a unique collaborative BI capability to share the QlikView environment with others, much as you might share your desktop in a WebEx session. In fact, as part of my briefing about the new release, I was given a link to see the new version and interact with it even though I had no installation or QlikView license of any kind on my computer. One way in which QlikTech has reinterpreted annotations is to allow the user to save a snapshot of the system at the time the note was taken. In this way readers of the note can understand the context in which the note was written.

QlikView 11 also includes expanded comparative capabilities. Beginning with QlikView 10, users could create custom groupings of data to include in the display, but they were static. The comparative analysis capabilities of this release enable users to continue to navigate and perform selections within the groups. For example, a custom grouping to compare the northeast region with the southeast region can be further refined to see how individual product sales compare within those groups. The product also has some easy-to-understand visualizations of how the groups and their sub-selections relate to each other and to the larger group from which they were selected.

The company has added more application development capabilities in this release as well. QlikView 11 exposes application objects in a more granular fashion, making it easier to control the display and interaction of objects on the screen. The new version also supports third-party objects more fully, allowing them to execute custom code which the previous version could not do. QlikTech has also partnered with data integration vendor Informatica to build QlikView data files using Informatica’s products. This integration should help speed up the data preparation process, which our analytics research shows is where people spend much their time.

As QlikView has gained more enterprise customers, the company has been adding features to appeal to the IT organizations that must support its deployments. In this release, the product reloads faster. It has more load-balancing options, and the management consoles of the previous versions have been consolidated. More of the administrative APIs are available so these tasks can be automated. Security has been enhanced with more granularity. Now the auditing feature does not have to be applied at a system level but can be applied to individual applications, which eliminates some of the overhead associated with auditing.

While QlikTech continues to add interesting features, there are some omissions from its product. For example, it has no specific features to support Hadoop for large-scale data. In fact, QlikView’s memory-based architecture will make it challenging for the company to support Hadoop as a data source, and our recent Hadoop benchmark research shows that many enterprises are adopting Hadoop. A QlikView Community poll also shows interest in Hadoop as a data source. Predictive analytics is another area lacking in the QlikView product line. (Discussions in the QlikView Community suggest only a moderate level of interest in adding these capabilities.) Our analytics research indicates that 37% of the 2,600 organizations studied said predictive analytics are important although only 13% have deployed such capabilities so far. We are currently conducting research specifically on predictive analytics to understand this dichotomy better.

With respect to mobile capabilities, one of our five key technology trends for BI, QlikView has opted for a cross-platform approach rather than continuing to provide or expand its native applications. While some BI vendors such as Information Builders are adopting a similar strategy, others such as IBM, which recently introduced a native iPad application, are going the opposite direction. The key advantage to enterprise users in QlikTech’s choice of HTML5 is cross-platform support, which enables organizations to support a wider variety of devices. However, as I worked with the HTML5 version from the demo site, I found the browser-based version much less appealing than a native application. For example, my stretch gestures were often interpreted as selections. The browser-based drop-downs were harder to work with than native application controls, and the need to dedicate a portion of the screen to non-BI browser functionality (such as entering URLs) leaves less space for BI-specific functionality.

QlikTech deserves credit for continuing to enhance its product’s ease of use and providing new collaborative capabilities. Enterprise IT should welcome the new administrative and security enhancements. It still has more work to do on the big-data and predictive analytics fronts, which are not addressed in this release. And it will be up to users to judge whether QlikTech has taken a step backward on the mobile front.

Regards,

David Menninger – VP & Research Director

In a move that may indicate the beginning of a new wave of activity in the business intelligence (BI) market, Oracle has announced its intention to acquire Endeca. Founded in 1999, Endeca originally focused on search capabilities for online commerce. Users selected a product attribute, and the software automatically revised the remaining selection criteria based on products matching the previous selection. We have been covering Endeca as part of the BI and information applications marketing. For instance, if the products only come in one color, the color attribute would be removed from the selection criteria and possibly replaced by other relevant criteria. Most of us take this behavior for granted as it has been adopted or imitated by many e-commerce sites and other Web properties.

More recently Endeca began applying its search and navigation capabilities to the business intelligence market with the introduction of Latitude which it positioned as a separate product line from its InFront e-commerce products to gain flexibility in rolling out new features. Both product lines were mentioned as being valuable in the acquisition process, but in my opinion without Latitude the deal would not have happened.

As I’ve written before, end users understand and prefer search-based navigation, popularized by Google. BI vendors long since incorporated search capabilities into their products. However, BI search capabilities have been limited largely to structured data and metadata. Endeca cracked the code for searching both structured and unstructured data at an auspicious time. The proliferation of unstructured data has occurred in conjunction with explosive Internet use and the rise of Hadoop to manage large volumes. Our recent benchmark research shows that Hadoop users often work with unstructured data. In August Endeca announced that it had expanded Latitude to support Hadoop.

Congratulations to the Endeca team: They spotted an opportunity and created an innovative solution leading to its acquisition. Beyond that success, there are implications for the broader market. We identified the importance of search capabilities and the need for business to assemble information into what our firm has defined as Information Applications for which our Information Applications benchmark research validated. I expect to see more activity and investment in making it easier for organizations to leverage unstructured data. Several other companies are drawing attention in this context. My colleague Mark Smith has written about Datawatch which has technology for extracting information from Adobe Acrobat, HTML and XML documents. Actuate acquired Xenos to incorporate similar capabilities as part of its BI product line and to be part of the larger demand for information and not just analytics. With its $10 billion valuation, the pending HP-Autonomy deal suggests that the importance of handling unstructured data has not yet peaked at least in the eyes of one investor which also is in the business of providing information based applications to its customers. Another company, MarkLogic, that my colleague assessed recently has also seen significant growth.

Venture capitalists also are likely to invest more in this market. They tend to flock toward segments where some success has been proven but has not yet gone mainstream. As part of their portfolios of investments, many VCs want to have one or more companies that compete in the same market. The presence of more investment will also draw more startups into this segment, and thus the cycle of investment and acquisition will continue as suggested in my post on the software ecosystem. The result for enterprises will be positive as software companies deliver more information applications capable of helping them navigate more easily through increasing volumes of structured and unstructured information. Oracle is not new to information and applications, so the Endeca acquisition will compliment its Fusion middleware efforts that has been continuing to expand its footprint.

Regards,

David Menninger – VP & Research Director

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