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Qlik wants analytics platform to lead to certainty, swagger

The vendor has added capabilities through acquisitions in recent years, and at its user conference plans to demonstrate the full scope of its integrated, end-to-end platform.

Qlik doesn't want users of its analytics platform to merely walk into a room when they give a presentation.

It wants them to swagger.

Qlik wants customers to know -- with certainty based on analytics -- that what they're about to present is accurate, and the data-driven decisions they make based on their work are the best decisions possible.

To foster what the vendor is calling data swagger, Qlik will show off its fully integrated end-to-end analytics platform for the first time when it virtually hosts QlikWorld, its annual user conference, from May 17-19.

Qlik, founded in 1993 and based in King of Prussia, Penn., has spent the past few years building up that end-to-end analytics platform, largely through acquisitions.

In particular, the vendor acquired Podium Data in 2018 to add data management capabilities, Attunity in 2019 to add data integration to its cadre of tools, in 2020 to enable cloud-secure integrations with cloud providers and Big Squid in 2021 to add automated machine learning capabilities.

The result is a complete platform that delivers data and analytics to users in real time wherever they may be at a given moment so they can take action with data-driven decisions -- what Qlik terms active intelligence.

The vendor first introduced the concept of active intelligence in 2020, and since then the idea has been the guiding principle behind its product development.

Mike CaponeMike Capone

With QlikWorld less than three weeks away, Qlik CEO Mike Capone recently discussed the vendor's introduction of data swagger and its continuing efforts to deliver actionable insights to its users in near real time.

In addition, he spoke about potential plans for an initial public offering, for which Qlik filed initial paperwork in January 2022, its product roadmap for the year ahead and the trends he sees shaping analytics.

It's been about two years since Qlik first introduced the concept of active intelligence as a guiding principle for its analytics platform -- what does active intelligence mean to you?

Mike Capone: It's the ability to actually harness data from anywhere in the world -- anywhere in your ecosystem and any system anywhere -- in real time, analyze it, generate insights from it, leverage things like machine learning and augmented intelligence. And then more important than gathering insights is to then be able to do something with them. That's the holy grail: Get those insights and then automatically action them. That could be pushing a transaction with robotic process automation, it could be automatically sending a text to someone to tell them to change something. [In baseball,] it could be telling a manager to walk someone because there's a good probability they'll hit a home run.

In the year since QlikWorld 2021, what has Qlik added to its analytics platform to further the mission of enabling active intelligence?

Capone: The two big ones were acquisitions.

One was the acquisition of Big Squid. It's an autoML [automated machine learning] company, and we changed its name to Qlik AutoML. It was an acquisition to bring machine learning into the mainstream. Everyone thinks that training algorithms and data science are [separate from analytics] with white-coat data science people who take data out of the systems to work with it, try get an answer to some question and then it [never comes to fruition]. We wanted to bring that capability into our platform in real time so end users get the benefit of being able to actually use data inside an analytics platform to train algorithms and then generate insights. That was a huge step forward. Machine learning doesn't have to be separate.

The second one was the acquisition of That allowed us to do secure cloud-to-cloud integrations. That's the active part of active intelligence, which is once you get an insight, do something with it. That could be pushing a transaction to a CRM system, opening a ticket, and so forth, and that's been natively layered into our platform now so people can do that last mile of work.

What can you share about new analytics capabilities Qlik plans to unveil during QlikWorld 2022 in a couple of weeks?

The underlying theme is going to be leveraging data analytics in our platform to drive certainty in an uncertain world.
Mike CaponeCEO, Qlik

Capone: A lot of what we're going to unveil is the full, integrated platform. I don't think the majority of our end users have seen it all work together yet, end-to-end, and we're going to demonstrate the full suite of capabilities. The underlying theme is going to be leveraging data analytics in our platform to drive certainty in an uncertain world -- the pandemic, supply chain disruptions, workplace shortages. We used to say, 'Qlik: Lead with data,' and now we're saying, 'Qlik: To be certain.' That's going be our new tagline. It reminds people that using data and analytics can really help you be more certain in your decision-making.

We'll show some examples during the conference, but one is AirBus. AirBus uses our platform now, and as you can imagine, an airline manufacturer is wholly dependent on a global supply chain. They're leveraging our platform to get real-time information from a double-digit number of sources around the world to see where everything is in their supply chain. They're one great example of what we can do.

What will be your message to the Qlik community when you deliver your keynote address?

Capone: It's going to be all about how we can reinforce data as a pillar of decision-making. You're going to hear us use the word certainty a lot. We'll unveil a campaign around data swagger, which is the ability to walk in a room and be super confident about your presentation because you've actually leveraged data and our platform to help you make those decisions.

Looking beyond QlikWorld 2022 to the year between this year's conference and next year's, what new capabilities does Qlik plan to add to its analytics platform?

Capone: You should expect us to move faster into the data transformation space. We've got some terrific capabilities today, but as we build out our cloud platform you should see us continue to make moves and round that out.

The next frontier for us is what we're calling it data transformation as a service. The old world was ETL -- extract, transform and load data -- and the big, ugly thing in the middle was the transformation. There were tens of thousands of lines of code, and they were likely written by people long gone from your organization. We believe the world is shifting now and it's become extract, load and then transform -- get the data at high velocity, get it into a modern cloud data lake platform, and then do the transformation and leverage all kinds of modern capabilities to do that. That's where a lot of future emphasis, in terms of innovating on our platform, will be.

In addition, we'll be adding more AI and machine learning capabilities, particularly into more vertical use cases.

In January, Qlik filed a draft registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to begin the process of an initial public stock offering about five years after being taken private -- is an IPO still in Qlik's plans?

Capone: An IPO is a possibility. That's what I can say right now. We're filed, and that's on the record, but right now we're taking a wait-and-see approach. We're being patient. The market is essentially closed right now for IPOs, so we're being patient. We have a great business that's growing; we're profitable. There are many potential paths for Qlik, and an IPO is possible.

While an IPO is just one option for Qlik, beyond the initial filing in January, has Qlik done any other work toward a return to the public markets?

Capone: That one I can't comment on.

What has been the response from customers to the news that Qlik might go public again?

Capone: They were very excited. We have 38,000 customers and they're very loyal. They're rooting for us. We have a group of people called Qlik Luminaries who are the best of the best from our top customers, and we heard from them, and they were thrilled because it's like they're part of our team. And all of our large customers like that we're doing so well. It's comforting to them to know that one of the vendors they rely on to run their business is thriving.

Shifting gears away from Qlik specifically, what are some major trends you see shaping the analytics market?

Capone: When it comes to social responsibility, when it comes to hiring and recruiting talent, when it comes to environmental work, there's a huge trend in demand for analytics technology to help companies manage across that spectrum. Sephora -- luxury fragrances -- is a customer, and they leverage Qlik to help them completely manage their workforce and get all the statistics around hiring diversity and staffing models. In every industry, everywhere there is a search for talent, and that's driving a lot of demand for analytics. Additionally, the supply chain disruptions are an obvious driver of demand for analytics.

You mentioned environmental work and hiring diversity. Obviously the war in Ukraine is on the news every night -- are you seeing examples of analytics, whether from Qlik or anyone else, being used to help people affected by the war?

Capone: We work with an organization called Direct Relief, and we're helping them figure out where to get humanitarian aid. The way we're doing that is by streaming social media data into platform. What that enables us to do is see where people who have left Ukraine are landing in other countries like Moldova. We can see where people are communicating from back to people in Ukraine, and that helps us know where the [refugee] population is so they can be sent supplies. It's another way analytics is being used to change the world.

Are there trends not yet driving the analytics market that you think might become significant in the next couple of years?

Capone: There's an exponential curve ongoing, and the ability to put data into every single process, everywhere, to inform decision-making, is critical. We've been preaching for a while that you need bring data to people and enable them to take action, and I think you'll see demand for this kind of 'integrationable' platform that enables people not just to use data to react but to use data to make decisions and take action.

You have to have analytics everywhere. It's not good enough to have analytics as a bolt-on to an SAP system or a Workday system. It has to flow freely from any system, from any cloud, from any hyper-scaler. Data can't just live in one place. It has to live everywhere, and it has to permeate everywhere.

Editor's note: This Q&A has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

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