New data query, machine learning and security capabilities will feature prominently as Qlik continues to add capabilities to its analytics platform.
The vendor kicked off QlikWorld 2022, its virtual user conference, on Tuesday when it demonstrated the full breadth of its platform. And though Qlik didn't unveil a major platform update or the launch of a series of new capabilities, it gave a detailed preview of capabilities it plans to add in the coming months.
Qlik, founded in 1993 and based in King of Prussia, Penn., offers a full-featured platform that takes raw data from insight to action.
Two years ago, the vendor introduced the concept of active intelligence -- which it defines as the automatic delivery of data and analytics to users in real time wherever they're working so they can take action with data-informed decision -- and since then has continuously added capabilities in an attempt to bring active intelligence to fruition.
For example, additions in 2021 included Forts, a tool that enables users to access and analyze data where it's stored rather than require them to import it into Qlik for exploration and analysis, and an integration with RPA vendor UiPath enhanced Qlik's process automation capabilities.
Meanwhile, Qlik acquired Big Squid to build on its existing automated machine learning capabilities.
And with the economic uncertainty that has resulted from global events like the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions and the war in Ukraine, the need for data in real time has never been greater, according to Qlik CEO Mike Capone.
"We are now operating where economic and market conditions can change overnight, and there are no signs we are going back," he said during the opening keynote of QlikWorld. "The interconnected nature of the world is here to stay. However, there is a path to creating as much certainty as possible, and that path is through data."
In particular, data delivered to the right people at the right time.
"Being able to leverage [that data] helps you be able to navigate both today's challenges and what lies ahead," Capone added.
Mike CaponeCEO, Qlik
While active intelligence is vital in the current -- and likely future -- economic climate, the actual capabilities Qlik has on its roadmap are fundamental rather than revolutionary, according to Donald Farmer, founder and principal of TreeHive Strategy.
The front- and back-end capabilities the vendor has added in recent years, including data integration via the 2019 acquisition of Attunity, have bolstered the Qlik platform, but other additions have been about addressing and filling gaps.
"Qlik is in an interesting place," Farmer said. "It appears that the data platform components -- Attunity and related products -- are the key components in their profitability. [Beyond that], they are building out numerous unexciting but necessary features."
Moving forward, as Qlik continues to build up a full array of analytics capabilities and compete for market share with the likes of Tableau and Microsoft Power BI, among other major players in the analytics and business intelligence market, the vendor's roadmap is designed to address five primary product goals.
They are the development of a top-flight SaaS product, a full-cycle analytics pipeline, the delivery of insights for all and not just a small percentage of employees within an organization, making data actionable and providing products that lead to customer success.
"The aim of the … pipeline is to free data from the silos in real time to allow users to find it simply, enrich it and create derivative data from it, and to help as many people as possible understand and discover insights from it that can then be consumed anywhere," James Fisher, Qlik's chief product officer, said during QlikWorld. "This is the foundation for active intelligence."
Toward those ends, among the many features Qlik plans to add to its analytics platform in the coming months are enhancements to Hybrid Data Delivery, the introduction of Direct Query and Qlik AutoML, and more security and compliance capabilities.
Hybrid Data Delivery, which Qlik unveiled in 2021, is a cloud data delivery service that automatically replicates, updates and catalogs data in real time from on-premises sources into Qlik Cloud. The tool takes data from such sources as relational databases and applications such as SAP and moves it into customers' cloud storage repository of choice.
The tool is already capable of delivering data from on-premises sources to cloud data warehouses Azure Synapse, Google BigQuery and Snowflake, and soon will be able to deliver it into Databricks as well. In addition, it will be able to load data from more on-premises sources and integrate with Qlik's data transformation capabilities.
Direct Query will enable users to create a QlikSense application that pushes queries down into their database of choice rather than force them to extract data from data warehouses and data lakes and import that data into Qlik before they can query and analyze it.
Initially, Direct Query will enable in-database queries in Snowflake, with access to additional cloud data storage platforms to be added over time.
Qlik AutoML is the result of the vendor's recent acquisition of Big Squid, and will enable users to generate machine learning models without having to write code for scenario planning and make predictions.
And finally, added security and compliance capabilities include frameworks for specific industries including global financial reporting and the U.S. healthcare system and a tool titled Bring Your Own Encryption Key that enables authorized users with compliance requirements beyond the frameworks Qlik already provides to encrypt their own data.
"The biggest step in these announcements is the new Direct Query model," Farmer said.
He noted that Qlik has historically built its query and analysis tools to work within its own environment even as other vendors have developed close relationships with cloud data storage providers that enable query and analysis within cloud data warehouses and lakes. And as a result, Qlik's analytics platform has sometimes struggled with the scale of modern data, according to Farmer, a former Qlik vice president of innovation and design.
"This new Direct Query experience breaks that history," he said. "For the first time, you can connect directly to a database rather than having to load into memory and index. It will be interesting to see if this develops into a new engineering direction for Qlik or it is just a check box for the numerous customers who like Qlik but couldn't make it work with their data."
Qlik also plans to add more process automation capabilities, enhancements to its data catalog, new APIs and integrations, additions to its mobile app, new augmented analytics capabilities including natural language generation tools in Spanish as well as English, and more tools to enable embedded analytics.
Though Qlik revealed many of the capabilities it plans to release throughout the rest of 2022, it did not specify when it would make the capabilities generally available.
Before 2021, the vendor released four platform updates each year, but when it made its cloud-native platform its flagship, it changed its release cycle. Now, Qlik simply adds new tools to its analytics platform whenever development and testing are complete, and its cloud customers can begin using them immediately.
Later, it packages them together into a traditional update for its on-premises customers, with QlikView 12.70 due for release later this month.
"[The platform] is all about driving more business value from data," Fisher said.