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Qlik aims to enable outcomes with data and analytics tools

The longtime BI and data integration vendor doesn't only want to enable customers to analyze data and reach insights but also enable actions that result in real outcomes.

As Qlik adds functionality to its analytics and data management platforms, it wants to do more than just enable data-informed decisions. The longtime analytics vendor wants to enable actions that result in tangible outcomes.

Qlik rose to prominence based on its ability to help customers analyze their data. Five years ago, beginning with the acquisition of Podium Data in 2018 and quickly followed by the purchase of Attunity in 2019, it began to aggressively build a data integration platform.

Since then, it has also acquired such vendors as to add more data integration features. Most recently, in January 2023, it reached an agreement to acquire Talend in a move that will add data fabric capabilities.

Meanwhile, Qlik has continued to invest in its analytics platform. In 2020 the vendor introduced the concept of active intelligence -- the ability to deliver data and analytics to customers in real time no matter what application they may be using at any given moment -- and that continues to guide its roadmap.

But neither data analysis nor data integration are Qlik's end goal, according to Mike Capone, the vendor's CEO.

Rather, Qlik wants customers to use data integration and analytics to reach insights that trigger actions that produce outcomes. Those results could be as simple as profit growth. They could also be fraud detection or preventative maintenance.

Recently, with Qlik's annual user conference scheduled for April 17-20 in Las Vegas, Capone discussed Qlik's current state and future plans.

He spoke about Qlik's reasons for adding data integration and the vendor's roadmap for its data integration and analytics platforms. In addition, he talked about whether Qlik still plans to go public after filing paperwork for an initial public offering in January 2021 and his views on generative AI tools such as ChatGPT.

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

Going back five years, Qlik had not yet expanded into data integration. In the last year, however, many of Qlik's more significant moves, such as the pending acquisition of Talend and launch of Cloud Data Integration, were related to data integration. What went into Qlik's decision to expand beyond analytics?

Qlik CEO Mike CaponeMike Capone

Mike Capone: One of the things we'll do at the conference is make sure people understand that we are not moving away from our commitment to analytics. More than half of our research and development is in analytics.

But at Qlik we're not trying to sell data analytics or data integration. We're trying to sell an outcome. We want to solve a business problem. Our customers [like] our analytics. But more and more, their problem is getting massive amounts of data from all their different sources out of operating systems, getting it curated and cataloged, and getting it into an analytics-ready platform. We bought Attunity for data integration, and now we're adding Talend for data transformation and data preparation. We also invested heavily in data catalog tools.

The other part is that they have the data in and they've analyzed it, but now what? They have the insight, but does it just sit in a dashboard? They have to be able to do something with that. So we've also invested heavily in what we call automation and action, which is the ability to take that insight and automatically do something with it. Solving that problem that ends in a business outcome is what we're excited about.

With respect to Talend, what made it an acquisition target?

Capone: We had our eye on them for quite some time, and it was about two things.

One is the technology was complementary. We thought their data transformation -- data quality and data preparation -- was best in class. Our customers tell us the same thing, and we had a lot of customer overlap. We loved their technology. Culturally -- they're a company founded in France that moved its headquarters to the U.S. and we're a company founded in Sweden that moved its headquarters to the U.S. -- there's a beautiful fit that will help us accelerate time-to-value as far as bringing the companies together goes.

Looking forward, what's the roadmap for Qlik's data integration platform?

Capone: We're going to move quickly to bring the data integration platform together [following the acquisition of Talend]. We've got a plan, subject to regulatory approval, to get the deal closed and get the tools we're inheriting with Talend as well as the existing Qlik platform working together. We will continue to support standalone Talend use cases as well as the former Attunity technology that Qlik has built on. We're going to be completely open so customers don't have to be all or nothing with our stuff. We'll work with customers [from whatever cloud] they want to work with us.

That said, we think that by the end of the year, we're going to have an amazing value proposition of a fully integrated change data capture and data transformation platform.

Regarding analytics, Qlik introduced the concept of active Intelligence a few years ago. Does that continue to drive product development?

Capone: It does. It's about unlocking value.

At Qlik, we're not trying to sell data analytics or data integration. We're trying to sell an outcome. We want to solve a business problem.
Mike CaponeCEO, Qlik

There are use cases like credit card companies managing fraud. If a company sees a pattern, lock the card. Don't wait to tell someone to do it. We continue to invest heavily in automation capabilities, and we invested in building a connector factory to move data. That's a data integration piece, but it supports our active intelligence vision by being able to talk to different platforms both on premises and in the cloud to support automation. That will continue to be.

Then you can layer in automated machine learning and augmented intelligence -- all in our platform. You can train algorithms and get new insights that can be fed into the automation pipeline.

What's the roadmap for Qlik's analytics tools?

Capone: The future is going to be around the AutoML [automated machine learning] and AI capabilities as well as automation. But we'll also continue to enhance our normal analytics platform with more visualizations and more use cases.

You mentioned AI. Does Qlik have plans to integrate with generative AI tools like ChatGPT?

Capone: We're already there. We have lots of customers linking generative AI into our platform and building applications. We have open technology, and that's what we're built for. There will be some partners at QlikWorld that will be showing off cool stuff. We think [generative AI] is a natural evolution and think it's complementary to what we're doing and not competing with what we do.

We're also hearing from a lot of people asking for help understanding [generative AI]. It's a little intimidating. Some of the financial services companies have banned it. My daughter's high school has banned it. We're gearing up to advise our customers on how to introduce the technology in a safe, controlled way so as not to let it go off into the wild.

A handful of vendors have already integrated with OpenAI to incorporate generative AI in various tools. But what is Qlik's approach to AI?

Capone: AI is interesting. But I would stress that it's part of a much larger picture. AI is useless unless you can train the data and have the data in a format that AI can leverage it. ChatGPT is scraping the web [for data]. I would just make sure, from my perspective, that people are cautious. This is going to take time to sort out and be part of a much larger picture. It's not this little thing that's going to take over the world.

One of the big things Qlik did at the start of 2022 was file paperwork for an initial public stock offering. The public markets' appetite for tech IPOs dried up right after that. So do you still have plans to go public?

Capone: We're watching the markets very closely right now, but our big goal is to get Talend integrated. We know how to [get Talend integrated], but it's going to be a lot of work, as with any big acquisition.

We'll keep an eye on the IPO market, and if the timing becomes right, that will be the path for us. But it's not the only path. We liked our chances before as a standalone provider of analytics and data integration in the market. With Talend coming in, we really like our chances. We think we have a great outcome no matter what, whichever way we go.

What would have to change in the public markets for you to go through with an IPO?

Capone: The IPO market needs to loosen up. We want to see a more conducive and friendly environment for investors in tech IPOs. But more importantly, we need to believe that being public would make us more successful than being private. We did believe that when we filed 16 months ago.

We have a balanced business. We have nice growth and we have nice profitability. So the good news is that Wall Street seems to have come back around to valuing companies that make money. The whole grow, grow, grow and spend, spend, spend thing was never our way. Let's grow, but let's make a profit. If we believe that we can get value for that balance and operate in a way that is best for us, we'll go public. But if we don't believe that, there's no rush.

Finally, with QlikWorld just a few days away, what can Qlik customers expect to hear from you during the conference?

Capone: My commentary is going to be around optimism. While the world is an uncertain place right now -- war, inflation, the [COVID-19] pandemic -- I'm optimistic because it's been proven that data and analytics can show us the way and help us navigate through these turbulent times. We're positioned to help our customers do that with our end-to-end platform, including data integration, analytics, alerting and actions.

We'll expand on that. Seventy percent of the presentations will be from customers and partners, and we'll be talking about the ecosystem that's been built up. When I first got to Qlik five years ago, our ecosystem was around smaller partners who were building purpose-built analytics applications. Those were great and we loved them. But now our ecosystem includes customers embedding our technology inside of theirs to allow their own customers to leverage data and analytics.

Eric Avidon is a senior news writer for TechTarget Editorial and a journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He covers analytics and data management.

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