Today Qlik unveiled a showcase of warmly welcome announcements and upcoming innovations at Qonnections 2018. New CEO, Mike Capone, opened the event with a reassuring message for his 48,000 customers. He did not disappoint. Here’s the scoop and my perspective.

New CEO Delivers Crowd Pleasing News

With an entertaining sense of humor, new CEO, Mike Capone humbly took the stage and shared updates. Since Qlik is privately owned, they don’t get many opportunities to boast about performance metrics. Capone seized on this one.

Qlik Clients

Qlik Clients

Qlik continues to be used in top organizations. They also claim to keep customers touting a 94% retention rate. Capone mentioned Qlik won 3,800 new customers last year and doubled the developer community to over 25,000 members.

Qlik Make it Right

“Making it Right”

The new CEO appears to listen and take action. Capone wasted no time “making things right”. The crowd was pleased with his four key messages for them this morning.

  1. Qlik is completely committed to entire portfolio – migration is optional. They recognize some groups love QlikView and don’t want to move.
  2. Qlik is accelerating Qlik Sense roadmap. They know there is a wish list of must-haves and they are doubling down this year to deliver them.
  3. Qlik is making optional migration easier. For groups that do want to make the move from QlikView to Qlik Sense, they are investing to make it easier to migrate.
  4. Qlik customers will no longer need to buy second licenses for Qlik Sense. A license for one can be a license for both with an uptick in maintenance fee – exact fee amount has not yet been determined. They emphasized that they want to do the right thing. I personally know this has been a huge, fair gripe with Qlik’s customer base that prompted shopping for alternatives.

Cognitive Analytics

Qlik Beast

“The Beast” in action

My personal favorite news from this event was in the area of augmented analytics. Talented Elif Tutuk, Director of Qlik Research, showcased nice progress in combining artificial intelligence with business intelligence. She referred to Qlik’s cognitive capabilities as “the Beast”. The Beast powers a variety of features across the entire development life-cycle from improving the core Associative Engine to enhancing Qlik’s bubbly joins with suggestions, auto-generating the right types of charts, ranking the key drivers of a metric and highlighting statistically significant findings. The shown demos were valuable and actionable. The roadmap is also appealing for detecting hidden insights. The Beast will likely improve the overall Qlik UX.

Qlik The Beast

Associative Big Data Index

One of Qlik’s announcements that I found particularly interesting was for big data analytics use cases. They revealed a new, patent pending(?) Associative Big Data Index and query language called QSL (That is not a typo – it is not SQL. It is QSL.) that “brings Qlik to the data”. Associative Big Data Index is a highly performant, distributed, multi-parallel indexer of the Associative Engine that initially is focused on S3 and Parquet data lake storage. There are two parts – data extract/aggregation and query indexer. The design pattern sounded similar to Zoomdata or OLAP on Hadoop to me except I confirmed that the Associative Big Data Index model cannot be used outside of Qlik’s front-end tools. Also, QSL is using a proprietary microservices design. If I can get a technical architecture diagram, I will add it.

I likely have not given this functionality justice. Here is how Qlik describes it. “The Associative Big Data Index is a new cloud service on Qlik’s product roadmap that will expand Qlik’s associative experience with big data, moving the power of association from the user interface to the underlying ecosystem of all data. This new capability will enable the Qlik engine to index and store information about resident data within sources such as data lakes and Hadoop, without the need to load all the data into memory. The Associative Big Data Index will enable fast and engaging data discovery on massive data volumes with full access to all the details of the underlying data. “

What Else is New, Wild and Exciting

Qlik Qonnections Bubbles

Intelligent Join Recommendations

Other little pleasantries mentioned in the keynote that will likely be appreciated by Qlik’s community include:

  • Insight Advisor
  • Theming enhancements and better customization
  • Pixel perfect layouts (I need to test this myself when it is ready. If it is what I think it is, the crowd should have cheered loudly!)
  • Multi-layer mapping
  • Improved “jitter” capability for advanced analytics scenarios
Qlik Jitters

Qlik Jitters

Repeating an old message, we heard more chatter around multi-cloud, flexibility and choice. I do love that message and always fear lock in when it comes to my data. However, we have been hearing Qlik talk about multi-cloud now for several years. When asked what was different about it this year, Linux, Kubernetes, and microservices were mentioned for elastic scale. We also saw a demo of easier, more granular Qlik app deployment across on-premises servers and different cloud regions.

Qlik Loves Developers

Just like the big tech companies that push cloud, usage-based pricing and subscription models, Qlik is betting big on developers and partners building and embedding to expand their market share. Qlik Branch and the Advanced Analytics Toolbox for R, Python and other languages is popular. Today Qlik shared a new platform for developers called Qlik Core.

Currently in beta, Qlik Core will give developers the ability to use IoT, edge analytics, embedded and custom analytics to drive new business models. Using an open source distribution model, Qlik Core delivers the Qlik Associative Engine with supporting APIs and libraries for integration into non-dashboard projects. Qlik Core leverages a containerized approach and includes Qlik’s open source library components such as halyard.js, mira.js, enigma.js, enigma-go, picasso.js and after-works.js.

My Overall Vibe

All in all, I was grateful to be invited to participate in the industry analyst sessions. Historically, I have been tough on Qlik. I do have a much better understanding now why Qlik was able to hang on to a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader spot despite a challenging 2017. I witnessed a healthy sized crowd of avid Qlik fans and partners. The “smart” cognitive features aka “The Beast” and the associative big data index do sound fantastic.

“New CEO is making things right.”

The personable new Qlik CEO appears to be listening to his customers and taking actions to “make things right”. He reminds me of another executive that took on a difficult situation with Power BI several years ago and successfully turned it around. Let’s see what Qlik’s CEO does next. He will need to get adequate funding from Thoma Bravo for Qlik to thrive. He could also use another truly magical Qlik marketing campaign like the Seeing is Believing one back in 2010-2012 days to improve market awareness.

Qlik competes in a space filled with massive sharks. I did not see any “blue ocean” announcements that would alleviate the risks of swimming beside those scary sharks. I also sensed that Qlik now has an extremely lean staffing model. I suspect they might be betting too much on external developers and partners to keep market share and grow the company. Monster competitors – who ironically share the exact same inbound lead service and many of the same partners – offer broader portfolios, stronger global brand recognition and larger revenue opportunities. How will Qlik’s leads be protected? Will there be enough incentive for external developers and partners to sell Qlik? My gut feel is Qlik is doing the best that they can with a limited budget. Kudos to them for rallying the troops and delivering a solid roadmap.