BI Deployments should be Quick, Business-focused and User-driven: Henry Seddon

Business Discovery is a whole new way of exploring and making use of data that puts business users in control. Unlike traditional BI, where just a few people are involved in insight creation, Business Discovery enables everyone to create insight. QlikTech is pioneering the usage of user-driven BI. With QlikView Business Discovery, business users can easily analyze data and experience that "a-ha" moment of discovery. To find out more about this revolutionary approach, Sneha Jha spoke to Henry John Seddon, VP-Global Field Marketing, QlikTech, about BI, Business Discovery, big data, in-memory analytics, and the power of data for strategic decision-making.

With the mainstream acceptance that analytics is driving business differentiation, how do you see the Indian market receiving BI products?

Business Discovery is a whole new way of exploring and making use of data that puts business users in control. Unlike traditional BI, where just a few people are involved in insight creation, Business Discovery enables everyone to create insight. QlikTech is pioneering the usage of user-driven BI. With QlikView Business Discovery, business users can easily analyze data and experience that "a-ha" moment of discovery. To find out more about this revolutionary approach, Sneha Jha spoke to Henry John Seddon, VP-Global Field Marketing, QlikTech, about BI, Business Discovery, big data, in-memory analytics, and the power of data for strategic decision-making.

With the mainstream acceptance that analytics is driving business differentiation, how do you see the Indian market receiving BI products?

If we consider Indian companies, initially, most of them started with an MIS report. Cost was quite high and implementation time was very long. According to various estimates, BI implementations go on for around 16-18 months and the ROI is doubtful as well.

Our approach is very different. Ours is user-driven BI. Users directly use the tool without help required from the IT or technical people, and they directly interact using an in-memory technology. Instead of an IT-driven, report-centric BI, we have an application-driven end-user tool. That's a big change.

In terms of overall market, the BI space is growing at a rapid pace. Analysts predict that the BI market in India is growing at a rate of 30-40 percent. Some sectors are ahead of others, but overall, there is very high growth in the Indian market.

Our recent "State of the CIO" survey revealed that CIOs face several challenges related to recruiting and training BI-specific talent. How can CIOs address these challenges and knit together a BI project team?

Our approach is very different. It places users at the center stage. Business users don't want long and complicated algorithms and a technical approach to BI. They are looking for an easy-to-use, intuitive platform where they can ask a lot of ad hoc queries and gain insights. Therefore, contrary to some of the needs of statisticians and data scientists, we use only user-driven BI, where users themselves interact with the data and acquire insights. We try to make it simpler so that they don't have to rely upon data scientists and statisticians.

A BI project is very different from a traditional IT project. The business analysis is the tricky part of it. What are the best practices that CIOs should employ?

CIOs in the western world face similar issues. But Indian CIOs need to get it quicker. Western CIOs have been on this journey for some time. So, I think the big difference is that Indian CIOs need to do it quicker. They are blessed with a growing economy, which is not the case with their western counterparts.

Underneath all of that, the challenge there is an underlying concern that the needs of business users have not been adequately addressed for long. Therefore, there is a pent-up demand.

So, when many of the customers approach QlickTech to look at QlikView product offerings, they are frustrated because they have been looking for solutions to answer their questions for a long time. They are not getting anywhere with traditional vendors. QlikView can answer their questions much better and address their challenges more effectively.

How should CIOs think about architecting infrastructure for the future, especially for business analytics?

The big difference is with business analytics and in-memory. QlikView has been talking in-memory for 20 years. So, there is a big trend surrounding in-memory software and big data.

CIOs understand that big data becomes relevant only when it is mapped to analytics. So, there is a lot more around big data as well. It has to be matched together with business information. So, that's another trend.

The third trend is related to cloud computing. There is a need for CIOs to prove that software can exist on the cloud. But the most important thing is that users haven't been catered to. Today, business users are more tech-savvy than before. Mobile phones come with more memory. Business users today expect the same in all the devices they use. So, the fourth big trend is ensuring that business users are catered to. That is a challenge.

Mobility is the fifth trend. And mobile BI is gaining a lot of traction.

How much effort is required for organizations to move from traditional BI to business activity monitoring (BAM) and finally to predictive analytics? How hard is the progression?

It doesn't have to be that difficult. We've got customers who were struggling with their traditional BI solutions for six to eight months, and within weeks, their problems were resolved with our user-driven BI. What CIOs need to do is pick the right solution and not try to overcomplicate it.

Most of our customers deliver solutions in weeks and not months. And there is less hardware, software provisioning and training needed. Technology has improved. The ability to access information has improved significantly. We have many examples in India and on a global level. We also have examples where businesses were struggling to get support from the IT organizations, and ended up developing it themselves. So, it can be done.

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