Qlik: Big Tech's Tableau, Looker buyouts spell opportunity in analytics

Qlik Senior Vice President James Fisher believes the deals validate his company’s emphasis on democrastising data

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Salesforce’s $15.7 billion acquisition of Tableau could be a pivotal moment in the data analytics landscape. The deal continues the trend of IT giants snapping up smaller analytics vendors, following hot on the heels of Google’s $2.6 billion acquisition of business intelligence startup Looker.

The splurge has made Qlik part a shrinking pool of big independent analytics firms but has only made the company more bullish about its business model. Qlik senior vice president James Fisher believes the splurge strengthens his company’s strategy of emphasising easing access to analytics and developing data literacy.

 “Ultimately, I think that all of this is about the cloud platforms looking to bring as much data as possible into those platforms to grab that data and to lock it in,” Fisher told Computerworld. “We believe that reduces the flexibility the customers are ultimately looking for.”

Qlik has been heavily promoting the platform’s flexibility and accessibility since last year, when it released a white paper titled “3rd-Generation BI: Unlocking All the Possibility in Your Data”.

The document described Qlik’s vision for the third generation of BI and analytics as democratising data to make all of it accessible to every user in the organisation, making analytics a part of all decision-making and machine learning augmenting human intuition.

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Fisher argues that the Qlik platform’s ability to work across a diverse cloud environment allows customers to make independent choices about their own data and analytics in a way that Qlik’s bigger competitors will struggle to achieve.

“More and more, we see customers and organisations looking to put data into the hands of more users, so the notion of embedding analytics into the business process has become very key. And that historically hasn't been done very well in previous generations,” he said.

“We're also seeing that as they try to do that they're coming up against cultural and data literacy issues in terms of how data is used and the confidence that people have with data.”

According to Fisher, Qlik’s combination of machine learning to ease access to analytics, data integration capabilities boosted by last year’s acquisition of Attunity, and commitment to education through initiatives such as the Data Literacy Project have made the company uniquely capable of fulfilling these desires.

“Our ability - which didn't exist in previous generations - is to connect the analytics strategy to the data strategy,” he said. “That really allows us then to help those organisations manage, move, retain ownership of data, and then make that seamlessly available for the analytic environment. And again, previous generations of BI and analytics really didn't bring the data and the analytics strategy together, they kind of isolated them. What Qlik has done with our acquisition of Attunity, for example, is to really ensure that those are two independent but also connected strategies for customers.”

History repeating?

Fisher compared the recent spate of deals to those that took place in 2007, when SAP, Oracle and IBM acquired Business Objects, Hyperion and Cognos respectively, signalling the end of the first generation of BI and analytics solutions.

He believes those deals were driven by a desire to lock up as much customer data as possible into the companies’ own on-premise platforms. This time it’s the cloud platforms trying to take control of the data, which could reduce customer choice and control of their own data.

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 “I think what we're seeing is this notion of [them] wanting to bring as much data as possible into our cloud platforms, because that's how the cloud platforms ultimately monetise themselves, and analytics is a great way to pull that data forwards,” he said.

“There's a bigger business strategy that is ultimately at play here. And while we work with all of the cloud platforms, we believe the customers need the value of ongoing choice and need to own their data as they go through that process.”

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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