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January 25, 2017

Qlik Takes to the Cloud, Buys GeoAnalytics Firm

Qlik Technologies this week unveiled its first fully functional cloud-based BI offering, Qlik Sense Cloud Business Platform, with monthly subscriptions costing $25 per user. The Pennsylvania firm this month also completed its first major deal as a newly private company with the acquisition of Swedish geolocation analytics developer Idevio.

The launch of Qlik Sense Cloud Business Platform is notable for one major reason: it’s the first time the company is planning to make money selling BI software that runs in the cloud. Qlik has over 100,000 users of Qlik Sense Cloud Basic. But that free tool was really designed to help familiarize potential customers with Qlik’s brand of self-service data discovery and visualization.

“It’s a big area of focus for us,” Qlik CTO Anthony Deighton tells Datanami. “It’s clear that cloud is becoming a more accepted deployment model for BI.”

But don’t expect Qlik–which was bought by the private equity firm Thoma Bravo for about $3 billion last year following a shake-up in the BI market that also rattled rival Tableau Software–to put all its eggs in the cloud basket. Rather, a hybrid model is in order.

“It’s an approach that takes advantage of the on-premise capability as necessary,” Deighton explains. “This hybrid model is something that’s unique to Qlik. We come from a perspective of an on-premise implementation, and can bring to it that value. That is something we’re starting to see success in.”

The company is also gearing up to improve its offering within the area of geolocation analytics, sometimes called geoanalytics, with its acquisition of former business partner Idevio, which was located within walking distance of Qlik’s office in Lund, Sweden.

Idevio developed more advanced mapping features than you find in the Qlik Sense and Qlik View products out-of-the-box. This included the capability to develop maps that feature automatic geo-data lookup, thereby improving the communication of spatial information.

Idevio’s software also provided drill-down capabilities into individual points on a map, which can number into the many millions. It also offered a cloud-based service that let customers analyze geographical data alongside non-geo data, which was useful for things such as determining potential store locations, understanding the distribution of sales by zip code, or calculating delivery times.

These existing capabilities are all now available under Qlik GeoAnalytics, the name chosen for the product. As Deighton explains, that’s just the starting point for where Qlik plans to go.

“As we integrate these things more deeply into the calculation engine,” he says, “that’s where you start to see [new capabilities] that were only possible if you had access to our source code.”

The plan calls for a variety of improvements to be made, including enabling geolocation coding to be conducted as soon as data is loaded; to perform more advanced distance calculations; and to mesh more visualizations like bar charts as points onto a map.

Geolocation data has been a hot commodity of late, as a number of analytics firms have been building more advanced location data into their wares. The cresting wave of machine-generated data from the IoT and human-generated data from smart devices are two variables driving this dynamic.

In Qlik’s view, not all data is equal.  “Some data is special,” Deighton says. “We spent a lot time in previous releases looking at time as a dimension, because time is special.  But also our view is that geography is special [too].  Stuff happens in a place. Place has a kind of meaning.  And there’s significant business value to understanding location in a specific way. It’s about creating a special meaning around special kinds of data.”

Qlik will begin offering more advanced geolocation capabilities in the second half, possibly around the September time frame. This is just the beginning, Deighton says.  “The intention isn’t that we ship this and we’re done,” he says. “The intention is to continually build these capabilities.”

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