I’ve returned from the 2019 Qlik Qonnections conference and now that I’m almost caught up, I’ll reflect on some of the major highlights from my perspective. When I wrote about Qonnections last year, I highlighted some of the major enhancements and some of the forthcoming tools and technologies that Qlik presented in the areas of data literacy, the intelligence in the product and the overall growth of the platform. This year, as I listened in the general sessions and the breakouts that I attended, I realize that they have delivered on many of these.
The first enhancement highlighted was that Qlik is now completely cloud-enabled. Users can run Qlik Sense Enterprise, create and manage apps and make these apps accessible to customers, all from a SaaS environment on a variety of platforms.
One of my favorite sessions was a hands-on opportunity to configure and work with the Qlik Insight Bot. Last year I saw a demo of this technology and was hoping that Qlik would make it ready for customer use in the next year and—they did. Qlik Bot is an NLP solution that you can tailor to understand your application’s data domain. This may sound like a typical NLP query interface, but it’s much more than that. The bot provides answers as part of a contextual conversation while leveraging the graphical and analytic capabilities of Qlik. It can dynamically create charts and other graphics as part of its answers and can also leverage visualizations that you’ve created. This Bot opens the door for enabling user interactions with Qlik analytics without using traditional interfaces and can help bridge the adoption and accessibility gap.
From an architect’s perspective, the Qlik Sense development environment has come a long way. I originally began using Qlikview (before Qlik Sense existed) and since moving to Qlik Sense have missed some of the layout and visualization capabilities that Qlikview had. Recent Qlik Sense releases have added many of these through making sheet layout and sizing more flexible, increasing the available visualization types available—through base visualization and the new bundles—and enhancing the editor. But, the one enhancement that fills a long-time need is the addition of Alternate States. This was a key capability of Qlikview and its addition to Qlik Sense now opens the door for developers to easily add “what-if” analysis and other comparison capabilities to their apps.
I’ve saved my favorite part for last. Elif Tutuk commanded the stage and quickly became the “most popular Qlik person” (apologies to all other “most popular Qlik persons”) when she discussed the Insight Advisor and Cognitive Engine. These features are the ones that in my opinion, for users, will separate Qlik Sense from all its competitors, now and in the longer term. The cognitive engine now creates insights based upon data contained in the app and presents working visualizations based upon these insights. The user can include any of these visualizations in the app, as-delivered, or can tailor them to better reflect their intentions. The Insight Advisor is sophisticated enough to learn from these changes and modify its logic and future suggestions accordingly. This isn’t just a template generator—It is a collaborative experience between the user and Qlik Sense—It is an example of leveraging AI to solve business problems
In addition to all the above, Qlik is laser-focused on promoting data literacy everywhere. As they educate their user community (and prospective user community) through webinars, road shows and social media, it’s clear that they are also listening—and delivering.
It’s been exciting to watch the product and the entire Qlik platform mature into a best in class solution for analytics. I’m looking forward to Qonnections next year. And finding out more about where Qlik will take us.