Infographing the QlikView BI Platform
We recently had the opportunity to host a booth at the QlikView Technology Summit held on May 13 at the Dallas Westin Galleria. Our goal was to present our company as a partner for training and consulting services for QlikView customers who aren’t familiar with our company that might be in attendance at the event. To boost our visibility, I decided to design a handout poster highlighting QlikView’s strengths as a complete system for driving business decisions through a process of integrating data from multiple corporate systems, creating analytics from that data to support decisions, then integrating those decisions back into the business systems full-circle. Our final version turned out well for a first version, and we plan to add more to it going forward. In this post, I’ll share our approach to creating the infographic along with any insights learned.
Download the infographic as PDF (8 MB)
Design a poster-sized infographic depicting how QlikView is used and adds value in an enterprise context. Specifically, the lifecycle from transactions to data to information to analytics or “strategic data lifecycle”, with QlikView concepts and components overlaid. Target audience should be QlikView developers but typical use case for first version is as a useful map for developers to show end users and internal customers QlikView concepts.
Specific topics and components made up the following requirements for our infographic:
- Show the Strategic Data Life Cycle of data at a high level, i.e. external customers > business data systems > analytics > decisions etc..
- Highlight QlikView BI Platform coverage, in the sense that many aspects of a BI system architecture are handled by QlikView, creating a sort of “BI system in a box”. Where applicable, specific modules such as the SalesForce Connector should be highlighted.
- Specific analytics scenarios and capabilities, such as interactive dashboards, alerts and ad-hoc queries.
Strategic Data Life Cycle
Before opening up the fancy tools (I used Adobe Illustrator,) I spent a good deal of time on the whiteboard with a co-worker, brainstorming ideas that would form the theme for the infographic and hopefully provide fodder for the details. What emerged from our discussion, shown in the image below, was a life cycle where data “evolves” from sales transactions (“Sales”), rightly positioned atop the diagram, to business data systems (“Data”), (more realistically a bi-directional flow), to systems where the data forms comprehensible structures (“Information”), and finally to systems where the information is used for inference or observation purposes (“Analytics”), thus driving decision-making. The cycle is completed by showing that Analytics leads back to Sales, presumably improving the company’s ability to sell more effectively.
In addition to showing the lifecycle, we sketched out iconic images that would depict typical concepts belonging to each phase of the lifecycle. Most of these didn’t make it into the final version, but perhaps they will be useful in a future project.
QlikView BI Platform Coverage
This idea was important because many BI practitioners who aren’t familiar with QlikView don’t realize that it is basically an entire “BI platform in a box”, which contrasts sharply with typical business intelligence systems where different components are handled by different specialized systems, often spread across multiple servers and software vendors and requiring specialized skill sets for each. For example, a typical corporate BI system might consist of a Microsoft SQL Server data warehouse, Informatica data integration, several dashboard and reporting suites, etc. We wanted to show that QlikView, though packaged under one installation and license, can actually fill the roles of multiple BI subsystems.
I have my favorites when it comes to providing end users with tools to work with their data, but I know I’ll miss the mark if I don’t first seek to understand the specific scenarios which are to be addressed. In terms of specific features and capabilities, software that is marketed as having analytics or business intelligence functionality has become about as open to interpretation as software that is marketed with functionality for “creating and editing documents”. The latter begs the question what kind of documents, which leads to an expected set of features that are geared toward word processing, graphic design, web pages, etc. Likewise, analytics and BI software is generally geared to deal with specific user requirements which are used in specific scenarios.
QlikView supports a surprisingly vast array of desktop use cases, including report generation, statistical analysis, ad-hoc discovery, alerting, scorecards, and budgeting and planning. In order to visually show these use cases, we came up with a thumbnail-like set of simple block diagrams, shown below:
We plan to use this as a base layer and add more information to it that would benefit developers in their daily jobs. This would be accomplished by filling in details for specific kinds of analytical activities, such as the specific techniques/functions that support predictive analytics.
If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jared Decker has over twelve years of experience in the IT industry and eight years of consulting experience focused exclusively on data warehousing and business intelligence. He has been instrumental in the successful delivery of many projects, enabling organizations to achieve improved operational effectiveness through the timely availability of critical decision-making information. His breadth of experience entails everything from business data analysis through design and system implementation. He received a B.S. in Management Information Systems from the University of Tampa and an M.B.A. from the University of Houston. Mr. Decker holds several technical certifications related to database and corporate performance management systems.
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