Qlik is rebranding itself as a cloud-first, software-as-a-service (SaaS) analytics platform following a spate of acquisitions topped by last week's US$560 million purchase of Attunity, which added data integration capabilities to Qlik's self-service business intelligence (BI) product.
At Qlik Qonnections, the company's annual conference in Dallas, Texas, CEO Mike Capone claimed that his company's combination of data sourcing, preparation and analysis tools in a single platform had created a unique analytics offering.
"This is the industry's only end-to-end data platform," Capone said on the stage.
Capone's claim that Qlik is the first vendor that can take data from "raw to ready" would likely be disputed by rivals like Microsoft and Tableau, but David Bolton, Qlik's vice president of industry solutions, assured Computerworld UK that his company's holistic offering is unique in the industry.
"Tableau focuses predominantly on self-service BI - that's been their main tenet in the market. Their solution is about where the data starts going into a dashboard, then building out a visualisation and providing it to users, but they don't have the change data capture, the replication, or the feed coming out of the source systems. They would need to use another product to do that. And that's where we're going to be unique, because we can cover that entire breadth of capability.
"As for Microsoft, where they would position themselves competitively with Qlik Sense would be with something like Power BI or one of the visualisation capabilities. And they have a similar problem. Where the data begins going into analytics, in the run up to that, you would need to provision data warehouses, data marts, and probably OLAP cube structuring.
"It's a complex and expensive journey because of all the technology that's required to get to that point. There's a lot of tools that will be needed - and some of them are not even Microsoft - to start adding and building the same capability that we would have with Attunity. That's really where the difference is."
When private equity firm Thoma Bravo acquired Qlik for around $3 billion in 2016, Capone's predecessor as CEO, Lars Björk, assured investors that the new owners had "an excellent track record of investing in outstanding technology businesses for the long-term." That pledge has been fulfilled since Capone replaced Björk in January 2018.
Capone has overseen a trio of acquisitions in his brief time in the role, culminating when Qlik splashed out $560 million on Attunity this month. The data integration solution was added to the data management and cataloguing capabilities Qlik obtained with its 2018 purchase of Podium Data, now relaunched as Qlik Data Catalyst.
Boris Evelson, principal analyst at Forrester, argued that the Podium Data deal would help Qlik compete with its more established rivals by allowing it to offer a fully integrated BI and ETL platform.
"In a humble opinion of yours truly, this is further proof of a trend showing that BI buyers are increasingly seeking end-to-end platforms and solutions, rather than separate BI/ETL components that need to be integrated," Evelson said when the acquisition was announced.
Earlier this year, Qlik added conversational analytics to the platform, when it picked up Crunch Data, the developer of a chatbot that uses natural language processing to engage in dialogue with users. This ability to understand how real humans speak or type will play a key role in efforts to democratise data. According to Gartner, by 2020, 50 percent of analytical queries will be generated via search, NLP or voice, or will be automatically generated.
These three companies have allowed Qlik to claim that it now offers an end-to-end data platform that covers data integration, management, cataloguing and analytics in a single system that brings scattered data together while supporting compliance with a tightening regulatory landscape.
Qlik will hope the shopping spree helps the company cash in on the analytics boom. According to Dara Bridge Market research, the BI market is expected to rise from an estimated value of $20.4 billion in 2018 to a projected value of $42.6 billion by 2026.
Capone was keen to reassure customers that while the industry is shifting towards SaaS and cloud, Qlik will continue to support other deployment options, all available under a single subscription licensing model.
"We are moving to a cloud/SaaS-first business, but let me be clear: this doesn't mean cloud-only," he said. "We are not abandoning our multi-cloud architecture. If you want to deploy on premise, that's great. If you want to deploy on public/private cloud, that's great. If you want to deploy in our cloud 100 percent that's great too. Any combination of those things that you can think of, we will support."
He promised that Qlik will help customers scale and migrate to the cloud on their schedules.
"We want to do this with you, not to you," he said. "With cloud, there's a little bit of inevitability to it. I don't think anybody in this room can argue that for more and more businesses, more and more and decisions are taking place in the cloud. That doesn't mean you have to do jump there overnight."
Capone expressed a similar sentiment on the future of its 'guided analytics' product QlikView. Over time, he wants customers to move to the more self-serve Qlik Sense, but there is no intention to force them to migrate yet.
To ease the transition, Qlik has introduced a unified license view for QlikView and Qlik Sense, links from Qlik Sense to QlikView, dual-use licensing, and QlikView-like functionality in Qlik Sense.
"The message I want to leave you with is that we're launching this offering and we're really excited about it, but that said, we're not changing our position that we will do business with you the way you want to do business with us," he said.