Analysts have remarked on QlikView's user-driven approach to BI, which focuses on ease-of-use for both IT professionals and non-technical users. The suite also differentiates itself from other BI platforms by being wholly based on an in-memory data store. By utilising in-memory, as opposed to traditional disk storage, the BI application can refresh data in real time to support operational BI environments such as monitoring financial transactions.
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QlikTech's main in-memory BI competes with Microsoft SQL Server, PowerPivot, IBM Cognos Express and SAP BusinessObjects Explorer.
QlikView, which is currently on version 10, comes with a set of integrated BI tools designed to create highly interactive applications, dashboards and reports. One of its strengths is that it can combine data from disparate sources, including Oracle, SAP, Salesforce.com, SQL Server and Excel.
It then provides associative search facilities, which the supplier likens to Google's Instant Search, with the interface highlighting significant relationships in the data. Thirdly, the product offers extensive data visualisation via expandable 2D and 3D charts, tables and graphs.
According to analysts, data visualisation is one of the main features of the platform. During the MP expenses scandal, QlikTech developed a demo application that allowed people to visualise and analyse their MP's expenses. Steve Dark, an independent QlikView consultant, says: "At the time the scandal was unfolding, the data was being rolled out via QlikView on the web. In the intervening time there has been a huge surge in interest in and use of QlikView in the UK."
QlikView's strengths lie in its user-driven approach to BI, its ease of use, its intuitive interface and how "likable" the product is to use, says Rita Sallam, research director at Gartner.
But Gartner has a number of concerns about the platform. "QlikTech has no expansive product strategy beyond its current offering. While it has a roadmap for incremental improvements to its current product, QlikTech has not laid out a clear vision elucidating how it will maintain a sustainable competitive advantage," says Sallam.
"QlikView is increasingly seen as expensive - almost a third of its customers surveyed see this as its main barrier to wider use. Its pricing model often does not sit well with larger deployments to more users, nor does the investment in RAM required to support the increasing numbers of concurrent users," she adds.
And thirdly, while QlikView has a reputation for "blistering speed", Sallam says 11.6% of its customers reported poor performance as a problem they had encountered. Despite this, she adds: "The general perception of its customers is that QlikView still delivers among the best performance on the market."
The NHS - QlikView case study
According to QlikTech, more than 85 NHS trusts are using QlikView, including Cambridge University Hospitals, Newham University Hospital and Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital.
Gareth Goodier, CEO of Cambridge University Hospitals, says the NHS trust chose QlikView after tendering for a front-end system that could present all its management information. Managers and clinical professionals across the organisation use QlikView to detect operational inefficiencies, "from the board to the ward".
Goodier describes the software as fast, simple and easy to use. "We have invested less than £1m over four years in terms of the software. It has required very little staff time and has facilitated very significant improvements in patient care, the efficiency at which we deliver that patient care and our general productivity," he says.
Another NHS organisation, the North West NHS Collaborative Procurement Hub, deployed QlikView to consolidate data from 45 financial and purchasing systems - in a 12-week implementation. The Hub claims QlikView has delivered procurement savings of £42m and freed up hundreds of hours previously spent on manual reporting and analysis.
Company: Founded in Lund, Sweden, in 1993
Product: QlikTech QlikView
Features: Data integration and analysis, searching, visualisation, dashboards
Production deployments: 19,000 customers in more than 100 countries