Uppsala Ambulance, Dagens Nyheter favour Swedish-born QlikView for BI

Sweden has played a big part in data visualisation tools. QlikTech, NComVA and Tibco Spotfire have roots there. Uppsala Ambulance and the Dagens Nyheter newspaper are QlikView users

QlikTech’s business intelligence software QlikView is popular among Nordic organisations. The ability to gather lots of different data in one place is the main plus point, according to one user.

Sweden plays a big part in the development of data visualisation technologies, according to Gartner principal analyst Dan Sommer, who specialises in business intelligence. 

Several developers of data visualisation technologies have their roots in the Nordic region, for example QlikTech, its recently acquired visualisation specialist NComVA and Tibco Spotfire. And Swede Hans Rosling, professor of international health, revolutionised storytelling with data visualisation.

“Rosling is also co-founder of the Gapminder Foundation, which developed the Trendalyzer software system, and his ideas have been taken up by all the data visualisation vendors worldwide,” says Sommer.

Despite this, Swedish and other Nordic organisations are not more avid users of data visualisation tools than other developed countries, according to Sommer. Nor do they have a unique position. US-based Tableau, one of QlikTech's main competitors, has also successfully evangelised the use of visualisation.

Tableau gets 85% of its revenue from the North American market, but has a strategy to expand in the Nordic region, according to Sommer. Today QlikTech is the totally dominating player on the Nordic market, with a very long list of customers, mostly in areas such as finance, medicine, retail, production, law enforcement and logistics.

Uppsala Ambulance plans and measures with QlikView

The ambulance service in the city of Uppsala, north of Stockholm, is one such user. QlikTech's QlikView helps the 230 person-strong organisation to measure productivity, plan staffing and follow up on political goals, according to Lars Westman, head of department at Uppsala Ambulance.

“With QlikView we can measure what we do in a new way. Not only do we get the number of missions and their priority, we can also apply different filters, such as time of day, which station, what kind of medical condition, and so on. And it's when we combine these different filters it gets really interesting,” says Westman.

For example, tests have been made with placing idle ambulances in areas where lots of incidents usually happen at a certain time.

“We can also make graphs that show how long each phase of a mission takes. That enables us to analyse the different parts of the workflow, and makes it easier for us to see where we can get faster and better,” says Westman.

With QlikView we can measure what we do in a new way

Lars Westman, Uppsala Ambulance

Uppsala Ambulance also makes simulations in QlikView, which lets the organisation know things such as what percentage of the 340,000 people in the catchment area could be reached within a certain number of minutes.

“This makes it possible for us to discuss if our goals are attainable with the resources we have, or if we have to relocate our resources, or even build a new station somewhere,” says Westman.

To be able to implement the data visualisation tool, the ambulance service first had to make the basic data better. Instead of relying on ordinary, text-based medical journals and unstructured data from the emergency call operator, they built a new system with predefined terms that would be easy to pick up for tools such as QlikView.

“It was a big job – it took about 1,000 man hours,” says Westman. He thinks it was money well spent and only sees pros with QlikView. “We have only used it for a year, and right now we have some problems due to a change of emergency call centre, but I can't really see any cons with QlikView. It's easy to work with for the management, since it doesn't require any training in statistics, and the staff are really pleased to get this new kind of feedback on their work.”

Dagens Nyheter newspaper uses QlikView to speed up decisions

Oskar Hedberg, head of IT development at Sweden's biggest morning paper Dagens Nyheter, also sees a lot of benefits with QlikView.

“Now we have our data easily accessible, which makes it possible for us to make quick decisions. That's a big difference compared to before we started using QlikView. Back then we had to tell people they had to wait a day or two before we could deliver the analysis they asked for; today it's possible for us to do the job in 30 minutes,” says Hedberg.

QlikView makes it possible for us to make quick decisions

Oskar Hedberg, Dagens Nyheter

Another benefit is the possibility for the IT department to add or untack IT systems from QlikView without too much work. The only con Hedberg sees is that QlikView requires a lot of hardware.

“Today this is not as big of a problem as it was five years ago when we began using QlikView, since hardware has become cheaper. But the servers that run QlikView are our most expensive, and that's with a good margin. But we think it's worth it,” he says.

With about 400 employees, Dagens Nyheter uses QlikView in two main areas: customer analysis and continued customer monetisation. 

In customer relationship management (CRM), the data visualisation tool makes it possible to analyse every transaction the customer makes, which products she is using, revenue, and so on. What used to be 10 different reports is now in one place, and it's possible for the user to make new kinds of reports herself, without having to ask the IT department for help.

“The CRM users are analysts, salespeople, managers and buyers. When it comes to financial management information, QlikView is mainly used by controllers for classical book-keeping follow-up: forecasts, changes in forecasts, budgets and so on,” says Hedberg.

The most important business problem being addressed by the use of QlikView is that a lot of different data, which previously had to be obtained from different places, is now gathered in one place, according to Hedberg. He also sees the possibility for the users to tweak and improve the applications the IT department delivers as important.

“The possibility to make graphic presentations – with maps, graphs, tables and javascript objects – is also important. For example, we have integrated with Google maps to visualise volume and revenue performance for single-copy outlets,” he says.

The initial setup of QlikView took about a year for customer analysis and about a month for economic follow-up. The big difference in time is due to the bigger complexity in the underlying systems in CRM.

“QlikTech’s sales pitch is that QlikView is really easy to get started with – and it is. But if you want to do a more advanced analysis with more data sources, the setup becomes a pretty big project after all,” says Hedberg.

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