Qlik Extends Capabilities Of 'Self-Service' BI App, Offers Development Platform For Partners

Continuing to expand its lineup of business analytics software, Qlik Monday debuted the 2.0 release of its Qlik Sense software, added to its business intelligence cloud offerings, and launched a developer platform that channel partners can use to build custom analytical applications.

The wave of new software extends Qlik's business analytics lineup beyond QlikView, the company's first "guided analytics" software that remains its flagship product.

The news was delivered at Qonnections 2015, Qlik's channel partner conference being held this week in Dallas. Tuesday Qlik executives are expected to outline the details of a significant expansion of the company's channel program to the hundreds of attending solution providers.

[Related: Birst And Tableau Set Alliance, Develop Links between Their Business Analytics Software]

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Qlik is a rising star in the market for business analytics software that research firm Gartner puts at $14 billion and growing 8.7 percent annually. Qlik, which recorded sales growth of more than 18 percent in 2014 to $556.8 million, competes with established suppliers of business intelligence technology, including IBM, Oracle and SAP, as well as with newer companies such as Tableau, Birst and Salesforce.com's new Analytics Cloud.

"We intend to compete aggressively in this market," CEO Lars Bjork told the nearly 1,400 Qonnection attendees during a keynote speech Monday. "And with what we've seen so far, we win very well. Working together with all you partners, we can and we will take advantage of this great opportunity."

QlikView, currently on release 11, was Qlik's original business analytics software and remains the developer's biggest-selling product. Businesses use the software to create dashboards and analytical applications that guide users through the data discovery process. Release 12 of QlikView will ship later this year, said Arthur Lee, Qlik's vice president of analytics, during a keynote presentation.

Qlik Sense, launched in September, is a "self-service" business analytics system that gives users more power to create their own analytical charts and visualizations. Monday Qlik debuted Qlik Sense Enterprise 2.0, a major update of the product that will ship in June with a raft of new capabilities.

Qlik Sense Enterprise 2.0 includes Smart Data Load, a new visual data profiling capability for pulling data from disparate sources throughout an organization into a single analytical application. While data preparation remains largely an IT management function with many BI tools, Smart Data Load puts more of that functionality into users' hands, Lee said.

A new tool called Qlik DataMarket provides a way to pull information from external syndicated data sources into Qlik Sense and combine it with internal operational data and files for analysis.

With the new Qlik Cloud function, Qlik Sense applications can be shared with up to five individuals for free without their need to download Qlik Sense. And Qlik Sense can now print and export content to PDF documents and PowerPoint thanks to technology Qlik acquired when it purchased NPrinting in February.

Qlik Sense is a paradigm shift from QlikView, in part because it pushes more responsibility to business users and changes the role of IT. And that has made it a bit of a tough sell, said David Ensell, service delivery manager at Differentia, a Qlik channel partner based in Stokenchurch, U.K. "End users haven't really caught up with what's possible," he said in an interview at Qonnections.

Qlik Sense 2.0 will help change that, Ensell said, in part because it's a continued maturing of the technology and adds missing capabilities like pivot tables that caused some customers to hesitate. "It's a more grown-up offering now," he said, calling the new release more "compelling."

Customers will "stop thinking about reporting [and] start thinking about this as a decision-making platform," he said. "This is an integrated platform. You don't need to go anywhere else."

Partners and customers can use the new development system, Qlik Analytics Platform, to develop data-driven analytical applications. Qlik executives touted the opportunities it offers ISV partners to build analytical applications and OEM partners who can use it to embed analytical functionality within their software.

The platform, slated for general availability in June, incorporates the QIX associative data indexing engine -- the same technology that underlies Qlik Sense -- and its in-memory columnar data store. The platform also has extension APIs, a toolkit and a library of mobile-ready visualizations.

"We believe we have a large market opportunity. And more importantly, we believe we have a large joint opportunity with you," said Anthony Deighton, CTO and senior vice president of products, to the assembled partners when introducing Qlik's product road map.