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Qlik takes on Tableau in data visualization

Posted by Edwin Willems on 06-Mar-2015 11:38:00
Edwin Willems
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Forgive me for stealing someone else’s title. Tribute to Cindi Howson. She is BI Scorecard Founder and advises clients on BI strategy and tool selection. She recently wrote an article in InformationWeek about Qlik’s move to take on Tableau in Data Visualization - with the introduction of Qlik Sense.

But hey, wasn’t it Tableau who is taking on Qlik?

First there was Qlik

Qlik started making its way into the Business Intelligence (BI) market back in 1993. A few Swedish guys had a brilliant idea of completely changing the way end users would access information to get business insight. Rather than using the traditional paradigms on which Business Objects (now SAP) and Cognos (now IBM) built their BI business, Qlik wanted to mimic the human brain through the introduction of a concept called associative search.

But then came Tableau

Ten years after, in 2003, a few researchers from Stanford University started a company, using research they had done on visualization techniques. And an IPO in 2013 gave them the funds to convince the world of the power of data visualization.

And there lies the difference

Qlik started from the perspective of the business user, giving him a completely new paradigm for analyzing information. At least it was (and still is) revolutionary in the BI market space, but familiar from a human perspective: our brain works with associations, not with ‘predefined access paths’.

Tableau on the other hand brought sex appeal to the BI market. They gave the IT department what they always had been lacking: good looking visualization techniques to get insight through a better presentation of data.

Icing on a cake … or a different cake?

Qlik has been growing market share through QlikView, their enterprise scale (associative) tool for developing dashboard applications, or ‘guided analytics’ as they call it. However this platform was never meant for self-service visualization. On the other hand, Tableau has done a pretty good job to open the market and create demand for a brand new category: self-service visualization.

And that’s exactly how Qlik wants to take on Tableau: provide –through Qlik Sense- self-service visualization to business users, but with the power of associative search that made Qlik what it is today through QlikView.

Let me put forward this provocative statement: can we claim that Tableau is icing on a cake (the cake being your data in its traditional form, Tableau the visualization), and Qlik Sense the combination of icing and a different kind of cake (the associative model)?

Is Self-Service visualization for you?

It depends. It depends on who in your company is in charge of what. How well your business users can and want to create their own dashboards and analytics. To what extent a data governance strategy is in place to enable and support self-service. And what level of insight you want to get, and the degree of flexibility you expect.

Topics: Qlik, BI Strategy