Donald Farmer: Three BI Trends that Matter

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Donald Farmer is a BI rock star. The minute people find out he’s in the building they seek him out and try to lure him into their meetings.

Donald Farmer is a BI rock star. The minute people find out he’s in the building they seek him out and try to lure him into their meetings. Sometimes it’s successful.  During an executive briefing day for our European system integrator partners last week in Amsterdam, we got an unexpected and precious hour of Donald’s time to share with the group his thoughts about the BI platforms market and QlikView’s role in it.

According to Donald, there are three things going on in the BI platforms market that affect QlikView customers and partners:

1. Businesses—and business software—are going social. With social Business Discovery, we’re not talking about an area of interest primarily to dataheads. We’re talking about something much bigger, that matters to more people: collaboration. Collaboration is essential to BI. And BI is, we’d argue, essential to collaboration because good business decisions of all kinds (strategic, tactical, and operational) tend to be driven by data and tend to involve more than just one person. (To learn more about the new social Business Discovery capabilities in QlikView 11, download the data sheet, “What’s New in QlikView 11” and the QlikView white paper, Social Business Discovery: Optimizing Decision Making.)

2. The definition of “enterprise” and “enterprise readiness” is changing. IT used to provide everything for the business user. But today, users are now providing their own technology. Donald asked how many of the executives in the room use laptops for work. Of course, all hands went up. He asked how many purchased those laptops ourselves. No hands. He then asked about iPads, and most executives in the room said they have one, and that they purchased it themselves. IT is transitioning from an organization that provides all the technology to business users to the group that enables people to work the way they want to. He used email as an example. IT provides business people with the data via Exchange or Lotus Domino, and the user chooses their email client of choice on the iPad. So in our view, enterprise readiness now includes enabling the enterprise to continue to move in this direction of self-service.

3. Numbers only matter when you have something to compare them to. QlikView as a Business Discovery platform enables associative analysis. Users can ask and answer their own streams of questions, on their own or in groups or teams. We sometimes say that QlikView works the way the human mind works, which is associatively. It fits in with the way people naturally do things. But there’s more to understanding numbers than association alone. Numbers mean nothing at all unless you have something to compare them to. The example Donald gave was, “A company made $250 million last quarter.” Is this good or bad? You only know if you can compare the $250 million to previous quarters. If last quarter the company made $100 million, the number is great. If it made $500 million, then not so much.  (To learn more about the new comparative analysis capabilities in QlikView 11, see this blog post and video, “QlikView Drives Home the Power of Comparison.”)

Oh – did I mention that Donald is now QlikTech’s VP of Product Management? Donald joined QlikTech about a year ago from Microsoft initially as QlikView Product Advocate. His transition to running product management is a very big deal for us. Donald has more than twenty years of experience in analytics and data management—including a long stint as the leader of Microsoft’s BI product teams. He oozes vision and expertise, and is a believer in QlikView’s ability to transform the way people derive insights and make decisions. Even though QlikView 11 isn’t even out of the gate yet, we already have exciting things to look forward to with future versions of QlikView.

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