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Monday, 20 October 2014 10:16

Making sense of data with Qlik Sense

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Qlik Sense provides flexible and easy to use analytics and visualisation in conjunction with "a well governed data set" .

As previously reported, Qlik Sense Desktop is a completely free visualisation program for Windows.

A demonstration by regional presales manager James Belsey showed iTWire just how easy it is to use Qlik Sense Desktop to explore data from a variety of sources. For example, electricity usage (from smart meter records) can be correlated with daily temperatures (from the Bureau of Meterology).

Another example showed how car specifications could be assembled in a spreadsheet and then explored in Qlik Sense Desktop - for instance, to display only those vehicles that include a particular combination of features - far more easily than that could be done in Excel.

In a corporate environment, the downside of Qlik Sense Desktop is that there's no control over the data used. So if two people perform the same analysis, one might use the current value of a certain figure while the other is still using superseded data, and then they waste time trying to determine which result is correct.

The same problem occurs with spreadsheets, hence the term 'Excel hell'.

So what Qlik Sense (as opposed to Qlik Sense Desktop) does is give users access to what Mr Belsey called "a well governed data set" they can analyse and visualise.

Both products use the same Qlik indexing engine that can read date from a wide range of sources including Excel, Oracle, Salesforce.com and Hadoop.

Unlike traditional BI products, Qlik Sense (released last month) does not impose a predetermined structure on the data. Rather, users can navigate through a 'map' of the assembled data as they wish.

Since Qlik Sense runs on a server and is accessed via a web browser, it can be used from practically any recent computer or device.

Qlik Sense is already in use at a variety of local organisations. "It's broadly applicable to anyone that has data," Mr Belsey said.

Melbourne Health uses it to analyse clinical variations between doctors, Westpac's BT operation found it saved 150 hours a month in reporting time (and $50,000 annually in IT costs), real estate firm Colliers uses it to provide clients with self-service access to data, and Fox Sports Pulse (online back-office functions for grassroots sports clubs and leagues) takes advantage of Qlik Sense to determine how well its various services are performing and to upsell services that a particular club may find useful.

Qlik's Visualise Your World conference is scheduled for 28 October in Sydney.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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