I talked with Anthony Deighton of memory-centric BI vendor QlikTech for an hour and a half this afternoon. QlikTech is quite the success story, with disclosed 2007 revenue of $80 million, up 80% year over year, and confidential year-to-date 2008 figures that do not disappoint as a follow-on. And a look at the QlikTech’s QlikView product makes it easy to understand how this success might have come about.
Let me start by reviewing QlikTech’s technology, as best I understand it.
QlikTech’s product is called QlikView. It does business intelligence on in-memory data sets, also called QlikViews.
A major feature of the QlikView UI is flexible subsetting. For example, if you’re on a graph part of the UI, and you draw a rectangle around some of the data, the whole thing is refiltered so that you’ve now just selected the part you drew the box around. In QlikView 8.5 (new release), you can select multiple states at once, compare them, and so on. I gather this is what QlikTech is calling set analysis.
QlikTech estimates common compression on user data is 10X, a figure I find plausible, given that QlikView seems to have a relational, columnar data structure. (So compression vs. actual disk used for an Oracle or other standard database might be 50X or more.)
QlikTech refers to its data model as “associative.” However, despite asking multiple times, I was unable to understand more than a loose connection between QlikTech’s usage of the term and more standard uses of the term “associative” when discussing data models or data structures.
Specifically, when Anthony tried to explain the “associative” data model to me, he kept coming back to a pervasive QlikView UI feature: When you select a subset of data, you see not only the data in the set (with a white background) and your selection keys (with a green background), but (grayed out) the data that is not in the set. That seems like a cool feature, but I persistently fail to understand what’s “associative” about it.
Unfortunately, we did not have time for a serious discussion of data loading performance, nor of any resulting compromises in data freshness. However, to the extent QlikView is positioned against MOLAP (as opposed to straightforward relational BI) alternatives — well, MOLAP isn’t exactly great at sub-hour latency either.
You can see how the QlikView UI works in multiple examples at demo.qlikview.com. However, I’d caution against trying to use the AJAX versions in Firefox (things worked much better for me when I switched to the IE rendering engine).
What Anthony told me about customer and business trends is pretty much in line with what QlikTech has said before, and with general industry trends. Highlights included:
The United States is now QlikTech’s largest region, and its fastest-growing.
QlikTech sells direct in the US, UK, France, Germany/Austria, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. QlikView has been sold in 87 countries overall.
Indirect revenue is on its way up from 40% of the overall pie toward 50%. The biggest part of that is geographical. Also growing as a share of revenue are true OEMs (commonly vertical). Other kinds of resellers (commonly small and vertical) are holding steady as a share of revenue).
The average sales cycle is still 32-35 days, as QlikTech focuses strongly on small initial proof-of-concept sales. (If you want a freebie POC, you’re welcome to download the product and try it out yourself.)
Large enterprises are an increasing share of the QlikTech’s business, as opposed to its original mid-market focus. But QlikTech strongly resists enterprise-wide sales cycles, at least until there are a lot of successful QlikView projects already deployed.
- Central to QlikTech’s whole business model is that QlikView is fast to deploy. (Anthony claimed a few weeks are typical at smaller enterprises, a few months at larger ones.)
- Our other coverage of QlikTech and QlikView
- QlikView download and demo site
- QlikTech corporate site
- Jay Jakosky’s blog, which has a lot of technical posts about QlikView