In today’s world of readily available apps, whether on your phone or a cloud service, consumers do not expect a lot of training before starting to use them. Apps are designed to be intuitive and lead you through them in the way that you would expect them to work – as it relates to the purpose of the app. Same is true with analytical applications. The best ones are intuitive – they look familiar and are intuitive to navigate
So, what does this have to do with extensions and Qlik?
In talking with Damien Trippeda, a Senior Consultant who has been working with Qlik for over eight years, extensions are Qlik Sense’s solution to help an organization make their analytical applications more intuitive, which in turn leads to more people using them. Same is true of web development that incorporates analytics into other software solutions. And the benefit of more people using analytical apps means they are naturally going to be making better business decisions based on data, which is exactly why you invested in an analytical platform in the first place.
So, extensions are your friend, right?
Well, they should be. Unfortunately, according to Damien, there are a couple negatives, most of which are often overblown and perceived as impassable challenges. Even Damien, at first, pushed back at using extensions for similar reasons.
One, that a company needs some additional skills beyond Qlik to create or modify extensions. However, as Damian learned through his own experience, anyone with the ability to develop a Qlik application can learn these skills in a relatively short period of time, at least enough to modify and maintain extensions. And these are reusable skills. Not only can they be used to modify and maintain other extensions, but can be used to embed Qlik in other software solutions or help build most companies’ internal websites which more and more companies are doing. So, big challenge? Maybe not.
Two, some raise the concern that using an extension creates a security risk. According to Damien, extensions basically do the following:
An extension may use external calls to manipulate or re-render the data, but the data itself never leaves the app. So, is there a security risk? In properly built extensions, doesn’t appear to be.
Three, and the one I hear most often, that once an extension is used, it may not work when you upgrade to the next release of Qlik. This is true, just like customizing any software solution is something to think about whenever going through an upgrade. However, the advent of this new world of extensions has brought to life a whole new business for extension vendors. Now you can take advantage of an endless number of developers coming up with innovative ways to visualize your data, and even better, they are providing support for those same extensions for future upgrades. Will this be true for all extensions? Not yet, but this new business will continue to grow, and as it does, another concern is resolved.
So, friend or foe?
At the moment, using extensions may still provide some challenges, but I guess the moral of this story is (and what Damien learned), those challenges are becoming less and less a problem. And even while these small challenges may exist, weighing the benefits of having applications that delight your end users may more than make up for them.
To learn more about how to get the most out of Qlik and using extensions, please feel free to contact us at qlik.com/consulting.