Modernizing Analytics – Customers Discuss their Journey at QlikWorld Online 2021

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The majority of organizations looking to accelerate value from data rightly focus on modernizing their approach to analytics. On that journey, many natural questions arise: How do I prevent disruption to my current applications? How do I migrate applications, and do I really need to convert them? Will moving to the cloud reduce my total cost of ownership (TCO)?

We assembled a panel of select customers at QlikWorld 2021 to address these topics and more, titled “Customer Success Stories from the Analytics Modernization Program.” The program is designed to help customers benefiting from the power of QlikView by expanding their analytics capabilities with the modern, governed, self-service capabilities of Qlik Sense.

During the panel, host Nicole Tamms, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Qlik, was joined by:

  • Stephen Graham, Enterprise Data Architect at the City of Vaughan, a municipality of approximately 300,000 people located in Ontario, Canada;
  • Rob Timm, Project Manager for the Center For Business Innovation at the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), the premier media artist labor union in the United States; and
  • Stephanie Robinson, Qlik BI Manager at JBS, the world’s second largest food company based in Brazil.

What’s Prompting the Move?

JBS was looking to modernize its overall analytics approach and landed on Qlik Sense, due to its ease-of-use, interactivity and extensive functionality. JBS already had a large QlikView footprint, which made the transition to Qlik Sense seamless and natural. Another key reason was the self-serve aspects of Qlik Sense: “It was really compelling. Theoretically, anyone can get into building a Qlik Sense app, even total beginners, and that was a huge selling point,” noted Robinson.

In SAG-AFTRA’s case, the “organization was looking to adopt the latest BI technologies and features,” remarked Timm. In addition, the self-service element that drove JBS’ interest in moving to Qlik Sense also played a significant role. “Self-service was a big consideration, as was having more frequent software updates and improvements, as well as the ability to reuse QlikView scripting and load data from established QVD files.” The simplicity and organic nature of the shift to Qlik Sense sealed the deal for Timm.

Graham, echoing the other panelists, praised the self-service offered by Qlik Sense. “Early on, we wanted self-service analytics, given our developing maturity around data management.” Analytics – and most especially self-service analytics where the entire organization is engaged in raising its data literacy – is at the heart of Vaughan’s strategic imperative to be an evidence-based organization, particularly as it is creating and consuming data from 40 different lines of business across the city.

The Adoption Journey & Strategy

When JBS started its migration process in 2019, it had more than 250 QlikView apps. Through 2020, more than 50 percent of those apps were moved into Qlik Sense. “We’re really made leaps and bounds in transitioning our applications; I’m very proud at the pace we’ve been able to keep,” remarked Robinson. Part of that pacing has been driven by a heavy reliance on training. With a team of five, Robinson knew her group couldn’t possibly rebuild over 250 apps. They instead developed a robust training program to empower employees to be their own developers, which, in turn, would increase the user base. The program includes live sessions twice a year, frequent virtual trainings, deep dives into more complex analytics issues, as well as partnering with Qlik via Continuous Classroom. Adoption has been steadily growing – when Robison started out with Qlik Sense they had only 20 users. Now, JBS has more than 1,000 employees using Qlik Sense, with approximately 120 developers.

Timm is still in the earlier phases of deploying Qlik Sense within SAG-AFTRA, selecting which apps would be best suited for conversion. Timm wants to drive adoption by ensuring that users feel empowered, not hobbled, by data via a culture of data literacy. “Obviously, there’s a learning curve that comes with any new software,” remarked Timm. “By engendering a positive attitude about data, I feel confident that users will be able to create their own tables, charts and reports as they see fit and stop feeling the need to rely on developers.”

Likewise, at the City of Vaughan, the Qlik Sense journey is being driven by a focus on data literacy. “It’s an implicit strategic requirement, as data figures in just about everything everybody does,” noted Graham. The city has lines of business spanning licensing, building permits, engineering projects – not to mention snow removal, which is a serious concern during the winter months. And those lines of business must use, aggregate, and sift data to make informed decisions. With increased data literacy, the technical staff can spend less time manually processing, fixing and reporting data. Indeed, Graham wants to eliminate much of the manual work by developing a community of practice, which will be instrumental in sharing knowledge and information about analytics across the organization. A significant driver of Qlik Sense adoption is the recent introduction of an Objectives and Key Results (OKR) framework and other corporate performance measures that require metrics. The data management program, as with all other city programs, will be assessed on how they are building efficiencies and discovering savings in resource allocation, human capital and financial spend.

Advice for Qlik Customers Looking to Adopt Qlik Sense

According to Timm, having all your QVD files well in order is critical when you start the adoption process. With the QVD files, porting to Qlik Sense enables “developing on the frontend, right way, straight out of the box,” explained Timm.

Graham proposed that building toward organizational sustainability, centered around a Qlik Sense ecosystem, will help an organization’s adoption thrive. BI can sometimes be thought of as merely a sophisticated reporting tool; however, he “encourages users to think about Qlik Sense as a key component to your data program.” In addition, Graham recommends that other organizations that are in a similar state of maturity as the City of Vaughan need to be more proactive in finding ways to stimulate uptake and buy-in. This could mean creating information sharing forums, having fireside data dialogues and hosting analytics colloquia to ensure that data establishes itself as the lingua franca of the organization. He also recognizes that corporate leaders must be at the forefront of encouraging adoption, and that a data and analytics framework with Qlik Sense at the core should be developed to plan, execute and monitor the performance of business goals.

JBS’ Robinson emphasized the need to breakdown silos as much as possible. “Don’t make it so that only IT can touch the data,” she remarked. Having data as democratized as you can is crucial. Also, she underscored the need to have an open-door policy, even with total beginners who have never used the software. “If that means you need to spend an hour or so with them, walking them through the environment, that’s time well spent. Give them a tour, provide some data sources, and then tell them to go off and create.” The training does come in handy, but so does a personal touch.

Every journey begins with a first step. Moving to Qlik Sense has never been easier than with AMP, which enables QlikView customers to adopt Qlik Sense at their own pace without disrupting current QlikView applications, while reducing their TCO through SaaS. To learn more about the AMP program, click here.

Also, check out the AMP customer success panel from QlikWorld Online 2021.

Wanna get AMP'ed? Learn how @Qlik's #Analytics Modernization Program can help you up your #BI game.


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