Posted on: 2nd May 2018, 10:55 am
The Ometis team are now back in the UK and recovered from our jet-leg following last week’s Qlik Qonnections conference in Orlando – and we have a complete review of the four-day Qonnections event in our blog.
This was our 6th annual Qonnections event, so we are well placed to assess this year’s conference in comparison to others, and we are pleased to declare Qonnections 2018 was yet another triumph for Qlik!
This year unfolded inside a new venue but was still packed with the latest Qlik innovations, insights, product knowledge and expert opinion that we’ve come to expect from the world’s premier BI conference.
The Qonnections 2018 agenda had plenty of breakout sessions and included a keynote from Qlik’s new CEO, Mike Capone. Another highlight was the entertaining session with Freakonomics authors Stephen Dubner and Stephen Levitt titled ‘Think like a freak!’.
‘Qonnections 2018 was excellent,’ explains Ometis managing director Ross Greig. ‘We enjoyed the tweaked agenda, which included specific time allocated to exploring the expo rather than missing a breakout session to do this – which is what I have done in previous years.
‘There weren’t any major standing-ovation-style moments, just consistent, strong, product-feature demonstrations. This isn’t a bad thing, as there were very few gimmicks and just solid progress that seemed well thought-out and focused on the right topics.
‘I continue to notice the difference from previous years, when Qlik was a publicly-owned company. Back then they were very hesitant to show new product features or share information that may end up in the public domain. This is no longer the case now they’re privately-owned again,’ adds our MD.
Qonnections is always action-packed with sessions, but this year included a stronger focus on user adoption.
‘It felt like there were more breakout sessions this year’ notes Ometis’ sector manager Neil Thorne. ‘There was a big focus on data literacy, which is understandable given Qlik’s current campaign, but also a lot of information on the Insight Advisor and updates to the Partner Program.
‘Some new information that stood out for me was the ability to have one license for the Qlik platform, regardless of whether you’re a Qlik Sense or QlikView user – this will be very useful for customers not looking to switch straightaway,’ adds Neil.
Qlik’s expansion plan
Qlik broadcast their expansion plans loud and clear at this year’s Qonnections and it was great to see their positive, forward-thinking approach continuing.
‘It was really positive to learn about Qlik’s push to capture more of the market share,’ says Ometis’ sales manager Andy Patrick.
‘There’s also a plan to deploy the Qlik platform on Linux through containers and micro-services and we learned how Qlik have dramatically reduced the time-to-insight for customers within the Qlik platform with better visual data prep and the new Cognitive Engine,’ adds Andy.
With the April 2018 release coming out only days before the event kicked off, it was no surprise most mentions of updates related to the upcoming June 2018 release.
‘Some of the new functionality in June, particularly around the Cognitive Engine and Insight Advisor was eye-catching,’ says Neil.
We can’t say too much but expect to see some more stand-out functionality in the June 2018 release, as we did with the April 2018 release. We can elaborate a little on the Cognitive Engine though, which received a very positive response.
‘The Cognitive Engine definitely captured my attention from a functionality point of view,’ explains Ometis’ pre-sales consultant Chris Lofthouse. ‘The Engine provides additional user support by automatically creating the best visualisations from the data selected – it will dramatically reduce the time required to build new dashboards. We’ll see a cut-down version in the next release as all the features we saw at Qonnections will be launched over the next year or so.’
We can mention a brand-new Qlik product launched at Qonnections – Qlik Core. Pricing is yet to be announced but anyone can get their hands on the Beta at http://qlikcore.com/. It is the Qlik Associative Engine (and nothing else) running in a Docker container, meaning it can be run on Linux and in highly-scalable ways. The functionality and integration with open source libraries was demonstrated at the conference by monitoring a static charity bike ride.
‘It was great to get hands on with Qlik Core at the conference and I’m pleased to see Qlik building an open source ecosystem around the Qlik Platform,’ says Alex Walker, Ometis’ service delivery manager.
‘Qlik now offers products that cover an even wider range of use cases from developers who just want to get on with coding through APIs with Qlik Core right through to enterprise admins who want a full client front-end & administration capability with Qlik Sense Enterprise. They’re really trying to get Qlik’s key strength – it’s associative engine – into the hands of as many people as possible and see what they can achieve with it,’ adds Alex.
Future of Qlik products
As is customary at software conferences, we get to see a sneak-peak of features that are coming down-the-line, but as Qlik CEO Mike Capone was keen to explain – any functionality shown during Qonnections should make it into a final release.
‘I liked the messaging around transparency from Qlik – it felt genuine,’ explains Ometis MD, Ross. ‘The directive from Mike Capone that they will only consider showing functionality that has a very strong chance to make it into a release in 2018 is a good idea. At previous events we’ve seen several features demonstrated that either never appear or appear in a different form a couple of years later. I took a lot of confidence from the approach taken by the new leadership team at Qlik.
‘For me, some of the stand-out sessions were around Data Literacy. Over the last few months we’ve been discussing internally the need to assist our clients more in this area and this was reiterated at Qonnections. Many companies know they have a need for better data analysis, but they don’t always consider the increased need for data literacy that goes alongside that. There’s no point in building the analysis if users struggle to understand, interact or engage with it correctly. It has re-confirmed my thinking in this area and I’ll be looking for ways we can help our clients with their data strategy and how to develop their internal data literacy skills.’
All-in-all it was another hugely engaging Qonnections that the team have left in a more knowledgeable and informed state than when we arrived. This is obviously to be expected but there were a couple of things that would improve the Qonnections experience for us at Ometis next year.
‘There are three main things for me that would improve Qonnections even further,’ explains Ross.
‘I’d like to see more of a UK presence there. The Ometis team made up about 20 per cent of the entire UK partner presence at Qonnections and there were only a handful of Qlik UK representatives in attendance. Networking with Qlik and our peers from the partner channel is an important part of why we attend. As a dedicated Qlik partner and Elite solutions provider I feel it’s our responsibility to keep abreast of all the latest information on behalf of our clients. Qonnections remains a key part of our strategy, but I can’t help but feel the rest of the UK partner channel isn’t as committed as Ometis.
‘There could also have been more deep-dive technical sessions. We attended many technical break-outs that provided good overview content, but in previous years there has been more detailed technical content at times. I understand Qlik have to cater for a wide audience but there could be more information available for those who are already experts in the Qlik Platform.
‘The final thing I’d like to have seen more of is marketing content. I saw very few marketing-focused sessions taking place while in previous years there has been a marketing track to follow but that was lacking this year.’
Qonnections always provides Ometis with the perfect excuse to catch-up with our technology partners and this year was no different. We were delighted to spend some time with NodeGraph and Narrative Sciences to name two but there were also some exciting new Qlik partners exhibiting their products.
‘It was great to see NodeGraph showcasing their data-lineage solution and the resultant GDPR capabilities of their product,’ says Andy.
‘The Narrative Science stand was always busy with users engaged by Narrative for Qlik’s ability to generate natural language descriptions of data sets – always a crowd-pleaser!
‘On behalf of our customers we’re constantly evaluating the market for complementary products that can help support a strategic Qlik deployment. We made some useful connections in the expo and will continue to review the solutions available.’
Now Qonnections is over, it’s time to digest the latest information and share the relevant news with our clients. Our next Qlik event will be the Qlik Sense Tour this summer but after that, we’ll be eagerly awaiting Qlik Qonnections 2019.