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Qlik bursts out of data visualization, makes play for automation

Sets sights on Salesforce and other SaaSy processes

Erstwhile data-visualisation specialist Qlik is taking a stab at process automation as it bids to link up data, analytics, and action – bringing it into the territory of the big software-as-a-service applications.

Qlik has announced something it calls Application Automation. Buzzwordy bells and whistles which include no-code user interface (UI); Native Qlik Cloud integration – using APIs to automate analytics; and Dynamic automation triggers – automating actions depending on present conditions in analytics.

Automation comes in two forms. The new system can automatically build new dashboards according to incoming business events detected in the analytics. But equally, those events could trigger actions in the applications themselves.

Qlik veep for innovation and design Elif Tutuk told The Reg: "Let's say the analytics picks up a change in the sales pipeline. The system can set up a new marketing campaign, pulling the relevant customers from [CRM application] Salesforce automatically; it can send emails, and then do other business processes."

Automation is based on APIs, rather than the screen-scraping approach of robotic process automation (RPA), another approach to these kind of problems.

The new product is a result of Qlik's expansion strategy, which has included the purchases of alerts and intelligent automation software maker RoxAI and data integration platform-as-a-service provider

One analyst was impressed with the effort, saying it could let business users do more for themselves without relying on IT and data engineering teams.

Philip Carnelley, associate veep for software and analytics research at IDC, said: "Years ago, Qlik was there with Tableau, Spotfire and TIBCO as one of the main visualization tools. It was all about better ways to look at your data and all about the front end."

But he said companies were now working with the software to integrate data flows from different applications behind the scenes, and then putting this in the hands of end users without requiring complex software and data engineering.

"It is quite a strong vision: trying to do a whole pipeline and build it in a one-stop shop. They are also a little bit different in offering a bit more investigation and exploration of data," Carnelley claimed.

But in its attempt to offer application automation, Qlik will come up against application vendors, which also have their own analytics and automation wares. Salesforce, for example, spent $15.7bn on data-viz company Tableau, has Mulesoft for integration, and splashed out on an automation tool earlier this year.

"Tableau and Qlik are head-to-head in many ways, but Qlik is not standing still," Carnelley said. "The automation... is really helpful in putting power in the hands of the users. They're just doing it slightly differently to someone like Tableau or even Google's Looker. But Qlik has done a huge amount on integration, bringing in SAP data, for example.

"Although Tableau is tightly integrated with Salesforce, once you start to bring in other data, then it's kind of an even playing field." ®

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