Interview: Drew Clarke, VP of Products, Qlik Cloud

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Drew_Clarke_QlikInsideBIGDATA QONNECTIONS 2016 Coverage

insideBIGDATA was pleased to be on hand for the recent Qlik Qonnection 2016 conference in Orlando, Florida on May 1-4. We had the opportunity to sit down with Drew Clarke, Vice President of Products, Qlik Cloud to get a vibe for Qlik and how its solutions have evolved to the cloud. Drew is responsible for the product strategy and execution of Qlik Cloud. Prior to this position, he led the corporate and business development teams at Qlik. Highlights include the development and launch of Qlik Market and Qlik Cloud as well as the acquisitions of Vizubi (nPrinting), a reporting company; DataMarket, a cloud based data services company; NComVA, an advanced visualization company; and Expressor, a data management company. Prior to joining QlikTech, he has held corporate and field operating roles at IBM and Cognos, PTC and Siebel Systems. Before joining the technology industry, Drew served in the United States Army in various positions with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. He has a B.S. from the United States Military Academy and his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

Daniel – Managing Editor, insideBIGDATA

insideBIGDATA: Can you giive us an overview of Qlik’s evolution to the cloud

Drew Clarke: Our cloud journey started a little over a year ago when we started thinking about our users who are consuming data, how they’re using the data and we wanted to do it in a different way from a traditional BI where you have a central person design and publish out to a group of people. We wanted to think about the new citizen data scientists who are creating new data and insights.

How do you set up and allow people to gain those insights and share, like Dropbox, or share like Facebook and connect people with people – we started to design our cloud solution in that manner. We wanted to tap into the viral nature of today’s technology and as we started the cloud journey, we talked to a lot of different customers. We now have over 50,000 registered users in the cloud and it’s largely been an organic number, so you have a thousand plus people a week signing in and their first introduction to Qlik is not a press release, it’s not our marketing, but rather it’s a friend who says “Hey, I built this, come take a look at it.” They’ll receive an invite and they can get started; we see this network effect. Over a third of our 50,000 users come through somebody else.

What really surprised me was the global footprint of these citizen data scientists. For example, the number two country using Qlik Sense Cloud is Brazil. Thousands of users are from this country. When we rolled out Qlik Sense Cloud Plus, like Dropbox it has more space, larger application size, more shares, all for a small fee. We currently have people from over 23 countries subscribing. So it’s not a West Coast, Silicon Valley kind of American view. We have users from Ecuador, China, Chile, Sweden, Spain, and more.

insideBIGDATA: Can you characterize your typical user?

Drew Clarke: They range, and that’s been the fun part. Sitting down and looking who is using it, and then starting to get further insight around them has been very rewarding. When we see a heavy user, we ask “Why are you using it?” We’ll get university professors who are teaching a class, like from the University of Georgia – I was at Harvard Business School for a big data analytics course with visualization with a guest speaker. There are universities using it in Tokyo, all over the world, people are tapping into it. So that’s one group.

Another group of users are the classic IT, data guys. I talked to a person, one of two people in a small IT department at an architectural firm with 250 employees. He was looking for something to help with knowledge management, client engagement, utilization, costs, and he wanted a BI and analytics tool. He was looking at Qlik, Tableau, Birst, and other cloud solutions. His rule was he didn’t want to deal with on-premise software. He told me he wanted it to work out of the box, and be up to date. When I asked him what he thought about Qlik compared to the others, what he liked about Qlik was that it was in the cloud, and it was always up to date. He also liked the associative model – bringing different data sets together where you don’t need to know how to do a left outer join. This is for the lay user who doesn’t know how to model a data warehouse. And there is also a business benefit for the customer who doesn’t want to be in the business of creating reports for the business; doesn’t want to be a report author. I want to give them the library of data and assemble it however they want.  This is what the architectural firm IT guy liked this about Qlik. He compared us to Tableau – which in his words is a cool and pretty report builder, but he had to have a data model already – he needed to know what a left outer join is. So he’d have to hire somebody who knows something about data warehousing. The other part he didn’t like about Tableau was you have to keep going back and changing the original reports, for example “Can you answer the question, I’m looking at clients over a quarter, but now I want to do year-over-year;” that’s a change to the data model but with Qlik you don’t need to do that.

Another thing this gentleman pointed out was that with Tableau you have to download the desktop and then publish up into the cloud, and then to make changes you have to bring it back down. He also compared us to Birst, another cloud BI company, Domo, a pure-play cloud solution. In his words, those companies had the “first generation” kind of feeling BI with ETL, data warehouse, create your dashboard and report, publish out to many, and the solutions were very expensive with a minimum buy-in of 10s of thousands dollars and to just get started you had to agree to a long term contract because those products weren’t built on a modern cloud Dropbox kind of thinking. We’re using micro-services and container, but these other solutions are more of an instance-for-each-customer so it’s expensive. Once you’re up and running it can work, but how do you bring in new data sets and how flexible is it?

Those are examples of customers who’ve given me insights into the cloud platform that we’re building which is many-to-many, when you want to upgrade you can upgrade, you have the same experience in the cloud as on-premise. We wanted similar capabilities. You take Microsoft and PowerBI for example, and they’re doing a lot of great work, they’re spending a lot of time but their cloud desktop is a very different experience. You have some capabilities on the desktop that you don’t get in the cloud, and there are some on the cloud that you can’t get on the desktop. So for users, if they want to evolve their experience, they’ll experience things they can do, and others they can’t do.

When 3.0 launches later this quarter (June), Qlik Sense Cloud will have 3.0 in it. If you’re a Mac user like I am and you don’t want to use a Windows desktop you can drop in a couple of data sets, 10s of thousands of tows, or a 100 thousand rows and multiple tables, it just works.

insideBIGDATA: Are there any other points of differentiation between Qlik and Tableau?

Drew Clarke: Yes, our analytics engine with the associative model is just one way of arranging the data. We also do a compression and there are computational pieces that go on to make it fast. The standard we compete against is “Google Fast.” When I click on something, I want to see the result, I don’t want to wait. That’s a area of big feedback I get competitively as customers are blowing off of Tableau and moving to Qlik. They say it’s just too slow. When I bring in a new data dimension, it’s got to go back to the data warehouse to get it, bring it up, represent only to find that it’s not the way I want it to look, then you have to go back. Where Qlik is “see what you get” and that’s part of our speed, it goes with our engine, which is part of what differentiates us on that experience.

As another little tidbit – our very first customer of Qlik Sense Cloud was a Tableau customer from Saskatchewan, Canada. This wasn’t by design, but we launched in January of this year and someone started chatting with our online agent who asked if they had to download software (which Qlik does not require) .

insideBIGDATA: What is your average price point?

Drew Clarke: The good news is we have all kinds of pricing. Qlik Sense Cloud is free for an individual to get started and you can share with 5 people (network many-to-many model), with some limits on space. If you wanted to upgrade to unlimited sharing, everybody sees all the same things, it’s $20 per month for you, not $20 for each person you share with. Where value starts to come in is – I want to reload the data more frequently, daily, I don’t want everybody to see everything – sales people can see sales things, finance people can see finance things, East coast/West coast, however you want to separate it, and that’s governance.

insideBIGDATA: Can you provide an overview of Qlik the company?

Drew Clarke: We’re up to 2,500 employees. I’m based in Boston, and our engineering team, as with all our employees, is all over the world. We have a global footprint which makes it a fun part of working here. Qlik is a global company that has a global feel. We have customers in over 100 countries. Our partners help extend that reach. Our heritage is Europe. We were founded in Sweden roughly 20+ years ago. We went IPO 6 and a half years ago. I’ve been with the company 5 years. We’ve seen huge growth, not just with growth of the company, but the evolution of the products as the market has evolved with the explosion of big data, citizen scientists. With machine learning, we have partners that do more of the traditional data mining – its intellectually and emotionally fun.


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