Category Archives: General

Will AI Replace Visual Analytics?

We just wrapped up a great Qlik Connect conference in Orlando. I was intrigued by the discussions of what AI may mean to the future of our industry. I found the panel with the AI Council especially stimulating, some great minds sharing their research and perspectives. I was especially struck by the common refrain that “we know AI will impact our businesses, but there is much unknown as to exactly what this will look like”.

I’m of the mind that if we don’t know, let’s start working through some thought experiments. A potential that came up for me is: Generative AI, specifically RAG and private Enterprise LLMs, could replace the visual analysis function of Qlik Apps.

In Qlik Apps we create Dashboard visualizations. These visualizations provide answers to known questions, e.g. “what is current total sales vs target?” We also generate reports, a broader, although still summary view of a fixed point in time, for metrics like financial health. Both of these functions use carefully curated and validated data and will continue to do so.

In my Qlik trainings I use a story where a Leader sees the Dashboard values are out of compliance and tasks a Manager or staff analyst to explain the discrepancy. Sales are not meeting target, why?

A well designed Qlik App contains sufficiently detailed data with additional sheets and charts — containing dimensions and detail beyond the dashboard sheet — to filter and sift the data and allow a user to answer the ad hoc “why” question.

Through interaction with the analysis charts, we may find that the contributions of one salesrep, “Joe”, is causing the non-compliance. If we take Joe out of the mix we are on target. It’s likely this type of insight — what dimension(s) are responsible for the non-compliance — can be determined by a machine agent and a visual chart to support the determination can be generated on the fly. We are seeing that today.

Joe has been a stellar performer in previous periods. What has changed and what action should we take?

Could a Gen AI assistant be useful in this case? I shopped this scenario with a number of respected colleagues at the conference. One thread was “Joe’s spouse recently died and that understandably has affected his performance. A staff analyst could uncover this fact but an AI assistant would not”.

Could AI be aware of this event? There might be a record in the Enterprise HR system. Or public records such as obituary notices may be available. Or perhaps the staff analyst reached out to Joe via Teams and Joe shared this information. Could an AI assistant interview Joe and elicit the same information?

At the conference there was lots of talk about “trust”, which I understood to generally mean trust in the validity of the data. Should we also be talking about how we will ensure that employee, customer and partner interactions with Enterprise AI are consistent with privacy policies and regulations? If “AI” asks me for information, am I confident the information I provide will be properly categorized and subjected to relevant privacy and usage policies?

Can the AI assistant recommend an action plan? At Qlik Connect we saw how Qlik Answers can process unstructured documents like HR benefit policies. Could the assistant determine that Joe is eligible for company paid grief counseling services and draft an email to Joe offering help?

Another action may be to temporarily double team some of Joe’s accounts to relieve pressure on Joe and ensure that customers are getting optimal service. The AI assistant could identify appropriate salesreps based on product lines, region or other criteria.

What about “hallucinations”? That is, totally wrong answers from the AI assistant. I don’t see that as much of an issue. The assistant is not taking action directly, it is merely advising the leader. Staff analysts can “hallucinate” as well. I’ve been schooled a few times myself when I’ve delivered non-sensical answers. Leaders know their business. Also, the use of Gen AI also does not necessarily eliminate the staff analyst role. It may be that the analyst is using the AI assistant and curating the results for the leader.

If Gen AI can identify causes, generate supporting visuals and recommend action, do we need analysis charts in the Qlik App? Do we need detail data in the app if AI is already looking at a broader set of data? My best understanding of RAG is yes, we will require some level of detail data to provide context. But does that data need to live in the Qlik app data model if we are not using it in charts?

What do think? Will Gen AI kill off analysis charts? How do you see Generative AI changing what we build and deliver with Qlik?

-Rob

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Charts from the 1900 Paris Exhibition

Summary: For the data viz nerds among us, I share my fascination with a groundbreaking data viz project at the 1900 Paris Exhibition.

In Tim Harford’s excellent book “The Data Detective: Ten Easy Rules to Make Sense of Statistics” the author mentions a set of infographics produced by W.E.B. Du Bois and assistants for the 1900 Paris Exhibition. The “Exhibition of American Negroes” is a powerful collection of photographs and data visualization that provide a strong counter to racist propaganda and ignorance of the time.

I encourage you to explore the entire contents of the exhibit, but in this post I’m going to highlight some of the data visualizations. You can browse the collection here, the charts are on the first two 100 entry grids.

Du Bois and his Atlanta University students made 63 hand-drawn diagrams. The data visualizations were created on presentation cardboard and conceived for a temporary installation at the fair. The original diagrams still exist and have been displayed in various museums.

The hand drawn nature of the charts makes them feel very personal and they tell their stories very well. I expect that the team was pushing the boundaries of data viz knowledge and technique of the time.

This multivariate diagram is one of my favorites

Link to larger size at Library of Congress

There are charts covering many aspects of African American life — professions, geography, income, property — and importantly showing change over time. This is a chart comparing marital status of African Americans to Germans. Why Germans? I’ll let you research that.

Link to larger image at Library of Congress

Measured against our current standards for data viz, we could make some criticisms about choices of shape and scale, but I don’t see any dishonesty. One of the design choices I found amusing was what to do when the bar size exceeded the available space. Wrap it!

Link to larger image at Library of Congress

I hope you find this bit of data viz history as fascinating as I do. I’ve provided some additional reading links below. Again, you can browse the collection at the Library of Congress. I’m curious to hear which visualizations you find most interesting and why.

Additional Reading

An excellent overview of the sociological context and impact of the exhibition: “W.E.B. Du Bois in Paris: The Exhibition That Shattered Myths About Black America” by Jacqueline Francis and Stephen G. Hall

WEbDuBois.org The 1900 Paris Exhibition index. List of sources and materials related to the exhibition.

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Motio Acquires QSDA Pro

I’m pleased to announce that I’ve joined forces with Motio, Inc, producers of the great DevOps tools Soterre and Gitoqlok. Motio has acquired my QSDA Pro product and I’m excited to combine our tools to provide a comprehensive platform for professional Qlik App development in Qlik Sense and Qlik SaaS. You can read the announcement here.

I will continue to lead the development of QSDA Pro, enhancing the product and bringing new superpowers to my customers in the integration with Soterre and Gitoqlok.

The QSDA Pro customer base is growing fast! To date hundreds of organizations have purchased QSDA Pro and are realizing the full benefits of the tool. More are joining every day and I’m excited to add Motio’s dedicated product support and admin teams to handle this growth.

You can continue to learn more and purchase QSDA Pro online .

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Announcing the Qlik Illuminati Class of 2021

You may have heard by now that the Qlik Luminary program has shifted to be more customer focused, which I think is good.

Those of us who were previously Qlik Luminaries are proud to have received the designation “Luminary Alumni” but some of us don’t  go so quietly.

That is  why we have formed the “Qlik Illuminati”, a shadowy cabal of former Luminaries.

As soon as this pandemic thing is over, we will be holding our first worldwide meeting in a secret  ice cave or mountain bunker somewhere (If you have an ice cave or mountain bunker available for rent, please contact our events coordinator).

Do you doubt our power and influence? Ever wonder why you see Mike Tarallo only on the “green screen”?  That’s because we abducted him and Ralf distilled Mike into pure code.  MikeBot now reads our scripts! We let physical Mike go  (we’re not brutes, we’re technicians) but an unfortunate side-effect of the distillation process is that Mike now seems unable to focus on a single topic for more than 60 seconds.

We have been incredibly successful in getting our “Q” symbol insinuated everywhere — in social media, signs at demonstrations, footage  on the nightly news. Everywhere.

The “R” users think we’re crazy — they think they are the real deal. But we know that Q are the rational ones.

I bet you’re looking for a list of Q Illuminati members. Sorry I can’t share that with you. We are a shadowy organization. (Ralf, did I say Ralf? I meant Ralph! Oh well…)

Yours Truly,
Q

 

Who started this April 1 foolery anyways?

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Web Dev for Qlik Devs in Atlanta

Here’s an opportunity to fast track your Qlik team in using Qlik Sense APIs to create extensions, mashups, portal integrations and custom content pages that leverage data and visualizations from Qlik Sense.

In this four-day hands-on course you will learn:

  • The fundamentals of HTML/Javascript/CSS as they apply to QS Development and how to get started with popular frameworks and libraries including bootstrap, enigma.js and picasso.js.
  • Creating Visualization Extensions.
  • The differences and use cases for the various QS APIs e.g. Capability, Visualization, Engine.
  • Key QS API concepts such as the generic object model.
  • Connecting to the QIX engine to retrieve existing content or generate aggregations (hypercubes) on the fly.
  • Visualizing data using third party libraries.
  • Using Qlik javascript libraries picasso.js and enigma.js.

Students will come away with example code and completed exercises giving them the confidence to move ahead on their own.

No prior experience with web programming is required as the course will provide an intro to web dev technologies and how they are used in Qlik Sense Web Development.

Even if you don’t have a specific project in mind, I recommend taking this course to understand the power and potential of the QS APIs.  You’ll be surprised and inspired!

The instructor for this course is Rob Wunderlich, a well-known and respected Qlik Consultant and Trainer, Qlik Luminary and publisher of QlikCookbook.com. For more information on the course please contact rob@robwunderlich.com

Cost for the four days is $2600 and includes all course materials and lunch each day. Register at http://qlikviewcookbook.com/registerAtlanta/

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Qonnections 2018 Reflections

I just wrapped up the week at Qonnections 2018.  I found it to be an inspiring conference and the most positive I’ve attended in years.

What was inspiring?  The cognitive insights demo was fantastic.  This is the future of BI.  We have well understood principles and algorithms recently formalized in the discipline of machine learning. Let’s incorporate them in the tool.   If the goal of data visualization is to amplify cognition of data, then I would say cognitive insights is to visualization as visualization is to data.

On the technical front, the previews and demos of elastic cloud and Qlik Core provided me the “aha” moment to understand how the Qlik Big Data Index will be possible.  I can see how many distributed indexing and aggregation engines can provide massively scalable access to a data lake.

The most exciting announcement to me wasn’t technical, but on the commercial side.  For a “small uptick in maintenance”,  QlikView  users will be entitled to use the same license for Qlik Sense.  To me this signals a new strategy for dealing with the two products going forward.  There was also a roundtable discussion on feature gap between the two products and the announcement that some level of pixel-perfect control will be available in Qlik Sense.

Taken together with main stage comments from CEO Mike Capone and CTO Mike Potter,  I’m seeing a needed correction to the “two product strategy” which so heavily favored Qlik Sense.  No one expects QlikView to live forever,  but loyal QlikView customers want to adopt a new product only when they see that it clearly benefits them.   Ideally we will see a converging product that blends the best features and lessons learned from both products.

-Rob

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Qonnections 2018

Are you going to Qonnections in Orlando April 23?   I’ll be there and presenting three breakout sessions.  In addition to checking in with colleagues and hearing about what’s new, here are some things I’m looking forward to:

  • Hearing from the new Leadership team
  • Qlik Core!
  • Learning more about subscription pricing
  • Freakonomics!

I’ll be presenting three technical breakout sessions.

148255 – Options and Levels for Qlik Sense Mashup Integration: Tuesday 10:30am  –  This session aims to introduce you to the possibilities for re-using Qlik Sense content and data in other applications such as web pages.  We’ll cover the very simple “codeless”  embedding using URLs all the way through data fetching and custom visualization using enigma.js.   This session is suitable for technical and management staff who want to understand the potential in mashups and get a measure of the effort involved.  My colleague Nick Webster will be joining me in this presentation.

148870 – Automated Testing of Qlik Applications:  Tuesday 3:00pm – A favorite of mine, I’ll be discussing and demonstrating the free regression testing tools from Qlik that allow you to completely automate the QA testing of your Qlik — both Qlik Sense and QlikView — applications.  I’ll also touch on some current trends in unit testing and operational monitoring.

148256 – QlikView Document Performance Tuning Using Document Analyzer:  Thursday 9:30am – Document Analyzer (DA) is a popular free tool that can be used to examine and improve the performance of a QlikView document.  In this session I’ll be showing the tool and my typical approach to improving the response time of a specific document.  Admittedly,  Document Analyzer has little documentation so consider this your DA training session. If you’ve never seen DA,  Dalton Ruer, aka @QlikDork recently produced a  DA intro video.

Other sessions I hope I can make it to:  Nick Webster’s “Putting Qlik in a Mirror” – just for the wow factor;  Göran Sander’s sessions on Butler SOS and SenseOps;  Sessions on Qlik Core and View/Sense coexistence.  Sadly  I’m going to miss Speros Kokenes’ sessions because he’s scheduled at the same time as me.

I’ll also be hanging around in the Discovery Expo — look for the hat at the Masters Summit booth or elsewhere.

Hope to see you there!

-Rob

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Spring Holiday Recommendations

Summary: This post has nothing to do with Qlik. It’s a reach out to the community I have built over the years soliciting holiday recommendations.

I have a two week holiday break between the Masters Summit for Qlik in Prague 3 April and Qonnections 23 April.

My wife Linda favors warm so we are heading south.

Through my experience with this site and the greater Qlik Community,  I’ve been  blessed to travel and make  friends all over the world.  So now I’m reaching out to that larger community with a question that has nothing to do to with Qlik or BI.

Should we spend two weeks in Southern Spain or one week in Spain and another in Morocco?

I’m expecting to hear from my Portuguese, Greek and other friends as well 😉

Where would you go with those two weeks in April?

-Rob

 

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QViewer Acquisition

I’m pleased to announce that I’ve acquired the excellent QViewer tool from Dmitry Gudkov effective January 1.  I’ll be marketing, developing and supporting QViewer going forward.

QViewer has a stellar reputation as a must have tool for Qlik Developers.  I’m pleased to be taking over such a fine product.

This acquisition is one step in my plan to focus more on software development during 2018.  Stay tuned for other announcements during the year.

Existing licensed QViewer customers should email future support requests to support@panalyticsinc.com.

Happy New Year!

-Rob

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Is Data Beautiful? The Art of Adrien Segel

This past spring I enjoyed a glorious week of whitewater kayaking with Noah Weinstein at the incredible Otterbar Lodge on Northern California’s Salmon river.

Noah runs the Artists In Residence program at Autodesk’s Pier 9 Workshop in San Francisco.  Autodesk is a long time big QlikView customer and the Pier 9 Workshop is a working lab that demonstrates and tests practical applications of Autodesk products.

During downtime at Otterbar Lodge, Noah introduced me to the work of sculptor Adrien Segel.  Adrien sources data sets of observations from the natural world and transforms those data into beautiful, fascinating and challenging sculptures.

Adrien’s “Wind at Ravenswood Slough” project visualizes wind speed and direction over a 48 hour period at a single location. The Y-axis (vertical) represents time, the X-axis (length of the bars) represent speed — and here’s the advantage of a physical 3-D rendition — the Z-axis indicates wind direction.

Mount wind-at-ravenswood-pic1the finished sculpture  at the site where the data was collected and you have a deep understanding and delightfully personal relationship with data.  Brilliant!

 

 

 

 

Check out some of Adrien’s other projects like the  Snow Water Equivalent Cabinet  I found this dataset personally  interesting because of my love of rivers and river seasons.  Adrien takes a direct approach in mapping the data and the  result is a functional, fascinating  and intimate piece of furniture.

Can data be beautiful?  I think so.

-Rob

 

 

 

 

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