Qlik, a leading data management and analytics vendor, has long been a proponent of bringing analytics to a larger user audience by making data easier to access and analyze for value-adding insights. During January 2019, Qlik announced that it had acquired Crunch Data, a business focused on helping clients solve their analytics challenges with services and technology. One of these technologies, Crunch Data's conversational interface for Qlik, CrunchBot, is what is most interesting here. CrunchBot brings natural language interactions, a key feature of what Ovum calls "a human UI," to analytics – which is the next big step in bringing data-driven insights to a whole new audience of data consumers.
Qlik has grown rapidly as part of a wave of expansion to new users in enterprises, powered largely by offering an innovative visual approach to both data discovery and analysis. This wave of expansion is still underway, but has cooled somewhat as, while data became easier to consume, it still required a degree of technical savviness among its users. Often this savvy was found with business analysts who, although a large group, are small compared to the overall numbers of employees in enterprises who could benefit from using data-driven insight but are short on the skills or confidence to do so.
We are empowered by language for much of our interaction with the world around us. This human element makes the logic of natural language as the next big driver to the adoption of analytics in the enterprise compelling; it enables users to simply ask questions of the data rather than having to acquire new skills to work with the software. Its arrival now into the mainstream of enterprise software is the result of technology catching up to make it realistic. Put the logic and the technology together, and you have conversational analytics – Qlik's newly acquired capability in this space in the form of CrunchBot makes for a compellingly simple way for users new to analytics to get to answers without having to learn the technology.
Being able to ask questions is the first step, and making sure the right data is being used to answer it is vital, and for conversational analytics, is a key differentiator for Qlik via its QlikView Associative Difference search engine. In brief, the Qlik Associative engine unifies and indexes data sources automatically, surfacing relationships that otherwise may have been missed; for conversational analytics, this means questions are more likely to connect to the data required to find the right answers.
CrunchBot is a highly complementary fit for Qlik's existing capabilities and development trajectory. Qlik has made substantial investments in its platform over recent years; for example, bringing an open API framework that natively encourages connectivity of data and applications, and development of new capabilities atop them (this is how CrunchBot was developed). Qlik's visual experience, matched with a conversational interface, will allow users to engage with the platform more naturally – interacting with, and consuming information from it in a way that works best for them, regardless of skill level (and via popular enterprise collaboration products such as Slack and Salesforce Chatter).
CrunchBot is available now to Qlik Sense customers as a subscription add-on, and, while enterprises may deploy it for themselves, the current recommendation is that services from either Qlik or a partner are used. Longer term, Ovum expects to see more automated deployment options, and deeper integration with the Qlik platform – for example, connecting to other intelligent capabilities such as Qlik's cognitive engine that generates context-aware insights from data for users automatically – which would further elevate the utility of CrunchBot.
Building a Blueprint for the Data-Driven Enterprise, INT002-000197 (January 2019)
Tom M. Pringle, Head of Technology Research, Ovum