Kathy Gibson reports – Modern, digital business is only possible if processes and decisions are informed by reliable, up-to-the-minute and trusted data.

The rapid move to the cloud has eased many of IT’s infrastructure challenges, but raised new issues when it comes to integrating, organising and analysing realtime data which is now being produced in many more locations, on a wide variety of applications, and needs to trigger actions across the enterprise.

Speaking at the Qlikworld conference in Johannesburg today, Tuna Yemisci, regional director: Middle East, Africa & East Med at Qlik, cites a PwC observation that organisations which don’t trust their information tend to waste time debating the data itself rather than discussing what the analytics means.

Companies in emerging markets like South Africa face the same challenges as the rest of the world, but also some unique issues of their own, he adds.

These include data quality, trends, risk profiles, infrastructure – a massive issue for South Africa and Africa – and issues associated with the data itself such as integration and governance.

“And, of course, the data analytics tools that you are using can be a challenge in themselves,” Yemisci says. “You need the right tool for the right business – and it needs to be easy to deploy and easy to use.”

The final challenge facing organisations is the scalability they need in the face or rapid digitalisation, and the difficulty of making the right investment decisions.

“We asked companies is they are reaping the benefits of their investments in data analytics,” Yemisci says. “And the result is that, no, many organisations are still  not getting the benefit, with a lot of money being wasted.

“We believe the issue is that there is a gap in how the data software landscape operates. On the one side you have data integration tools, on the other side the business intelligence (BI) platforms – and typically, these are two separate tools. And this is going to create more problems going forward.”

The problem is that great analytics tools are useless if the data can’t be trusted, Yemisci says. On the other side of the coin, there could be one, trusted, version of the truth but a lack of tools to use that data to make decisions

“So we aim to create the business value out of both sides of the equation,” Yemisci adds. “Customers need to be where the two things meet, with the best data and the best decision-making tools.”

Today, many companies still run passive BI systems, using preconfigured data that is not really governed by clients and has no action triggers. “This can give them just a stale dashboard, which is great for KPIs and reporting, but for little else.

“But what we want is for the data to be in realtime, with realtime governance, and able to utilise triggered actions so organisations are making the best use of their data.”

The analytics pipeline thus needs to start with connecting to multiple sources of data, ingesting and storing realtime updates from multiple sources.

The next step is to manage this data: to clean it, have governance, and make it analytics-ready by organising and cataloguing it.

Yemisci points out that Qlik’s acquisition of Talend means it can now give customers both on-premise, client-managed and online solutions to these data collection and management functions.

And this means that customers don’t have to make the difficult decisions about whether to opt for point solutions, legacy products, or cloud offerings; each of which requires its own sacrifices to be made.

“Qlik has now introduced a solution that brings together the benefits of all these environments,” Yemisci says.

The next step in the analytics pipeline is performing the analytics then acting on the value thus unlocked in the form of collaboration and embedding the results into processes and applications.

Yesterday, Qlik announced that it is making new investments in artificial intelligence for automated insights and natural language analytics, but Yemisci points out that customers can already gain value from the AI tools that are part of the current analytics engine available in Qlik Cloud.

Features that they can access today include automated analytics, data discovery, enterprise reporting, automated insights, natural language analytics and predictive analytics. They can also take intelligent action, capturing and sharing context from the data, people and system.

In addition, action can be initiated beyond the dashboard, so it happens at the time and place of the decision, whether the user is mobile, offline or online.

“Finally, insights can be used to trigger and action, also prompting human action when it’s needed with intelligent alerting and application automation.”

Yemisci explains that Qlik’s ultimate goal is to allow enterprises to traverse the analytics pipeline from raw data to informed action. “We aim to close the gap and help our customers to get more value out of trusted data.”

The company has invested heavily in making this goal possible, regardless of the platform that companies use.

As the hyperscalers ramp up their presence in the market, many companies are looking to modernise their data warehouses and move their analytics to the cloud. But deciding on which cloud to partner with, and while analytics platform to standardise on, is a daunting decision.

“At Qlik, we partner with all the hyperscalers and the leading cloud-based data platforms,” Yemisci says. “This means customers don’t have to be locked into a cloud provider or data platform. These things are less of a concern to us, because we cloud agnostic and connect to the most data sources.”

Qlik Cloud Data Integration offers data warehouse automation, CDC streaming and data lake creation on all clouds and platforms. It also integrates to the most-used relational database management systems (RDBMSs), SAP and various other apps.

“We believe we are the best at integrating multi-cloud,” Yemisci declates. “One promise is that we will maintain our product suite and will continue to invest in it. We will be independent and cloud-agnostic. We will support cloud, client-managed and hybrid environment. Connectivity is our number one priority; we will maintain a realtime CDC; and continue to invest in automation, augmented and generative AI.”