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Charting New Ground With QlikView

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#BusinessDiscovery – How Rackspace Uses QlikView To See Our Customers Like Never Before

I’ve never been asked to speak at a conference before. During my time on stage at the recent QlikView Business Discovery Tour, I concentrated on a few things — not falling out of my chair, for one. But I also focused on keeping an eye on the timer as it checked off each of the 45 minutes I was allotted; and making sure to look intently at whomever else on the panel was speaking, as to look sincere and engaged.

I was nervous.

At Rackspace, we’ve used QlikView for about a year now. Our first dashboards looked plain bad, overly complicated and unintuitive. Since then we’ve really made large strides. Our latest dashboards allow us to view our customers on maps of the US and use charts (graphs, heat maps, forecasting models, etc.)  to visually dissect our install base like never before. Not to mention the speed. We’re delivering these dashboards on a weekly and monthly basis in rapid succession.

Howard Dresner led the panel. Dresner is a long time Gartner Research Fellow and all around bad-ass – he’s responsible for coining the term “Business Intelligence” to which I owe my occupation. As far as Business Intelligence goes, he’s one our celebrities. He led an awesome conversation about the paradigm shift in Business Intelligence in transferring the report-building emphasis onto the business in order to allow IT to concentrate on sustaining data. This shift becomes more evident each day at Rackspace as more and more business analysts adopt QlikView as their primary business discovery and analytics platform.

Since Rackspace brought on QlikView, about 1,900 have used the tool in some capacity across the company (close to 50 percent!). Just yesterday we had 138 individual Rackers pull up a dashboard. This number is several orders of magnitude greater than the roughly dozens of people who were using reporting daily last year. To boot, it’s crazy that I’m able to track which users are using which tools on which days and at what times. For the first time we’re able to track usage and adoption in an automated, painless way.

After our panel, Jeff Ma gave the keynote address. That name may right a bell with you – the book “Bringing Down the House” and the movie “21” were based on Jeff, an MIT grad. He gave a great talk about utilizing basic strategy in your life and work as you would in Blackjack. The goal is to take fear of loss or inaction out of the equation and play important decisions like you would a perfect hand of Blackjack. (Also, sometimes it’s ok to split 10s if the count is high enough).

Overall, I was thrilled and relieved when my panel was over. I didn’t fall off the stage and I believe Dresner even referred to me as poised. I’m also really excited about the future of Rackspace and QlikView. Their tools make me look good. During one of the QlikView presentations, their web server (hosted by a competitor) crashed and the presenters were unable to pull up their demos. It sounds to me like QlikView needs Rackspace as much as Rackspace needs QlikView. With Rackspace’s infrastructure, we can make sure they always look good too.

Follow me on Twitter @AndyQuirin

About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by Andy Quirin.

Andy Quirin is a Trinity University grad, a member of Geekdom and has been a Racker for three years. While at Rackspace, Andy has worked in Business Intelligence and Global Enterprise Solutions as an Analyst and Qlikview Evangelist as well as taught at Rackspace University. He is currently learning Mandarin and piano and is passionate about entrepreneurship, gaming and food around San Antonio.


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  • Karen Levy

    Thanks Andy! Great feedback and very intuitive responses to the fluid environment you are in!

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