Qlik: Business Leadership in a Digital World

What makes Qlik ready for the digital future? The answer lies with its forward-looking belief that, in the digital age, leadership centrally revolves around employee’s willingness and ability to leverage on data to foster growth. We interviewed Qlik’s Global Product Marketing Vice President, James Fisher, to find out more about how they implement this in their day-to-day business activities and what they foresee for the digital future.

Faithful to its corporate beliefs, Qlik is headstrong in its bid to leverage on data for growth. Their secret? They plan their top 10 focuses at the start of each new year. This helps Qlik to take a macro view on what may impact their business in the coming year. To James Fisher, leadership is about giving the organisation a direction to work towards that optimises the opportunities of the future.

Come up with the right strategic direction

Before landing on the 10 areas of focus for the year, Qlik works to understand the situation on the ground. A specialised team is given the task of understanding customer needs, industry experts and business partners. They are dedicated to surveying and interviewing relevant stakeholders, and they do in-depth analysis to prepare for setting the yearly 10 focus areas.

Qlik also utilises Partner Advisory Councils (PAC) to collaborate and learn from each other. This is important because it allows the company to avoid taking too micro of a viewpoint. They get feedback and understand what drives value. They discuss what is impacting the market. Thus, this is an excellent opportunity to gain qualitative directional guidance on Qlik’s programmes and sales enablement tools. Qlik’s hunger to learn and grow is demonstrated by holding meaningful strategic conversations with external competitors to gather valuable qualitative guidance and drive their competitive advantage.

Humans are still key to decision making

With advancements in technology, will human talent gradually be displaced by machines? While leaders will need to strategise and decide the business focus given the digital future, Fisher also recognises the importance human capital has within an organisation.

Fisher foresees the increasing relevance of augmented intelligence and not artificial intelligence. There is a nuanced difference. Augmented intelligence focuses on how the winning combination is when machine learning and artificial intelligence can come together with human intuition to drive a really rich augmented experience. With Qlik ‘AI’, the engine, and the platform, will enhance human capabilities, rather than replace them.

While sophisticated AI can make decisions after analysing data patterns, the catch is that the decisions are only as good as the data that humans input into the programme. Furthermore, the evaluation of the data validity to eventually come to a cogent conclusion or business insight requires human intuition. Fisher notes that this cannot be replaced by machines. Thus, this choice of the word “augmented” reinforces the role human intelligence plays when using machine learning and deep learning algorithms to discover relationships and solve problems.

Qlik’s focus is on how they can deliver greater value to consumers through advancing analytics. They believe that machine learning and augmented intelligence play a critical role in the execution of these analytics strategies, both now and in the future. Their goal is to empower human decision making and make analysing huge amounts of data easier through advanced pattern recognition visualisation software.

Data literacy

Increasing data literacy is one of the best ways to empower human capital as we enter the fourth industrial revolution. People fear what they do not know and do not understand. Fisher believes that we need to put analytics in the hands (and heads) of more people – those who input and work with the data. There needs to be a shift in mind-set from believing that data analytics tools are an end destination or that operational workers will be displaced to a mind-set where we appreciate the complementary nature these tools have in the workplace.

Furthermore, data literacy will lead to differentiation and competitive advantage within companies and countries. The macro-level impact will only become more relevant. The question Fisher asks is: How can we put data analytics in the heart of the employee operation? To achieve this, he believes that people empowerment would provide employees the opportunity to realise the potential of data analytics. Leaders with foresight are needed to invest in human capital and to use data meaningfully to engage in business decision and insights.

Thus, Qlik Continuous Classroom is a huge part of the company’s push to reach out to a greater market. Essentially an on-demand, distance learning platform comprising more than 125 modules containing videos, exercises, and quizzes, it is an avenue to teach individuals at their own pace to solve problems using technology. Fisher hopes to embed analytics into education so that data will have a pertinent role in the world moving forward. If data literacy is a foundational part of students’ education, it will become a life skill. If this is the way digital natives in the coming generations think, it would be hugely advantageous to realise how imperative data analytics is in the future of business.

Increasing employee’s willingness and ability to leverage on data

Fisher highlights three key steps to decision-making in a digital age:

  1. Build analytics
  2. Build capacity to use data analytics (data literacy empowerment)
  3. Build a story and testimonial from the data analytics to highlight value and accelerate outcomes

He believes that it is critical for business leaders to think about the role data analytics play in their individual role and their team’s role. Fisher encourages leaders to think about how they can perform their role given the digital tools available, to yield more insightful business decisions. 



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