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Industry experts highlight the need to embrace analytics as a powerful tool for modern enterprise performance management

by Mike Jones 20/03/2019

Industry experts highlight the need to embrace analytics as a powerful tool for modern enterprise performance management. Leading data management consultancy Altius has a goal to transform the potential reporting capabilities and performance management of businesses. The data management experts want companies to move away from making vital decisions based on traditional processes and replace this methodology with an automated, machine-driven system that integrated innovative analytics that defines business goals.

Enterprise Resource Planning Finance System
All businesses need to monitor their performance and have information accessible to inform and enable employees to make the right decisions. Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) systems have been working on delivering these results, adding value to a company by supplying information and insights to predict future performance.
EPM systems, however, do have limitation and at present, still, require a significant amount of time required on data entry and gathering data before any results and analysis can be performed.

Integrating EPM and Analytics

More businesses are starting to integrate innovative systems to analyse data, capable of storing large volumes of data that is readily available for real-time analysis, providing multiple layers of detail and insights that beforehand were not available to a business.

Altius has the vision to integrate advanced analytics into an EPM system, providing more insights and a competitive advantage over other companies, producing an integrated analytical and management process from sourcing data through to advanced analytics.

Delivering accurate details on revenue

Providing clear and current details of revenue profiles can enable a management team to truly understand what impact their decisions and other factors are having on profitability. Analytical models can provide vital details on business products, linking revenue and cost analytics within an EPM system provides a clearer view into overall business profits.

The process of monitoring revenues can be monitored regularly enabling management to keep a constant check if there are any changes to revenue streams. In a situation where the system predicts a decline in revenue, further capital and funds can be supplemented towards sales and marketing efforts. This process can be completely managed by automated algorithms, avoiding any requirements from analysts collecting and building data reports.

Generating informed and strategic business decisions

Creating a singular integrated system, data and processes mean the correct information can be delivered at the appropriate time, enabling businesses to make informed decisions based on useful data. As Altius highlights, it is vital to define the difference between interesting data and useful data. For example, a data science algorithm providing forecasts on potential revenue is interesting. A report displaying the same revenue forecast and how this impacts the rest of the business and its revenue streams are useful data. A system that displays the same output and enables further modelling to be added to determine the best decision is the intended goal of data companies like Altius.

In the previous year, integrating these types of systems and processes required extensive development efforts. Today, however, modern technical systems, the associated implementation costs and total ownership costs are considerably lower than it was just a few years ago.

Altius points towards the main challenge not concerning technical implementation but more of a cultural change. Company executives need to completely trust analytics, the system and data created to really enhance the rate of strategic decisions.

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Integrating Business Intelligence can increase sales by over 20%, according to a new study

by Mike Jones 19/03/2019

According to a new study UK research company IQBlade, Business Intelligence adoption can result in a 24% increase in sales. The market intelligence provides announced the findings in its latest Tech Impact 2019 Report which focuses on the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 businesses. The overall goal of the report is to reveal the technologies with the biggest impact on the success of British businesses and comparing others that are not using new technology systems.

Data and Analytics Jobs

Businesses seeking to gain the edge over other competitors and continually grow successfully requires a complete understanding of their customers, partners, their competitors and what opportunities are available. The Tech Impact 2019 report investigates how technologies used by Fast Track 100 businesses are influencing their overall performance level.

The report includes:

A summary of the technologies used by companies within the UK
Technologies utilised by the fastest growing businesses in the UK
A detailed analysis of what strategies the fastest growing businesses are using compared to other UK companies.
Insight into key technology, its impact and an overall analysis
General profiles of the fastest growing companies and their associated technologies.

According to the report, average sales of businesses within Fast Track that utilise BI and data visualisation software was £39 million, compared to £24 million to companies that didn’t use the same technology. The study also showed that the average size of companies using data analytics was higher by nearly 100%. In total, just over 60% of fast track companies are currently using BI and data visualisation technology solutions. The overall percentage of fastest growing companies in the UK using these innovative tools is over three times higher than other general businesses in the UK.

Studies have proven that data analytics can create a competitive edge for businesses. Implementing the capabilities of analytics, along with a strong focus on innovative specialist tools are the driving forces behind creating a competitive advantage. Recent developments in technology, the progress of cloud analytics and distributed storage have further strengthened the case for implementing data analytics into a business. These advantages have created a wider adoption of analytics into wider industries.

The study also showed an 8% difference between companies utilising BI and other businesses that don’t over a three-year timescale. Fast Track businesses that do take advantage of this growing trend can experience on average a £15 million increase in sales every year. The report indicates that Progress Software is the most popular Business Intelligence tool used by fast track companies, with the integration of 26%. A further 14% are using Tableau Software, 8% are utilising Qlik and an additional 7% have implemented IBM Cognos.

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Research suggests Host Analytics can provide 400% ROI and over $1 million in benefits over three years

by Mike Jones 13/03/2019

Leading EPM provider, Host Analytics allows customers to improve productivity, efficiency and the number of opportunities available to a business.

EPM

The cloud-based EPM solutions provider recently released a study called ‘The Total Economic Impact of Host Analytics’, delivered by independent research business, Forester Consulting. The results suggested that Host Analytics provides $1.2 million in benefits over a three year period a total return on investment measuring nearly 400%.

The study covered a range of businesses, with many highlighting the considerable value they have gained from using Host Analytics. The platform has enabled many businesses to deliver new initiatives that generally would involve the support of five additional professionals. The equivalent increased productivity and financial planning potential and analysis of staff measures to over $730 in savings over a three year period.

Aside from the benefits to the finance side of a business, the research showed a considerable impact on overall business performance, with improvements in operating income due to enhanced decision making. One respondent highlighted that the believed the biggest change was a shift in their focus from looking behind to looking forward to the future.

Ron Baden, chief executive officer at Host Analytics explains that they always believed the platform provided great value to customers and the latest study has placed a specific value to support this claim. Baden highlights that many financial professionals are seeking to improve and modernise how they perform jobs and to increase collaboration with other colleagues, and this is exactly what Host Analytics provides.

For this study, Forrester Consulting provided its Total Economic Impact methodology, interviewing active Host Analytics customers to measure cost, benefit, flexibility and risk factors that influence overall investment choices. Survey respondents were selected from a range of industries, from social media to manufacturing industries.

The study revealed several other significant benefits of Host Analytics:

Improved Scenario Planning – The system offers improved integration of data sources, enhance measurement of business spend and other features which support better scenario planning.

Efficient book closing – Host Analytics allows businesses to close their accounts quicker at the end of financial periods, opening up available staff time to focus on planning, process improvement and other critical business activities.

Retaining Employees – Host Analytics removes the time and effort required within financial processes, resulting in improved job satisfaction.

The Total Economic Impact of Host Analytics study contains details of each business interviewed, the main challenges facing each business prior to implementing Host Analytics, and in-depth cost analysis along with the benefits and return on investment.

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Skills shortages and the challenges for businesses using data analytics

Oracle shows considerable SaaS growth in Australia

by Mike Jones 13/03/2019

The general manager for ERP/EPM SaaS at Oracle said their business has experienced 100% year on year growth within Australia.

Skills shortages and the challenges for businesses using data analytics

Just looking back a few years, Oracle’s SaaS customers were fairly small. Many businesses that were using Oracle SaaS were unable to afford the capital costs of having an on-site system.  Today, regular users of Oracle products are transferring from on-site premises to SaaS.

Whilst the business implement an ‘applications unlimited’ policy, referring to on-premises applications will trigger further development for the next few years, customers can enhance their systems by transferring to the Oracle Fusions SaaS platform.

John Leonard, General Manager of ERP/EPM SaaS explains that nearly every project is completed within a year, with many being delivering in under 8 months. Leonard also highlights the sheer expense of on-site upgrades, suggesting they can incur costs of nearly $20 million for larger businesses. Transferring to SaaS offers a low-risk alternative to potentially costly and risky upgrades. Due to regular features releases, SaaS enables simpler adoption of new technologies, including blockchain.

Leonard explains that back in 2012, most Oracle CRM customers were using on-site software but by 2016 many had transferred to SaaS. A similar transition is now occurring within HR and Finance software.

Australia is following in this path with an extensive list of local customers ranging from investment business QIC to fast food chain Hungry Jack’s implementing SaaS. To further support customers moving to Saas, Oracle provides an option enabling companies to utilise the consultancy operation of Oracle and customers pay on delivery.

ERP is a top priority for Oracle in regards to SaaS during the next year. Leonard explains that many SaaS competitors provide point solutions, but Oracle’s SaaS applications use the same codebase and data model. Leonard believes that companies are looking for a provider to includes the whole of their business, rather than one specific area.

A key advantage of SaaS is that it allows users to monitor their software without viewing customers data. This means users can analyse potential issues before customers notice and identify any trends and react appropriately. Leonard believes that SaaS is the fastest method to provide innovation to customers, offering a significant advantage over other competitors.

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Anaplan releases Third Quarter financial results

Mindstream Analytics gains platinum partner level status from OneStream

by Mike Jones 13/03/2019

OneStream Software confirmed this week that Mindstream Analytics had become a Platinum level implementation partner, highlighting their dedication to combining with OneStream and their strategy.

Anaplan releases Third Quarter financial results

OneStream Software offers an innovative CPM solution that integrates and simplifies financial processes, planning, reporting, analytics and the quality of financial data. The software can be utilised in the cloud or on-premise. The SmartCPM platform is the first of its kind to offer a solution for corporate standards and controls. The system enables businesses to report and plan at several levels within a single application without affecting corporate standards.

Alex Ladd, CEO of Mindstream Analytics explains that their business has made a considerable investment into training and their consultants are developing a process that combines the focus of OneStream’s innovative platform. Ladd highlights that it is great to see their efforts confirmed by being rewarded with the highly recognised reward of becoming a OneStream Platinum partner.

Mindstream Analytics consists of an award-winning team of consultants with years of experience in performance management implementations within planning, financial report forecasting, budgeting and analytics. Combining their technology skills, strong business experience and a carefully created methodology, MindStream has delivered maximum ROI for their clients from OneStream investments.

 

Craig Colby, the chief revenue officer of OneStream Software recently claimed how excited they were to confirm MindStream Analytics as a Platinum partner. Colby explains that this level is awarded specifically to partners who meet the highest standard and quality levels and have a record of providing the greatest solutions and value for customers. According to Colby, MindStream’s platinum status is a result of their skills, knowledge and experience of using OneStream SmartCPM solution to enhance financial decisions and improve insights for clients.

 

OneStream Software

OneStream Software offers a performance management solution that combines and simplifies planning, reporting, financial consolidation, analytics and the quality of financial data. With the option of being utilised on site or in the cloud, OneStream XF is one of the only solutions offering corporate standards and controls, enabling businesses to plan and report at multiple levels within a single application. The OneStream XF MarketPlace offers downloads that enable customers to enhance their CPM platform and meet the requirements within finance and operations industries.

 

Mindstream Analytics

Mindstream Analytics is a managed services consultancy that supports clients with improving their business performance and decision making. With years of experience in analytics and performance management, MindStream provides a range of services from financial planning and reporting to selecting the best software and implementing new services. Their AppCare Managed Services Support has maintained its place as the number one EPM solution for 4 years in the MSPmentor highest ranking of global service providers.

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Skills shortages and the challenges for businesses using data analytics

Changing to Oracle ERP Cloud transformed business performance at Cetera Financial

by Mike Jones 06/03/2019

Some users at Cetera were cautious of Oracle Saas platforms for ERP, EPM and HCM but have recognised the benefits of a single entry point, innovative planning and budgeting tools, along with standard Excel-based UIs.

Enterprise Resource Planning Finance System

Transforming existing conventional applications to a new and smaller range of integrated tools can be a cautious exercise for many businesses. Whilst many professionals prefer to maintain their traditional software, the benefits and simplicity of SaaS generally result in enhanced efficiency, winning over any sceptics and resulting in improved business performance.

US-based Cetera Financial Group, the main provider of services and technology for financial companies went through the process of implementing Oracle ERP Cloud for financials, accounts and procurement, and Oracle EPM Cloud for planning and budgeting.

Matthew Whitehead, vice president of financial planning and analysis at Cetera explained that the simple lack of custom features of new SaaS applications was a concern. Users questioned whether transferring from a familiar system into a perceived rigid system was a wise choice.

Cetera worked with implementation partners PwC to deliver a procedure to reduce customisation and ensure the business gained the best results from configuring Oracle ERP Cloud Software. The initial evaluation generated a range of questions such as why Cetera thinks they differ from the thousands of other installs that Oracle has performed over the years to create an efficient cloud solution.

In terms of Oracle EPM Cloud, Whitehead explains the issues were more pronounced due to the software forcing users into its financial frameworks and workforce planning. Cetera focused on selecting its main goals and financial modelling requirement to establish the EPM software’s key performance indicators.

The result? Cetera reduced its chart of accounts from the general ledger, enabling users to focus more on other accounts. Whitehead explains the system provided them with speed and flexibility in the capability to forecast, plan, report and measure continuously.

Cetera also transformed their existing planning and forecasting tool, Solver BI360. The new Oracle planning and budgeting cloud service (PBCS) has enhanced the forecasting potential at Cetera and maintained the preferred choice of interface for most users.

Whitehead explains this is the place where Oracle provides its Hyperion business intelligence and corporate performance management system. Whitehead highlights that PBCS also includes Hyperion Financial Reporting Studio, offering a more solid reporting system, allowing for reporting in both HTML and PDF formats. Whitehead explains that Excel is still a prominent focus for financial teams but to serve the requirements of business users Cetera really needed a more standardised, streamlined and simpler system.

 

Oracle ERP Cloud – Single Entry Point

For Cetera, one of the main challenges was determining how to communicate the impacts on procurement, expenses, planning and budgeting, areas that affect many users. Cetera was also in the process of transferring its expense system from an onsite SAP Concur to Oracle ERP Cloud.

Whitehead along with Jeffrey Buchheister, CFO of Cetera worked with marketing and communications to deliver a clear strategy that could be passed on to it users. In-house training teams and HR would support with training.

Whitehead explains that they delivered a series of communication strategies to ensure the vision was clear and more importantly, how it would impact each department and the benefits it would bring. The underlying message was that Oracle ERP Cloud and EPM Cloud would create an industry shift that promotes further growth and creates further insights into the business.

In hindsight, Whitehead suggested that a helpful process would have been to focus on more complex cases and really determine the solutions to each individual case and really understanding potential challenges that Cetera may face in the future.

Now ERP and EPM is in the cloud, employees have more access to data and insightful information. Individual accounts and logins for a range of systems including BI360 and Concur are no more, replaced with a singular intranet login via Oracle cloud, encouraging overall user experience.

Users can record performance and goals all within one portal that also integrates planning, budgeting and the ERP side of the business. Whitehead believes the entire end-user experience has been transformed and improved dramatically and general feedback has proven the system change has been a huge success for Cetera.

 

 

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Maximising your business potential with real time data analytics

Finance leaders highlight data science and analytics as main priorities for 2019

by Mike Jones 06/03/2019

Data is essential for success in the finance market. According to studies, 6 in 10 finance industry leaders believe leveraging data analytics for more insightful information and strategic decision making are top priorities for 2019.

Maximising your business potential with real time data analytics

The capabilities to utilise data analytical tools and big data to create an advantage over other competitors is a significant challenge for board members and C-suite directors worldwide.

There are core areas within a business where data analytics can really be applied. In regards to planning, analytics can be used to calculated risk profiling, data testing through simulated studies and statistical sampling. Data analytics can enable the creation of audits to generate rapid and efficient monitoring, keeping a check on patterns to predict cases of risk and potential fraud.

US consultancy Protiviti released its latest Finance Trends Survey based on over 400 finance leaders and professionals. The results indicate that security, privacy and data analysis are the main priorities for finance leaders this year. All three highlighted are connected in some shape or form to data, with improved data analytics representing high-level importance to over 60% responding CFOs.

The study clearly showed the data is a central theme within the financial market and essential tool for creating further commercial insights, increasing sales and enhancing management reporting and decision making. It is also viewed by many finance professionals as a tool for improving financial operations internally, with over half of finance managers viewing data analytics as critical for improving business processes.

In order to efficiently use data analytics and really see the benefit, there are certain factors that need to be in place. Many finance leaders have claimed they are struggling to maintain the quality of data. The quality of the available data will ultimately influence the reporting and analysis generated for a business. Data governance is a critical element and many finance leaders are facing the challenging of ensuring their business has strong and effective data governance in place.

Data quality can also be enhanced through master data management, a process that is both time consuming and costly. Once implemented, however, finance leaders can gather a better understanding of all areas of potential profit and risk within a business. Without creating quality data, the end results from analytics are potentially inaccurate and ineffective for a business. Bearing in mind the continued progression of artificial intelligence and machine learning means data quality will become even more critical for business transformation.

Data Security

We are in an era of cybersecurity threats and the implementation of GDPR has added further pressure to businesses to protect and manage their data correctly. Keeping information safe is a critical challenge for finance leader. If financial data is mismanaged it can result in significant damage to a business, both from a financial aspect and in terms of reputation. It is no surprise then that security in finance is a top priority for finance leaders, with over 75% of CFOS listing data security as the most important factor to focus on this year.

The challenge is accentuated for larger businesses with a higher turnover as they face a greater volume and complexity with managing their data. As the years go on, data security will only grow in importance. With added data comes further inspections from both customers and regulators and as more companies turn to the cloud, more security risks will be revealed.

Within the study, respondents also highlighted the continuing changing demands of internal customers, managing regulation changes, cloud transitions and tax requirements as other key priorities for 2019.

One particular topic in finance that is gaining a lot of media exposure is robotics process automation (RPA). The study, however, suggested that few finance leaders are really looking to implement this area, with 1 in 5 CFOs believing RPA to be a high priority and over 2 in 5 actually viewing it as a low priority for 2019.

Tony Abel, MD at Protiviti explains that many businesses are yet to really understand the best ways of leveraging RPA. Abel suggests that added expense pressures, combined with demands to become more efficient will likely drive further use of RPA over time to enhance internal processes. RPA can be implemented easily to perform particular repetitive tasks. In terms of finance, the accounts payable section would be a relevant starting area i.e. invoice processing and payment verification.

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Data Analytics

Analytics leaders DDN Storage and SQream partner to create enhanced decisions

by Mike Jones 27/02/2019

Leading developer of storage solution DataDirect Networks, along with SQream, leading developer of GPU accelerated data warehouse have confirmed a solution that enables users to deploy large scale warehouse analytics. Using a combination of both systems, the innovative solution allows end users to effectively enhance the overall performance of business queries without incurring any challenges.

Data Analytics

An ‘Accelerating Analytics at Scale for Higher Quality Business Decisions’ webinar is planned between DDN, SQream and analyst company 451 Research to provide more details on the technology.

Businesses worldwide are starting to truly understand the complexities of efficiently measuring their substantial data stores. For many companies, the sheer amount of data now exceeds the capabilities of conventional data warehouses. To improve the use of data, analysts are exploring new architectures that will enable them to access, analyse and extract valuable data in an efficient manner.

DDNs architecture includes the required infrastructure to deliver a turnkey, GPU-focused analytics system. Comprising of the DDN AI200 NVMe-based storage system, the NVIDIA DGX-1 Deep Learning Server and its switching infrastructure, the A³I solution utilises parallelism to create the potential within SQream DB. The combined solution enables businesses to measure data quicker and at a considerably lower cost than conventional data warehouses.

Kurt Kuckein, senior director of marketing at DDN explains that their customers are continuing to find innovative ways to utilise analytics to deliver fresh insights into the business operation. According to Kuckein, the new partnership with SQream is transforming how companies can leverage their data and provide further value.

David Leichner, the CMO at SQream explains that there is a strong synergy within the partnership with DDN. A combination of the highest quality breed hardware, along with the database acceleration technology at SQream will result in improved capabilities of business insights. Leichner goes on to suggest that through the partnership with DDN, they can offer a solution that helps customers enhance their analytics performance and at the same time minimise any potential risk or challenges whilst meeting the requirements of each business.

DataDirect Networks Explained

DDN is a global leader in supplying big data storage to data-focused businesses worldwide. For over 20 years, DDN has been involved in designing, developing and launching optimised systems and software and storage solutions that allow businesses and agencies to create more value and enable more time to gather insights from their data. The DDN storage technology enables businesses to gather, store, process, analyse and distribute their data on a large scale in the most timely, reliable and cost-efficient manner. Clients working with DDN include some of the leading financial services companies, healthcare, manufacturing and energy business worldwide.

Introducing SQream

SQream focuses on its SQream DB, a GPU data warehouse system that enables the highest level of business intelligence from significant data stores. Businesses worldwide use the SQream DB to measure large volumes of data, for enhanced performance and to reduce costs as well as the potential to scale large amounts of data. SQream DB is available to users internally or via the cloud.

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Anaplan releases Third Quarter financial results

Enterprise Performance Management Software market expected to rise dramatically in key sectors

by Mike Jones 27/02/2019

The Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) software market is expected to experience a surge due to rising demand for enhanced strategic plans in businesses.

EPM
EPM

Cloud-based EPM software provides additional benefits related to conventional EPM software, creating a more efficient and faster tool to implement, an increasing rate of innovation in businesses, reducing operational costs and supporting closer collaboration between team members.

EPM software supports the automation of manual tasks and improves the implementation rate of focus finance processes. EPM software is created in a way to support the implementation of key strategic plans and goals that have been created for an entire business chain. At present, the global EPM software market is expected to reach a value of $3,600 million by the year 2022 and continue to increase at a steady rate during this period.

Global Forecast for the EPM Software Market

Industry analysts suggest the services product sector reach a value of nearly $800 million by the year 2022. This equates to a steady and solid CAGR growth from now until 2022. The services product sector is predicted to account for over 20% of the revenue share of the product type and is due to gain market share further by 2022.

Forecasts suggest that the IT and Telecommunication end-user industry will reach a value of approximately $550 million and is due to gain further market share by 2022. The cloud industry is expected to reach a value of nearly $970 million by 2022 and continue to expand its market share within this period.

The biggest contributing share in the cloud market is found within North America, with a forecast compound annual growth rate of around 5% from now until 2022.

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Enterprise Resource Planning Finance System

Qlik’s acquisition of Attunity will enhance data management for its users

by Mike Jones 27/02/2019

The recent acquisition of Attunity is another clear sign of Qlik’s data management goals and will likely attract new users looking to combine big data and analytics within a single platform.

Enterprise Resource Planning Finance System

The BI and data visualization business have added the Israeli integration and data management company, enhancing its competitive potential within the data management market and potential to attract users seeking an integrated data platform.

The Attunity acquisition, valued at $560 million comes after a series of other deals, including the purchase of AI chatbot Crunchbot and startup data management business, Podium Data. Industry experts believe these deals are a clear indicator that Qlik intends to strengthen its portfolio to compete with one of its largest competitors – Tableau. Doug Henschen, an analyst at Constellation Research believes the recent deals highlight Qlik’s goals to become a bigger and more diverse technology business. Henschen explains that the recent deals enable Qlik to offer data management on a bigger scale and at the same time, develop analytics along with all this added data. In a recent media statement, Qlik explained how Attunity can deliver data in real time, within a range of cloud and data systems as key factors for planning the acquisition.

How will this affect Qlik users?

The integration with Attunity will likely attract users within financial services, healthcare, manufacturing and retail industries. Features such as change data capture technology that handles low-latency needs and data migration potential will support users with cloud projects.

Henschen does highlight, however, what impact all of these acquisitions are having on the core function of the business. Existing customers need to be assured that Qlik is not losing focus and is continuing to develop and invest in its main analytics tools and also exploring other capabilities such as cloud deployment and AI augmentation. In the last year, Qlik provided an analytics product road map and users will require regular updates on progress and future plans in this area.

It is unknown how Qlik will present the Attunity system. The recent relaunch of the Podium Data technology was created via a singular product, referred to as the Qlik Data Catalyst and may be a sign of what to expect in future product launches.

The acquisition is due to be completed later this year. Qlik has made it clear it aims to explore new markets, including the data lake arena, which holds significant competitors include Microsoft Azure and AWS, along with a range of established data management software companies.

Other competitors are not falling behind, however, with Tableau recently launching its own data management service called Tableau Prep Builder and Tableau Prep Conductor data preparation tools, along with the Tableau Data Management Add-on bundle. Tableau is taking the approach of working ‘top-down’, using internally developed research and development to build new products. Qlik, on the other hand, is acquiring assets to expand its data management portfolio from the ‘bottom-up’.

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