Qlik DataTransfer…?

SaaS-based Business Intelligence is on the rise. COVID has proven that when working remotely, you need access to your data wherever you are, rather than connecting back into an office network via a VPN to open up a spreadsheet… no thanks! 🤮

With this in mind, I’ve continued my exploration of Qlik Sense Enterprise SaaS (or SaaS for short). SaaS is the cloudy version of Qlik Sense and is the ‘big boy’ version of Qlik Sense Business (which I’ve blogged about previously here)

But, Carl, I’ve got on-prem data sources… How do I connect SaaS to them?

Easy! Say Hello to Qlik DataTransfer.

Qlik DataTransfer

Qlik DataTransfer (QDT) is a lightweight client, which you install alongside/near your on-prem sources, to push those data sources up to SaaS. There are three main ways this is handled…

1) Qlik App – already got a Qlik Sense or QlikView Desktop file? Point QDT at it and when the reload is completed, QDT will do a binary load, store it as QVD, and push to the cloud. Very cool.

2) Data Connection – there are various connectors available to pull data natively using QDT. For example, perhaps you have an ODBC driver setup to a SQL Server? Well use that in QDT and simply select the tables/views you wish to push to the cloud.

3) Data Folder – for lovers of spreadsheets and other flat files, QDT can watch a folder on your network for new or changed flat files and instantly push them to the cloud

After you’ve chosen one of the above methods, you can select which apps you wish to reload in the SaaS platform once your data has been successfully pushed to the cloud. Just think of the options around active intelligence and alerting*…!

The 3 options above don’t have to be used in isolation. In the next blog, I’ll demonstrate how I’ve used both the Data Folder and the Qlik App options to create a full ETL process before reloading your apps in SaaS,

So, yeah, getting your data to SaaS is a doddle using Qlik DataTransfer. It wouldn’t be a blog without some constructive moaning, so, a future blog will explore some of the gotchas… stay tuned!

*yes, data-driven alerts are in SaaS and they’re great.

Qlik Partner Ambassador

Hello world, it’s been a while since I’ve put pen to paper, but, I have some news…

Super proud to be joining the first Qlik Partner Ambassador class of 2021. This is the first time Qlik have acknowledged those within the Qlik ecosystem who come from the Partner background. Some of you may know that I was a Luminary last year, but, due to the focus of that program shifting to be customer first, the Partners now have their own dedicated channel within Qlik. Exciting times ahead.

More info…

https://www.qlik.com/blog/qlik-launches-partner-ambassador-program
https://www.tsg.com/news/tsg-bi-practice-manager-joins-qlik%E2%80%99s-first-partner-ambassador-program

Canny Tip #2 – CTRL + 00 = Data Model?

This is Canny Tip #2 and its a Qlik Sense tip!

Ever wished there was a way to automatically generate some dummy data?

Perhaps you want to test out some new visuals, or make sure Section Access is working without pulling together a brand new data model.

CTRL + 00 to the rescue!

A good friend (@QlikStu) showed me this trick, quite a while ago, and at the time, it blew my tiny Qlik mind.

From the Data Load editor, create a new tab, then hit CTRL + 00

And before your eyes, a 30 line Qlik script is automatically generated and inserted.

Simply reload your App, and hey presto… 1981 rows of dummy data is loaded!

Easy 🙂

Simple data model for simple data testing!

Canny Tip #2 =

Use CTRL + 00 to quickly build some mock data!

Canny Tip #1 – HUB + CTRL + F = Search *All* Your Apps?

Hello – Welcome to a new mini series of blog posts on little hints, tips and gotchas as I work my way around Qlik Sense and other Business Intelligence tools. This is Canny Tip #1 and its a Qlik Sense on Windows tip… enjoy!

Sometimes the simple things make you stop, think, and re-evaluate.

I was looking for an app that was either published in a stream, or had been duplicated in the My Work stream.

Normally I’d jump into the QMC, and filter on the Apps page to see which stream the app resided in, then open The Hub, to find what I was looking for.

For some reason, I decided to hit CTRL + F, and before my eyes appeared a search experience I had never seen in the Qlik Sense Hub…

At the top of the screen, a search bar appeared, which allowed me to search for the App I wanted, and launch, all from the same screen. I was expecting for the standard web browser “find in page” search to appear, so I was surprised to see this common shortcut had been remapped to something a lot more useful!

“A search box, that’s not very exciting Carl” I hear you squark, however, it is a global smart search

It doesn’t just look for the App name… it searches within the App’s metadata too!

As per below, I was looking for an app called NAV, but, it also found an app with the App Description containing “navigation” – pretty cool!

So…

Canny Tip #1 =

Use CTRL + F to search for apps from The Hub

Driving data culture

This blog has been re-posted from https://www.tsg.com/blog/business-intelligence/driving-data-culture

At this year’s Microsoft Inspire event, data and analytics wasn’t the star of the show, and that’s cool, as Microsoft is heavily investing in innovative solutions as part of the other stack such as D365 / Power Platform and Azure HCI Stack.

However, what was mentioned, really resonated with me… data culture.

Times are uncertain. Conditions are unpredictable. 2020 continues to be a challenge. Trying to navigate 2020 without data, is a bit like driving down the A19, at night, whilst it’s raining cats and dogs, without window wipers, sat nav or headlights…

How will you navigate home safely?

Or…

How do you know how your business, your people, or your customers are doing?

With a bottom up, top down, data culture, to allow everyone across the enterprise to make better, data informed decisions. A data culture is all about having an organisational culture that places emphasis on making decisions from trusted data and information. This is different from the traditional view, i.e. making decisions on gut feeling, from tribal knowledge, and from the skills and experience of a select few.

Building a data culture is more than just unifying your disparate data sets, finding actionable insights and being flexible enough to pivot when market conditions change. It is about what you do with your data, rather than what you say you’ll do!

Without a data culture that values, encourages, recognises, and rewards users and teams for their use of data, no tool and no amount of effort and skill is enough to achieve the full potential of the tools – or of the data.

However, along with embedding a data culture, you must be up to speed with data literacy.

Data literacy is the ability to read, work with, analyse and communicate with data. It is a skill that empowers all levels of workers to ask the right questions of data, build knowledge, make decisions, and communicate meaning to others. Only 24% of business decision makers are confident with their ability to use data, and 32% of C-suite leaders consider themselves data literate.

So, with all the above in mind, at TSG we are experts in Office 365 and SharePoint, the Power Platform, and Dynamics 365, and what do all these areas have in common?

Data.

What do you do after you have deployed your shiny new Microsoft cloud-based solution?

Data…?

What do you do with the data you are painstakingly and accurately recording about your business?

You don’t start exporting to Excel, do you?…

Does your Excel based reporting allow you to easily find out how your business, your people and your customers are doing? Is it flexible enough to pivot to the ever-changing year that is 2020? Does it allow you to see ALL your data? Can you bring your disparate data sets together into one platform, from your legacy systems, your external data or data in other SaaS platforms, with the data in your new, shiny Microsoft cloud-based solution?

Probably not.

If you’ve gone down this route or are struggling with the BI solution you already have in place – perhaps you have multiple legacy reporting systems that need some TLC – then it’s time to talk to an experienced partner such as TSG, and let our Business Intelligence Practice help you build your data culture and enhance your data and analytics approach.

TSG are predominantly a Microsoft solutions house, we talk a lot about our ‘Microsoft story’ design tenet however, the BI Practice has multiple solutions in stack, allowing us to have a high-level view across the BI world, and can offer innovative solutions from multiple vendors.

However, when talking about data, we try and not lead with a product, until we understand your requirements, your pains, your big data picture, your dream data view…

Perhaps you have multiple data sources, an advanced analytics requirement with your big picture being a single version of the truth platform, with dashboards and reports that tell a story? Perhaps a Qlik Sense approach would be great for you.

Perhaps you have a simple requirement, from one data source, and could get a lot of value from some user-friendly dashboards? Perhaps then a Power BI approach would be great for you.

Fundamentally, we talk about problems, we do discovery, and a solution usually drops out of the other side!

We at TSG have been talking about data for years, so much so, this blog from January 2018,written by yours truly, still stands true. In this blog, I compare Qlik Sense and Power BI and two years later, the results are predominantly the same.

So, to recap, a data culture is very important, and I’m thankful that MS Inspire brought that to the forefront of the agenda. What you do with your data (data-driven decision making), is greater than what you say you’ll do (gut feel). Being able to read, analyse, communicate, and argue with data is linked with a strong data culture. Having a platform for all of your data, enables that strong data culture, and improves data literacy across organisations.

Already a TSG customer? Have a data issue? Then get in touch with your Customer Success Manager. Not a TSG customer, well, why not get in touch, and see what we can help you with? Don’t suffer with bad data analytics!

Qlik Sense Business vs. Azure SQL Database

What are we doing?

In today’s blog, I am going demonstrate how to connect to an Azure SQL Database from Qlik Sense Business, for the first time

Scenario

The scenario we have today is a customer call Bobs Room Bookings, who has an Azure SQL Database which holds the data for their ERP system. They want to be able to use Qlik Sense Business to import and interrogate all of their data.

Steps

So, lets go…

1) Log into Qlik Sense Business, and either create or open an App

2) Browse to the Data Load Editor

3) From the right hand menu, click “Create new connection”

4) Search for SQL, and you will notice a variety of SQL like connections. The one we are interested in is “Azure SQL Database”

5) Enter the connection details and username/password for your database,

Server: carlh.database.windows.net
Database: carlh1
Username: Azure
Password: IAmNotTellingYou

6) Click “Test Connection”

Uh-oh…

Error Message “Please check the values for Username, Password Host or other Properties”
General Error. Cannot open the host ‘carlh’ requested by this login. Client with IP Address “xxx” is not allowed to access the server.

Oh dear, quite a grizzly error message has appeared.

Problems problems problems…

So, what does this mean…?

Well, it means that the Qlik Sense Business tenant (i.e. <yourname>.<your region>.qlikcloud.com) does not have access to your Azure tenant. Even though Qlik Sense Business and Azure are both Cloud and SaaS solutions, there is some configuration required to allow both parties to talk to one another.

It should be as simple as pie to get two Cloud solutions to talk, but, as we are ‘technically’ accessing a data source from a private network, the private network being Azure, we need to allow both parties to talk in a safe and secure manner.

This diagram explains the problem – we are getting a Connection Failed error, as the IP Address from Qlik Business Cloud is not in the Azure Firewall.

Don’t panic, its quite a simple fix!

Firstly, we need to identify which Region your Qlik Sense Business tenant resides in, and grab the IP addresses required for Azure. See the Qlik Help guide here > https://help.qlik.com/en-US/cloud-services/Subsystems/Hub/Content/Sense_Hub/LoadData/connect-data-sources.htm

My tenant is carlh.eu.qlikcloud.com, so I need the 3 IP addresses listed in second section

With this information in hand, we need to head over to the Azure tenant where your Azure SQL Database lives. If you login to your Azure Portal (https://portal.azure.com/), and find the SQL Server in question – see below for what mine looks like

From the top left, search for Firewall and select “Firewalls and virtual networks”

Enter the three IP addresses from above into the Client IP Address section half way down the page. Enter a friendly name, so future you doesn’t curse past you too much. For simplicity, I’ve called my three rules Qlik Business 1, 2 and 3.

Once done, click Save.

If you jump back to Qlik Business Cloud, and click on Test Connection again, you should see…

“Connection succeeded” 😊

At this point, you can click on Create, and you are ready to import data from your Azure SQL Database.

In Summary

We have gone through the steps to setup connectivity between Qlik Sense Business and an Azure SQL Database.

An Azure SQL Server can have multiple Databases, however, you only need to configure the Azure Firewall for the first time you try and import data from a particular Azure SQL Server.

Have you struggled with this? Let me know in the comments.

Qlik Sense Business – you what?

Hello all, today I am mostly talking about Qlik Sense Business… You what? Qlik Sense Business? Yes, Qlik Sense Business.. let me explain!

This is blog one of many I am planning on Qlik Sense Business. I hope to explore the functionality, and comparing and contrasting with Qlik Sense Enterprise and other solutions.

Anyway, on with today’s blog

Who is Qlik Sense Business?

Qlik Sense Business is Qlik’s newest SaaS solution which brings you all that you love about Qlik Sense, and puts it in the cloud, ‘as a service’

What is Qlik Sense Business?

Qlik Sense Business (or QSB for short) is Qlik Sense Enterprise, but hosted by Qlik on their SaaS (Software as a solution) platform, based on top of Kubernetes architecture – I believe the cool kids call this K8s?.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to know about Kubernetes or anything like that, this is a simple to use, quick to get up and running with, Business Intelligence platform.

QSB doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of standard Qlik Sense Enterprise, however, only drops API integrations, managed spaces, access to “value-added” products such as NPrinting and Alerting. You still get the core Qlik associative engine, with self service creation and ETL as well as global search, insight advisor, mobile access, and everything else you’d expect from a Qlik Sense product. 

There is a seamless upgrade path to Qlik Sense Enterprise, which means once you’ve hit the capacity limits*, or want to look at different deployment methods, you can simply upscale without having to rewrite or ‘do anything’ – just the click of a button. I have to say, the capacity limits are quite high, which is good, and surprising for an entry level product. Well done Qlik! 

*App size in memory 1.25GB, storage on disk (250GB), 50 reloads per day and 3 reloads concurrently.

Where can I find Qlik Sense Business?

QSB is a SaaS solution, and can be found the Qlik website. No software is required, just you, your data, and an internet connection – https://www.qlik.com/us/products/qlik-sense

How much does Qlik Sense Business cost?

QSB starts at $30/user/month, or for fellow Brits £23.75/user/month. There is tiered pricing available too, meaning, more you buy, the cheaper it can be! If that doesn’t tempt, there is also a 30 day free trial…

When can I use Qlik Sense Business?

QSB is available now, go for it. You might, also, wish to engage with a Qlik Partner, to help with configuration

How do you get started with Qlik Sense Business?

Head on over to https://www.qlik.com/us/products/qlik-sense and click “Try It Free”. Once you’ve got your tenant setup, its super simple to get going. On the main landing page, you can ‘start your journey’ by analysing sample data, or analyse your own files by uploading a spreadsheet or connecting to a SaaS/cloud data source

Clicking on ‘analysing sample data’ imports a data model, and launches the Insights Advisor, and allows you to explore and ask those questions of your data… For example… “top sales by customer” will auto generate insights, data, and charts for you – very cool, very easy to do.

To add the automatically generated chart to a sheet, click Add to sheet, which will take you into edit mode. From here, you can start to add more objects to craft your dashboard! Ps – notice, no code was used in the gif below, all drag and drop, all using the AI and Qlik’s cognitive engine…

Why would *you* use Qlik Sense Business?

If you are new to the Qlik ecosystem, and want to give it a try, using the 30 day free trial, then this is a great way to get started quickly and cheaply – if your data sources are mostly cloud based. On premise data sources such as a SQL Server running Sage 200 would require firewall configuration, to allow your Qlik Sense Business tenant to talk to your server.

Qlik Sense Business is a direct replacement for using Qlik Sense Desktop – as this is no longer available as a freemium product**. You get the vast majority of functionality with QSB, so this is not a cut down version, the good stuff is not hidden behind an expensive paywall (like other providers…).

Why would *I* use Qlik Sense Business?

Well, being honest, in my professional life, I currently don’t – apart from as an environment for learning – however, I can see there becomes a time where all Qlik prospects start out on Qlik Sense Business, for Proof of Concept / Seeing is Believing type events, and once the time is right, migrates over to Qlik Sense Enterprise.

But, for me, this isn’t quite how it works in practice 🙂

To finish…

I hope you found that useful, stay tuned for more blogs re Qlik Sense Business

**Qlik Sense Desktop is kinda still free, if you do this:

Setting up a ‘Meet Up’…

For the last year or so, I’ve been trying to attend more Tech related events in my area, as we know, a tech community only thrives when people engage with it. In Sunderland, there is an excellent monthly meetup, creatively named, Sunderland Digital (link), however, in the North East of England, as of 2018, there wasn’t much in the way of a Data nor Business Intelligence community.

Flash forward to February 2019, and, I am now co-organising the first Qlik Meetup in the North East… the snappily named… North East England Qlik & Business Intelligence Meetup – which is proof of the above, a community only thrives when one engages with it!

As we progress on with the planning etc, I plan on blogging on what went well, what didn’t go so well, and what to think about if you are considering creating your own Meetup, or getting involved with a Meetup.

Anyway… our first event will be held on May 8th, and the speakers line-up looks something like this:

Meetup #1 Image

For more info, or to RSVP to the event, see here > https://www.meetup.com/North-East-Qlik-Business-Intelligence-Meetup/events/259171708/ 

Until then, stay safe and keep on being canny with your data!

Do you know what your data is doing?

Data, making decisions and babies

Matthew1

Hi, it’s Carl here, one of TSG’s Business Intelligence Developers and a new father – which means data during the day and diapers during the night (yes I know I should’ve said ‘nappies’ over ‘diapers’, as I’m not American, however, I couldn’t let that alliteration-based pun go to waste!)

Having a child means you generate and consume so much data and have to make decisions on that data on a constant basis. A thought came to me during an early morning feeding session (other than the usual– “I’m tired”, “will Matthew go back to sleep?” or my favourite, “does Matthew look like he’s going to be sick? *”), that recording accurate data and acting upon data points about your child is not so dissimilar to making decisions that impact your business.

Decision-making!?

When making decisions, it comes down to intuition, experience and knowledge. This decision should be supported by quick and easy access to cold hard data, via a BI platform such as Qlik Sense, to truly ensure you have data-informed decision-making across your enterprise. Do you have this?

Obviously, as new parents, and with Matthew being our first child, making decisions is tough! So, after taking some advice from our midwife, I decided to put on my data hat and we started to gather data about our son via an app.

Garbage in, garbage out

Deploying a solution such as Qlik Sense is a bloody brilliant idea. However, let’s take a step back and think GIGO** – garbage in, garbage out.

Good reporting means good business intelligence; without putting good stuff into your systems, you aren’t going to get good stuff out. This is where digital transformation and data literacy come into play.

Simply put, data literacy is having the ability to read, work with, analyse, question and argue with data. According to research performed by Qlik UK, only 17% of UK workers can be classed as ‘data-literate’ with 40% feeling overwhelmed by workplace data. Being overwhelmed by data stems from too many data sources (unlinked applications, ad-hoc spreadsheets, multiple reporting tools) and not enough standardisation. Does this sound familiar? It certainly does from my experience at the coal face!

Anyway, if you do not focus on your data quality at the front end via developing data literacy skills, gaining insights into your data can be made significantly more difficult – albeit, not impossible as nothing is impossible!

BIwide_0

Decision-making = data!

As time goes on, in the world of work and the world of parenthood, you tackle problems (= experience), learn more (= knowledge) and develop a gut feel for things (= intuition). Also, you amass more and more data (remembering GIGO)!

In the world of parenthood, with our new baby-tracking app, and by recording accurately the interactions we have with our son, making decisions about our son became second nature and significantly quicker. For example, it’s been a few hours since a last feed, but you aren’t sure as you’ve been for a (rare) nap. He’s crying and you think its feeding time (intuition/experience). Check the app, and yes, he’s overdue (data). Tah-dah – a data-informed decision but based on Intuition and experience.

That’s a lovely story Carl, but…

Matthew2

Yeah, okay, the example above is a simplistic view of data-informed decision, using a twee example of my newborn son. However, the core themes are incredibly relevant to UK businesses.

Simply put – do you know what your data is doing?

If you do, great, that’s fantastic. You will be making data-informed decisions daily and not wildly guessing or running on hunches. If you don’t, then perhaps it’s time to embrace digital transformation and data literacy and really get to know your data by deploying a business intelligence (BI) solution. Why not give TSG a shout? We’ve got years of experience with data literacy, data discovery, and deploying great business intelligence solutions from Power BI and the Microsoft stack to Qlik Sense, QlikView and Qlik NPrinting, from data sources as varied as Sage, NAV, and CRM to MS Excel, Google Analytics and bespoke REST APIs.

Shine a light on your data – do you know what it’s doing? A simple question which we can help you answer, but with massive repercussions!

*The answer is always yes.

**The not safe for work version of this is SISO…

***

The above article was originally posted on my employers blog – see here

Do you know what your data is doing?

Data, making decisions and babies

Matthew1Hi, it’s Carl here, one of TSG’s Business Intelligence Developers and a new father – which means data during the day and diapers during the night (yes I know I should’ve said ‘nappies’ over ‘diapers’, as I’m not American, however, I couldn’t let that alliteration-based pun go to waste!)

Having a child means you generate and consume so much data and have to make decisions on that data on a constant basis. A thought came to me during an early morning feeding session (other than the usual– “I’m tired”, “will Matthew go back to sleep?” or my favourite, “does Matthew look like he’s going to be sick? *”), that recording accurate data and acting upon data points about your child is not so dissimilar to making decisions that impact your business.

 

Decision-making!?

When making decisions, it comes down to intuition, experience and knowledge. This decision should be supported by quick and easy access to cold hard data, via a BI platform such as Qlik Sense, to truly ensure you have data-informed decision-making across your enterprise. Do you have this?

Obviously, as new parents, and with Matthew being our first child, making decisions is tough! So, after taking some advice from our midwife, I decided to put on my data hat and we started to gather data about our son via an app.

Garbage in, garbage out

Deploying a solution such as Qlik Sense is a bloody brilliant idea. However, let’s take a step back and think GIGO** – garbage in, garbage out.

Good reporting means good business intelligence; without putting good stuff into your systems, you aren’t going to get good stuff out. This is where digital transformation and data literacy come into play.

Simply put, data literacy is having the ability to read, work with, analyse, question and argue with data. According to research performed by Qlik UK, only 17% of UK workers can be classed as ‘data-literate’ with 40% feeling overwhelmed by workplace data. Being overwhelmed by data stems from too many data sources (unlinked applications, ad-hoc spreadsheets, multiple reporting tools) and not enough standardisation. Does this sound familiar? It certainly does from my experience at the coal face!

Anyway, if you do not focus on your data quality at the front end via developing data literacy skills, gaining insights into your data can be made significantly more difficult – albeit, not impossible as nothing is impossible!

 

BIwide_0

Decision-making = data!

As time goes on, in the world of work and the world of parenthood, you tackle problems (= experience), learn more (= knowledge) and develop a gut feel for things (= intuition). Also, you amass more and more data (remembering GIGO)!

In the world of parenthood, with our new baby-tracking app, and by recording accurately the interactions we have with our son, making decisions about our son became second nature and significantly quicker. For example, it’s been a few hours since a last feed, but you aren’t sure as you’ve been for a (rare) nap. He’s crying and you think its feeding time (intuition/experience). Check the app, and yes, he’s overdue (data). Tah-dah – a data-informed decision but based on Intuition and experience.

That’s a lovely story Carl, but…

Matthew2

Yeah, okay, the example above is a simplistic view of data-informed decision, using a twee example of my newborn son. However, the core themes are incredibly relevant to UK businesses.

Simply put – do you know what your data is doing?

If you do, great, that’s fantastic. You will be making data-informed decisions daily and not wildly guessing or running on hunches. If you don’t, then perhaps it’s time to embrace digital transformation and data literacy and really get to know your data by deploying a business intelligence (BI) solution. Why not give TSG a shout? We’ve got years of experience with data literacy, data discovery, and deploying great business intelligence solutions from Power BI and the Microsoft stack to Qlik Sense, QlikView and Qlik NPrinting, from data sources as varied as Sage, NAV, and CRM to MS Excel, Google Analytics and bespoke REST APIs.

Shine a light on your data – do you know what it’s doing? A simple question which we can help you answer, but with massive repercussions!

*The answer is always yes.

**The not safe for work version of this is SISO…

***

The above article was originally posted on my employers blog – see here

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