Qlik and Microsoft are two of the biggest names in the Business Intelligence (BI) space. Qlik first launched QlikView, their original visualisation software, back in 1995 and more recently introduced QlikSense in 2014.
In Qlik’s own words, QlikSense offers a more self-service approach to data discovery and analysis, as well as bolstering the armoury with the addition of Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities.
Power BI, meanwhile, has proved hugely popular with a large number of organisations. Most of whom cite its intuitiveness, ease-of-use and ability to integrate into the full Microsoft stack.
Complexity vs Simplicity
The main differences between QlikView, QlikSense and PowerBI can be summed up simply as complexity vs simplicity. In general, although there are exceptions, Qlik products offer higher levels of customisability and capability, but it does come at a price.
You’d need to have some understanding of data science, and potentially coding, to really get the most out of QlikView and Sense. QlikView focuses on the analytical side of things, and you can dive into the code and experiment with creating data models. You can go as far as constructing an entirely custom reporting interface. For some, this offers exactly the value they are looking for. For others, it’s simply a feature that won’t get used.
Both Qlik and PowerBI can display your data in all the ways you can imagine a use for. There is very little to choose between them here, but the same argument does still apply. Qlik will grant you greater control over exactly which visualisations you use, and how you display them – although you may need to ask your developer to help. PowerBI operates on a drag-and-drop functionality that is intuitive to use. It will also suggest visualisations depending on your data.
The Microsoft Advantage
The obvious, and useful, advantage of PowerBI is its ability to integrate seamlessly into other Microsoft products. If your organisation is already using Office 365 and SQL Server than most of your data sources already have connections set up. You can go from install to producing your first visualisations in literally minutes.
For companies who already have the Microsoft stack, and want to illuminate more of their data this seems like the obvious choice. PowerBI is simple to integrate, simple to learn and simple to use. For those not versed in the language of data, it also has Natural Language Queries to help you make sense of it all.
It would be unfair to say that Qlik does not also have these integrations though. There are hundreds of APIs for Qlik which allow it to connect to many of the same sources. Even so, it will still be a more complex install and integration than PowerBI if you are running Microsoft.
How Much Power Do You Need?
When you describe products as being much more powerful and capable than their competitors it can be tempting to simply discount the others. Extra capability does not directly correlate to extra value though. Especially in the potentially confusing world of BI and data exploration.
Both Qlik and PowerBI can help organisations of all sizes make sense of and extract value from their data. They do differ in approach though. PowerBI will take your data and help you extract the useful insights from it through visualisations and queries. It can do this with a relatively low level of skill or expertise. QlikView and QlikSense can do the same, although to make the most of their powers you’d need someone comfortable with data science and coding. Whether that suits you or not depends on the makeup of your organisation.
For most people, PowerBI is more than sufficient. To reduce it; why complicate when you can simplify?