Qlik Sense vs Microstrategy Summary
Qlik Sense and Microstrategy are two wholly different BI platforms. Qlik Sense is a relatively new offering from Qlik and caters to self-service data visualization needs. It does not support production reporting, or any form of advanced analytics, and is targeted at the same market as Tableau, Spotfire and other similar platforms. Microstrategy on the other hand caters for all enterprise BI and analytics needs, and is essentially a general purpose platform. It offers advanced analytics in the form of predictive analytics and statistics, mobile support, and a very capable production reporting environment. Data exploration and discovery is supported, but it really doesn’t compare with the ease-of-use and sophistication of Qlik Sense in this respect. It would be quite feasible to use both products together, although Microstrategy does get quite expensive if the full architecture is used.
Qlik Sense differentiators are its powerful associative data discovery engine, which has knowledge of relationships between data sources, and its extensibility. There are many ways Qlik Sense can be extended and tailored to user requirements, while offering a very easy to use platform for casual ad-hoc data exploration. Microstrategy’s main strength is the breadth of its offering, and for those who want a one-stop BI and analytics platform, there are very few rivals to Microstrategy. Both platforms offer good mobile support and excellent scalability. In the end it boils down to the specific requirements an organization might have.
Qlik Sense is a drag-and-drop data visualization and discovery platform capable of addressing most business intelligence needs apart from heavy duty production reporting. It delivers an easy-to-use interface suited to all levels of skill, and has a substantial amount of in-built intelligence to help users along. Charts, tables and dashboards are its main currency, of almost any level of complexity – or simplicity. Users can share their visualizations via various mechanisms and the platform was built ground up for mobile access – no matter the device (visualizations are rendered in HTML5).
Perhaps the most significant Qlik Sense differentiator is its associative data engine. This understands the links between various data sources and can suggest previously unsuspected relationships. Many suppliers use the term ‘data discovery’, but this facility adds new meaning to the term.
It comes in two versions – Qlik Sense Desktop, which is free to download and is not throttled in any way. It runs on a Windows desktop and is capable of accessing many data sources. Qlik Sense Enterprise runs on a server(s) and provides users with a browser based interface. Both editions have similar functionality, but the server platform can scale to serve global distributed enterprises through its excellent scalability and distributed architecture. Qlik has always offered excellent governance of its environment, and IT has the tools to ensure data is secure, unambiguous and that the right people get to the right data.
Very importantly Qlik Sense is extensible. Not a very sexy attribute perhaps, but one that distinguishes the adults from the children in the world of enterprise business intelligence. In fact Qlik Sense is one large extension, built on itself! A large number of APIs are available for embedding visualizations into production applications, creating custom data connectors and building new visualization types. Developers will have absolutely no problem extending Qlik Sense, if that is what is needed. Finally Qlik Sense is fast – its in-memory columnar associative engine guarantees that.
Qlik Sense is the perfect fit for organizations who need easy-to-use data visualization and discovery tools, but may also want the head room to accommodate more advanced levels of sophistication. It is an enterprise solution, with its governance and developer support capabilities. Businesses looking for an enterprise production reporting platform (invoices etc) should look elsewhere, as should users who needs a few simple charts, since they would find Qlik Sense overkill.
Qlik Sense does not come with any advanced statistical or predictive analytics capability, but that is not its domain.
Microstrategy is a very broad, and very deep business intelligence platform. It will primarily be of interest to large corporations with complex requirements, and a very large body of users who need reports and dashboards. While it does address the current vogue for all things visual, it is not as proficient, or easy to use, as products such as Qlik and Tableau. It does however go well beyond the remit of platforms such as these, with integrated advanced analytics for scoring, and industrial strength production reporting capabilities. By Microstrategy’s own admission, users are still uncovering capability after a decade of use.
The main complaint heard is that of the high price. Microstrategy comes in various ‘modules’, and if an organization wants the whole set, it can turn out to be pretty expensive. But there is a value for money argument to be made here, since the high price is rewarded with almost unlimited sophistication.
The platform is an integrated whole – not a trivial accomplishment for so large a product. Developers delight in the object oriented architecture, which often has the pleasant effect of increasing productivity as the sophistication of a deployment increases. The user interface is primarily browser based, with various well defined layers in the architecture below this.
Unless your business is as large or as complex as General Motors or Exxon it may be overkill, and some of the more visual oriented products might be more suitable. Although Microstrategy does offer sophisticated visual analytics in its portfolio of capabilities.
The most recent release is Microstrategy 10 Secure Enterprise – with an obvious focus on security. This is an essential feature when enterprise wide, highly distributed intelligence is being employed. It ties in with Microstrategy Usher – a device based security protocol deployed on mobile devices – and the Apple Watch.
In summary, Microstrategy is a good choice for large organizations with sophisticated needs, pursuing a one product does all approach. The other approach is best-of-breed, with the advantage of a better fit, but at the cost of managing disparate platforms.