Qlik: The business intelligence tool of choice – Interview with Director, Upuli de Abrew

Business executives only have 30% insight into the massive lakes of data their organisations produce and harvest, says Insight Consulting Director Upuli De Abrew. She says data only turns into useful information when businesses can make sense of it with active intelligence to derive actionable insights.

De Abrew says Qlik is the only true end-to-end business intelligence (BI) solution available in the market today. “Whereas traditional BI has been passive, Qlik drives a real-time approach of continuous intelligence. In other words, Qlik bridges the gaps between relevant data and actionable data, between actionable data and actionable insights, and finally the gap between insight and realising value.”

Insight Consulting is an end-to-end BI service provider and Qlik’s most awarded partner in South Africa. Rather than being a service provider in the traditional sense, Insight Consulting builds long-term relationships with its clients, taking on the role of trusted advisor and partner.

“We still have a meaningful relationship with our first-ever client, and this is testament to our philosophy of building long-term partnerships. We embed ourselves in the business, understand it and its problems, develop appropriate solutions, and walk the road hand-in-hand with our partners. Qlik is hands-down the leader in BI, and its end-to-end functionality and ease of unlocking value from data is exactly what our partners need to bolster their competitiveness and efficiency,” she says.

Real-time analytics and data literacy

As more businesses in South Africa adopt the cloud and look for ways to remain competitive in a rapidly-evolving business environment, they demand up-to-date and real-time information. They can’t rely exclusively on IT departments to fulfil BI functions – it needs to be driven by the business, says De Abrew.

“It comes down to analysing the right data to achieve a state of active intelligence, and this is done by plugging all the gaps from data sourcing, to integration to how the data is visualised, presented and understood. A major focus in our partners’ success is data literacy,” says De Abrew. “This is where the real value in the data is unlocked.”

Insight Consulting, through leveraging Qlik, works to empower business users to work with data in a way that makes sense to their individual contexts. “Ultimately, data literacy means users need to be able to look at data and know how to make sense of it. We approach this in a customisable manner which depends on the needs at the various levels of a business.”

Data storytelling

De Abrew says various levels of users must be empowered to conduct their own analytics. “We make sure the appropriate level of analytics gets to all levels of an organisation,” she says. Beyond that, using Qlik, they deliver it in a format that the person prefers using – they can see the story the data tells.

That’s what data storytelling is. It is the methodology used to communicate information that’s appropriate to the intended audience. Qlik has a storytelling function embedded right in the tool, allowing users to jump from presentation format to analytics with a single click.


“Perhaps one of Qlik’s biggest strengths is the strong governance that is built into the platform. In a customisable way, we can determine who can see what level of data, and on which devices and in whichever format. No matter how complex an organisation’s governance requirements are, if we work with the partner to define these at the outset, the Qlik platform can enable it,” says De Abrew.

Due to the personalised nature of how it does business, Insight Consulting understands that each client is different and so there’s never a one-size-fits-all approach, helped by the adaptability of the platform. “This is especially true when it comes to specific governance requirements related to compliance, such as with the Protection of Personal Information Act. The types of data being harvested and generated will vary between businesses. Using Qlik we are able to build all these requirements and nuances into the data models.”

Users need to conduct analytics on clean data that has already been vetted, and Qlik ensures users can only access information that has already undergone this vetting process.

Augmented analytics

De Abrew says one of the most exciting functionalities that Qlik brings to partners is the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning with big data. “This is like having an extra brain that learns from your actions. If you activate Insight Advisor in Qlik Sense, it will propose visualisations and analytics based on your interactions with the app, as well as additional information it identifies as relevant based on the data associations in the app.

“The strength here is that it will bring new or different insights that you may not have thought of previously. This eliminates blind spots, because by using the powerful associative engine, it can see associations that the business may not be aware of,” explains De Abrew.

Business value

De Abrew says that equipped with Qlik, Insight Consulting helps organisations turn data into business value. “The whole point of investing in a powerful end-to-end BI platform like Qlik is to unlock value for an organisation’s customers, partners and employees.

“Our consultants are problem solvers with deep industry and business knowledge, which means they work closely with clients to deploy Qlik in a customisable and appropriate manner tailored to their unique businesses,” she says.

Interview credit to ITWeb for the official publication.

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