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Liquid Software

Posted by: Steve Hamm on May 27, 2005

Paul Wahl has done his bit for Solid Software. He was COO of Siebel Systems from 99 to 03, and had worked at SAP for seven years, including being CEO of SAP America. These companies are known for creating huge corporate software programs that are frightfully expensive and take a lot of time and money to install. But now Wahl has found religion. “Current software is too big and too complex and too hard to change,” says Wahl. In its place, he proposes “liquid software.”

By "liquid" he means quick to deploy, easy to use, and easy to change. This is one reason that he's backing QlikTech, a small Swedish outfit that sells a cool tool, QlikView, for analyzing corporate data. Wahl, who lives in Germany and California, joined QlikTech's board of directors in February after it landed a $12.5 million from venture capitalists Accel Partners and Jerusalem Venture Partners.

QlikView can be installed and configured in less than a week and it's not much more complex than an Excel spreadsheet. But it isn't just easy to use. It's also powerful. The software taps into the power of 64-bit processors like Intel's Itanium to load the data to be analyzed into memory and slice it and dice it real-time, rather than requiring people to set up more rigid and less responsive datawarehouses and analytics cubes. "They're yesterday's idea," says Mans Hultman, QlikTech's CEO.

While QlikTech isn't well known, the 12-year-old company has quietly racked up 1,800 customers in 43 countries. And some seem to be quite satisfied. Allan Achtemichuk, CFO of Art in Motion, a Canadian art sales and distribution company, picked QlikView over offerings from better known suppliers Cognos and MicroStrategy because they were two to three times as expensive and took 3-6 months to install. Art in Motion has about 10 QlikTech applications running--everything from sales analysis to demand planning. 30-40 of its employees use the software every day. "I don't think we could live without it now," says Achtemichuk.

That's also true of a lot of the "solid" programs from SAP and Siebel. But Achtemichuk sounds like he has a smile on his face when he says it.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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