COMPANIES

Agency data glut creates opportunity for commercial offering

With the amount of data ever increasing, agencies need fast and accurate ways of digesting and leveraging that data to make important decisions. That challenge offers an opportunity for Qlik, a commercial business intelligence company.

Founded in 1993, Qlik is a commercial-off-the-shelf software product, and the company’s focus is in the area of business intelligence. The company has around 35,000 customers worldwide.

“The idea with our technology is to enable users to get access to user information in a way that allows them to explore data in the way that their mind thinks,” said Monica McEwen, federal director, Qlik.

Imagine watching a baseball game on television. As each batter steps up to home plate, the announcers bring up statistics about the player. Sometimes, the announcers highlight very specific trends that would otherwise require a lot of time spent pouring over spreadsheets of baseball data.

Qlik enables this kind of idiosyncratic data analysis. In fact, the company handled the official statistical data for the 2015 NCAA Men’s College World Series. The software gives users the flexibility to follow their thought process based on their mission or whatever the question of the day is, McEwen said.

In the government space, Qlik is widely utilized also, finding a home in around 30 agencies across the civilian, defense and intelligence areas. The Environmental Protection Agency uses Qlik to track emissions output at ports for air quality; the National Institutes of Health uses Qlik to track grants applications.

But the example McEwen talked about at length was how the Army Medical Command uses Qlik to track access to care. Ever since the Veterans Health Administration scandal in the spring of 2014, the Defense Department has been keen on improving the quality of the health care it provides for its veterans.

One of the top concerns was that people were unable to analyze large volumes of data from multiple data sources, McEwen said, which is becoming a more persistent problem due to an increasing number of data sources that people are using to drive mission effectiveness and to make decisions.

“Qlik has been able to aggregate that data from those data sources and, for the first time ever, really give [the Defense Department] a full picture and full view into [veterans'] access to care,” McEwen said. Now, patients are able to schedule appointments more quickly, and hospitals can better see if they need to increase the workforce in certain areas, among other applications.

McEwen does not see the demand for this sort of technology diminishing any time soon. The company recently conducted a survey to determine how agencies are managing data and the extent to which they believe data analytics tools can benefit their agency. Qlik found that 65 percent of agencies did not have a data analytics solution in place.

With technologies like the Internet of Things emerging, McEwen said, data analysis will be increasingly crucial to agencies as they have to deal with even more data and data sources than they do now. The challenge is taking the data and making good use of it.

About the Author

Mark Hoover is a senior staff writer with Washington Technology. You can contact him at mhoover@washingtontechnology.com, or connect with him on Twitter at @mhooverWT.

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