A Close Eye on These Master Data Manipulators

 | Aug 09, 2012 | 10:00 AM EDT  | Comments
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Ever wonder what companies do with all the information that they glean from spying on our online habits -- ad-clicking, Facebook (FB)-cruising, email-sending, shoe-buying and news-lingering?

Well, for quite a long time, so did they. Companies were mesmerized by the potential of all that data but not exactly sure how to manipulate it for their own nefarious purposes.

Then, along came a solution in the form of software developers who cloned data-analysis techniques used in other fields to develop a specialty known as "business intelligence" (BI) It sounds more acceptable that way, though in reality it is mostly a matter of turning our habits against us.

A leader in this field is Qlik Technologies (QLIK) -- or QlikTech, as it's known to cognoscenti -- a business-intelligence software company that provides data analytics and search services to firms who want to exploit their customers more efficiently. Sorry -- I mean, companies who want to serve them better.

Bjorn Berg and Staffan Gestrelius established the company in 1993 in Lund, Sweden, although the global headquarters are now in Radnor, Pa. They doodled around with various business models for around a decade before deciding to marketing its technology as a BI tool in Europe. In 2004, the firm spread its wings, incorporating in the U.S. and focusing its sales efforts in North America.

 This proved to be a great move, as sales jumped from $13 million in 2004 to $320 million last year, an amazing rise of over 2,300%. Now, that's what we're talking about when we discuss an emerging-growth stock.

 Business Intelligence is a broad term for the tools, systems, and process that allows companies to gather, store, access and analyze corporate data to aid it in decision-making.

This typically involves nearly every aspect of managing the business, including customer profiling and support, market research, statistical analysis, inventory and distribution analysis and many others. Most companies collect a tremendous amount of data from its operations, and BI software helps it use that information in a beneficial manner.

In fact, QlikTech reports a 34% increase in employee productivity, 96% customer satisfaction, 16% revenue increase and a historical return on investment of 186% for its customers. The company's primary product is its QlikView platform, which is used by more than 25,000 companies across 100 countries. Its client list includes Shell (RDS.A), Canon (CAJ), Panasonic (PC), Gatorade (owned by Pepsico (PEP)), Toyota (TM), Qualcomm (QCOM) and a host of others worldwide.

An example of one of the firm's software products is the QlikView Business Discovery solution, which is used by more than 2,500 financial services firms, including the top 20 financial institutions in North America and Europe. Clients use it to improve their expense management and increase the effectiveness of their risk and compliance initiatives. Using a broad range of charting and display options, users can easily manipulate data and analyze information across business units to manage risk exposure, produce compliance reports and investigate regulatory requests.

What differentiates QlikTech from many of its peers is its proprietary associative search technology. Because it is all done in system memory, it gives users the flexibility to conduct any data queries then wish without necessitating the company information-technology staff to build new processes. It's a huge advantage, and it makes its software one of the most user-friendly platforms in the industry. Additionally, installation is relatively easy to install, and can be used from remote desktops and mobile devices and integrated with in-house business applications.

The company has a self-described "land and expand" business model in which it aims to land within a specific department or segment of an organization by solving a specific business need. It then seeks to expand its offerings throughout the organizations by targeting other business units.

QlikTech has clearly been highly successful with this marketing plan, as 2011 revenue jumped 36% from the previous year, while the number of registered users rose to 71,000 from 43,000.

Qlik Technologies (QLIK) -- Daily

Shares of QlikTech went public in July 2010 at $10 per share, and the offer raised $120 million in capital. It's shown a bit of weakness this year, having sunk about 8.5% so far, but take a deeper look at this one. This may be the setback that tech value investors exploit.

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