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Qlik Connect 2024 – CEO Mike Capone on AI ethics, and balancing trust with opportunity

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What used to be very useful vowels in the English language, turned into most controversial letters in the world, which is AI. So let’s just talk about it.

CEO Mike Capone didn’t shy away from talking about AI in the opening keynote at Qlik Connect – but with a focus on a commitment to responsibility, rather than land-grabbing. This theme is a continuation of the vendor’s activities over the last twelve months. Although the acquisitions of Talend and Kyndi featured during this period, Qlik also formed its inaugural AI Council – an initiative designed to ensure that the development and deployment of AI technologies are conducted responsibly.

After spending a couple of days at Qlik’s annual conference in Orlando this week, and sitting down with Capone, it’s clear that the company has been working hard to hone a strategy that balances ambition with responsibility.

Although Qlik is no stranger to AI, the vendor has been candid about the fact that it doesn’t know everything; Or as Capone puts it: 

We knew that there are a lot of things we didn’t know…That’s why we formed the AI Council — to get a series of really smart people from outside of corporate worlds, from academia, from government affairs to advise us, and we’re so lucky to have them.

This Council has significantly influenced Qlik’s approach to product development – and how it talks about the use of AI, aiming to contrast sharply with the more cavalier attitudes of some companies. Reflecting on the rapid evolution of AI technology and its reception in the market, Capone highlights the initial hype and subsequent stabilization in customer sentiment:

A year ago, when ChatGPT came out, the hype was immense. And the fear was immense. People literally thought their companies were going to get disrupted and blown out of existence because of generative AI.

However, as the dust settled, a more measured perspective from customers started to emerge. He observes:

The good news is I think everybody’s calmed down. Everyone took a breath. People are still intimidated and wary of what’s coming, but I think everybody realizes that this is not something that happens overnight.

The realization that effective AI implementation requires significant groundwork — data readiness, governance, privacy, and security — has tempered initial expectations. Qlik’s strong community of 40,000 customers and 2,000 partners remains a vital part of its innovation ecosystem. Capone emphasizes the importance of continuous engagement with this community, and discussed the extensive feedback mechanism of customer and partner advisory boards, subgroups around AI, and unstructured feedback. This mechanism allows Qlik to stay attuned to the needs and concerns of its user base, ensuring that its product development aligns with real-world demands.

The role of AI across the organization

Maintaining a balance between ethical responsibility and business momentum is a delicate act, but Capone maintained that this has been part of the fabric of the company since its inception. Qlik evaluates potential acquisitions not just for their technological fit but also for their alignment with its ethical standards. Capone points out that a genuine commitment to ethics should be embedded in a company’s culture, not outsourced to a single role:

There are a lot of companies rushing around right now to go hire a Chief AI Ethics officer. If you have to do that, you’re probably doing something wrong — because it’s all of our jobs.

Capone is also clear about AI’s role in the future of data analytics and business intelligence. ‘Garbage in, garbage out’ may be a phrase that has been going for 30-mumble years, but it’s a statement that still holds true. Better data means better outcomes but it demands that we put in the time. Capone makes it clear that the need for analytics is not going to be diminished by generative AI. It can augment, it can bring it to a broader audience – but it won’t diminish it. This includes the importance of roles in data engineering and analysis, which also feeds into why Talend continues to be a visible identity within Qlik since the acquisition. 

During the keynote, the vendor unveiled Qlik Talend Cloud and Qlik Answers. These new solutions aim to accelerate enterprise AI adoption, with Qlik Talend Cloud offering no-code to pro-code, AI-augmented data integration capabilities, and Qlik Answers offering AI-generated answers with full explainability from unstructured data. Qlik Talend Cloud also incorporates Stitch’s SaaS data connectivity, enhancing its capability to handle diverse data sources efficiently. The Qlik Talend Trust Score for AI, which assesses data health and allows users to examine data lineage, was particularly well-received by attendees.

Looking ahead, Qlik’s goals are centered on making data integration seamless for its customers, while educating them on data governance, management and ethics, stressing the importance of responsible governance at a broader societal level. Capone is part of a group of CEOs and experts advising the White House on AI policy. He explains:

The big thing is public-private partnerships, like how do we work together to govern AI responsibly and still achieve all the value—because we don’t want to hold back the value of achievement, but we do want to do it right.

My take 

Qlik’s journey is a testament to the company’s commitment to ethical responsibility, and community engagement. Qlik is setting the tone on leading the way in the data integration and analytics, setting a high standard for the responsible use of AI. Its corporate responsibility can also be seen in the deepening partnership with the United Nations, combining Qlik applications with the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) data system to allow better reporting for meaningful and actionable climate policies. 

Now that we’ve heard Qlik’s ambitions and perspective, it’s time to hear from its customers to see how these developments are playing out.

Originally Appeared Here

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