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“I am half Vulcanian.  Vulcanians do not speculate.  I speak from pure logic.”  — Mr. Spock


I am not a Trekkie, but I am not not a Trekkie either.

At various times in my life I have been intrigued by Star Trek, starting when I was young for the typical reasons, then later in life for various reasons (including the typical).  Several years back (2008ish), RadioLab aired the segment “Overcome by Emotion” which focuses greatly on the work of USC psychology professor Antoine Bechara and a patient he studied known as Elliot, who, after having a tumor removed from his brain, became entirely rational.  Like Spock…pure logic.

It turns out that making a decision based on pure logic is nothing short of impossible.  Send Elliot into the grocery store cereal aisle tasked with buying a single box of “the best cereal” and you could go home, take a nice nap and come back at closing.  Elliot will still be in that aisle vigorously and inexorably trying to logically weigh all the factors, no closer to a decision then when he started.  I, on the other hand, would require less than 30 seconds to choose Lucky Charms.  You could argue that is not the best choice and I would listen joyously while chomping down on a green clover.

What makes Magic Johnson “great” and “enduring” and “special” on the basketball court?  He worked hard at his craft but not harder than everyone.  He was smart, but not smarter than everyone.  He was athletic, but not more athletic than everyone.  He was all those things at once, but there were others he competed against that had all those things in equal and even greater measure.  According to my father, and many other pundits, what made Magic Johnson special on the court was his “Vision”.  Magic had an ability to see, hear and feel things that others missed…to make connections in space, time and human capability beyond the calculable.  Once envisioned, and only then, did the hard work, intelligence and athleticism make it possible for him to execute.

It has many names, “the spark of genius”, “the logical leap”, “intuition” and “vision”.  I prefer to call it the human factor.  Spock, one of the world’s most enduring and beloved characters was, after all, half human.  Even when Spock became overly logical it was countered by the creativity and humanity of Captain Kirk and Bones.  As Adam Nimoy portrayed exceptionally well in his recent documentary about his father, the genius behind the portrayal of the purely logical Spock was very…well…human.


As consultants in the world of data, we repeatedly get asked two questions:

  1. What is the best tool and why?
  2. Will artificial intelligence and machine learning make other tools and humans obsolete?
    (this is rarely asked directly but often asked indirectly)

For the moment, I will leave it to your intuition as to how I would answer the latter and instead I will address the former.

What is the best (data) tool(s)/technology(s)/method(s)?  Why?

I hated those test questions in school, well at least the “why” portion as I was never shy about spouting my choice.  As a consultant, I revel in the opportunity to answer that question as, “It depends.”

But the real answer, the answer I strive to find for each client is:

“The best, is that which provides quality information to all level of visionaries.  That which does not pre-determine the path of thought.  That which rapidly empowers the human factor.”

Disappointed?  I don’t blame you, this is still a form of “It depends” wrapped in fancy words.  In reality, there are so many options and so many different circumstances, that it is nearly impossible to make a definitive statement without context.

Nearly impossible…when it comes to BI and Visual Analytics, Qlik is the one tool that I recommend the most and have for some time.

Qlik provides exceptional visualizations, but there are others with great visual capability.  Qlik provides exceptional multi-source data blending and cleansing, but other tools also provide ETL.  Qlik is highly performant in presenting and analyzing data, but it is not the only tool that provides rapid response.  There are other tools that have these combined capabilities arguably in equal or greater measure.

Behind both QlikView and Qlik Sense, is a one-of-a-kind Associative Analytics Engine designed to gather and present data in an associative way, enabling users to explore and share according to their thought processes (logically or otherwise).  What makes Qlik the best choice is their vision and focus on empowering all to make information based decisions.

Being the egomaniac that I am, I do not like the name, “Associative Analytics Engine” and instead refer to it as, “The Human Factor Empowerment Engine”.