Livewired vs. Hardwired Data

In the digital age, business users need analytics tools that surface anomalies, the unexpected connections in the data. Unfortunately, these unexpected connections would not be seen if the analytics tool uses a relational data layer, where the data is connected by a human based on pre-canned business questions.

As the name applies, relational analytics tools work based on the relationships between data tables, which means the users can only “traverse” in the data based on the pre-defined relationships, which would prohibit them from seeing the unexpected connections defined by the data.

On the other hand, with Qlik’s Associative technology, the connections between data points are defined by the natural associations found in the data, not by the data table relationships defined by a human.

This difference becomes even more important as the analytics technologies start to leverage AI. At Qlik, we are building our AI and Natural Language capabilities with the data layer that “livewires” itself. Let me explain you what I mean by “livewire” by using an analogy from human brain.

Born Unfinished – Human Brains are Livewired

At birth, we humans are helpless. We spend about a year unable to walk, about two more before we can articulate full thoughts, and many more years unable to fend for ourselves. We are totally dependent on those around us for our survival.

Now compare this to many other mammals. Dolphins, for instance, are born swimming; giraffes learn to stand within hours; a baby zebra can run within forty-five minutes of birth.

Across the animal kingdom, our cousins are strikingly independent soon after they’re born.

On the face of it, that seems like a great advantage for other species – but in fact it signifies a limitation. Baby animals develop quickly because their brains are wiring up according to a largely pre-programmed routine. But that preparedness trades off with flexibility. Imagine if some unfortunate rhinoceros found itself on the Arctic tundra, or in the middle of urban Tokyo. It would have no capacity to adapt (which is why we don’t find rhinos in those areas!).

In contrast, humans are able to thrive in many different environments, from the frozen tundra to the high mountains to bustling urban centers. This is possible because the human brain is born remarkably unfinished. Instead of arriving with everything wired up, which I call it “hardwired”, a human brain allows itself to be shaped by the details of life experience. And I call this “livewired”.

You should not feel like the baby rhinos in the middle of urban Tokyo when analyzing data

Now I would like to use this analogy for analytics and the way to explore data. When you use relational data based analytics tools, the relationships in the data is already created, hardwired by a developer, based on the assumptions he has for the business questions you may have. The data structure is already hardwired. This is the only way these technologies can work.

On the other hand, imagine a technology, that allows itself to be shaped by the connections that exists in the data. Instead of arriving with everything wired up by a developer for the pre-canned business questions, it knows the connections in the data and allows you to explore the data from any directions and perspectives. Now this would provide you a huge flexibility and advantage because every day you have a new business question, and with the “livewired” data, you can explore it and gain unexpected insights.


This article was written by Elif Tutuk and originally appeared here: