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An Inside Look At The Fastest Growing Company In Business Intelligence Software

With a new Silicon Valley office, a unique approach to BI and a seasoned management team, QlikTech is planning an IPO next year.

Who is the fastest growing company in the sizzling business intelligence software market? Probably someone you've never heard of. But with a new Silicon Valley office, a unique approach to BI and a seasoned management team, QlikTech has become the market's rising star.

QlikTech's sales last year were up 97% to $44 million, following two years of 75% annual sales gains, and it's on track to achieve similarly strong growth this year, says VP of marketing Anthony Deighton.

By comparison, the overall business-intelligence market grew 11.5% in 2006, according to a new report by IDC, and no contender came close to QlikTech's growth. Among the market's heavweights, the best performers were Microsoft, up 28% to $480 million, and SAS, up 17% to $679 million; among the smaller players the closest that came to QlikTech's growth was Panorama Software, up 66% to $38 million.

QlikTech's astronomical growth also runs contrary to what's happening as a result of BI market consolidation. Smaller vendors, which comprise about 30% of the overall BI market, are increasingly having a hard time making sales, and that segment's sales growth was just 7% last year, according to IDC.

What's allowing QlikTech to make big sales is a technology it calls "in-memory" business intelligence, which makes use of today's 64-bit servers and allows BI to be conducted with little help from the IT department.

The traditional method of BI calls for the IT department to take the data that needs to be analyzed and build online analytical processing cubes that provide users with answers to a set of questions. When new sets of questions are required, new cubes must be built. "Twenty years ago, computers were slow and memory expensive, so that was right approach," says Deighton. "But new 64-bit technology and memory are much more readily available. The effect of that platform shift is that this idea of doing that analysis in real time, in memory, becomes much more realistic."

As a result, Deighton says, QlikTech is winning deals where BI is expanding beyond the traditional jobs roles of executives and analysts, and into broader workplace roles like customer service reps and insurance claims agents. Campbell Soup Co. uses the company's key product, the QlikView analytical reporting tool, for inventory management. At 3M, thousands of employees use QlikView, says Deighton.

U.S. companies make up the majority of QlikTech's sales, but that wasn't always the case. The company was founded in 1994 in Sweden and initially grew very slowly; it had only five customers by 1999. At that time Swedish venture capitalist Mans Hultman joined as CEO, poured money into the company, and achieved a 1,500 base of mostly European customers by 2004.

Also that year, a new round of venture capital poured $12.5 million into QlikTech, and the company moved its headquarters from Sweden to Radnor, Penn. Paul Wahl, former president of Siebel Systems and former CEO of SAP America, joined the board. Rick Pitts, former VP at SAP who ran it's All-in-One software for small and midsize businesses, was appointed CEO of QlikTech U.S. Deighton used to run Siebel's employee-relationship management software business unit.

Last month, QlikTech opened an office in San Mateo, Calif., to expand its presence across the U.S. and, it hopes, establish partnerships to couple its technology with offerings from other software vendors.

Larger vendors like Microsoft, Oracle and SAP have been building up their BI offerings through acquisitions, but QlikTech has no immediate plans to be owned by anyone but its own shareholders. It's planning an initial public offering of stock for next year.

As a 13-year-old company, QlikTech is far from a startup. But because of an approach to BI that can now take advantage of widely available 64-bit servers, it's become the hottest company in one of the hottest markets in software.

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