BI-Powered Wine Guide Helps You Pick the Right Bottle

Business intelligence is a great decision-support tool, so why not use it to pick the best wine for your holiday meal?

Which wine goes with lamb and which goes with ham? Don't know the difference between Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir? Want to choose a top-rated bottle that won't break the bank?

With the holidays fast approaching, business intelligence vendor QlikTech has come up with user-friendly way to drill down on thousands of wines so you can come up with just the right bottle. The Wine Press holiday wine guide employs the vendor's QlikView software to help you pair the right wine with the food to be served or analyze wines by variety, region, price, flavor and rating.

You may think there's a stretch between wine selection and business insight, but there are plenty of parallels. The guide's "analysis" view, for example, offers a numerical view of wines by price and rating, as shown with scatter plot and bar chart views that might also be used to drill down on best-performing sales regions or highest-margin products. "If you want to pick wines that have a high value and a high rating, you use your mouse to select wines from the upper right quadrant of the scatter plot," says Anthony Deighton, QlikTech's vice president of marketing.

The wine guide is aimed at highlighting the simplicity of the QlikView interface. "You can't do this with conventional OLAP-based BI tools," Deighton asserts. "After clicking around for less than a minute, you've probably gained insights about how flavors and grapes and food are related to each other, yet you didn't need a three-week training course."

The trend toward operational BI is all about making analysis easy enough for untrained business users, and that trend is now being brought to new extremes, says Deighton. "We're seeing a move toward using BI for more consumer-type applications, with companies exposing QlikView functionalilty to partners and customers," he explains. Examples include Target Express, a UK-based overnight courier that lets customers view KPIs and analyze data on delivery times and address errors. The Alabama Farmers' Coop exposes QlikView functionality to some 90 retail partners so they can drill down on supply chain stats on inventory availability and best-selling products.

One thing the wine guide won't put to the test is QlikView's in-memory analysis capabilities and 64-bit platform support, features that enable the product to handle loads of up to 1 billion records with "near-instant" response times, according to the vendor. The Wine Press data set includes only about 3,000 bottles, plenty for even a well-stocked wine store, but hardly a challenge for a modern BI platform.