In past Vikings discovered America, conquested or colonized parts of England, Russia, Ireland, Scotland, even Southern Italy and Iceland… But in 21st century (as far as this blog is concerned) Sweden became a Motherland of Data Visualization:
Let’s start with most famous Data Viking and most known Storyteller in Data Visualization field – prof. Hans Rosling from Karolinska Institutet and chairman of the Gapminder Foundation (in Stockholm). Gapminder’s team invented the popular and useful 6-dimensional Motion Chart and developed Trendalizer which was bought by Google in 2007, see it here: https://developers.google.com/chart/interactive/docs/gallery/motionchart . The recent example of Prof. Rosling Storytelling you can see here:
In Stockholm you can find another Data Visualization Innovator – Panopticon is a leader in Complex Even Processing and real-time Visual Analytics. Among other innovation here is the example of Panopticon’s invention (by its senior developer Hannes Reijner) of Horizon Chart, see sample here:
and short video about it here:
In 2012 Panopticon posted 112% Year-Over-Year revenue growth (comparable with Tableau). In 2013 (the all stock deal closed by the end of September, 2013.) Datawatch bought Panopticon for $31.4M and I assume it will try to move some R&D from Sweden to Chelmsford, MA.
In Göteborg/Gothenburg you can find R&D office of another DV Leader – Spotfire with 60+ Data Vikings. In 2007 TIBCO bought Spotfire for $195M but even now in 2013 unable to move R&D into USA. So now Spotfire actually has 3+ main offices: TIBCO Corporate Headquarters in California, Spotfire Headquarters in Somerville, MA (estimate is 15% of Spotfire workforce) and main R&D office in Sweden. In addition, lately TIBCO choose the strategy to buy rather then build new features, for example, just in 2013 they added to Spotfire portfolio the following new companies and as result they have even more distributed R&D team now:
- Extended Results (PushBI) in Redmond, WA
- MAPORAMA in Paris, France
- StreamBase Systems, Inc. in Waltham, MA
As a result, despite the fact that Spotfire 6 is the most mature Data Visualization platform on market, people in TIBCO Corporate Headquarters running into risk of do not have enough knowledge of their own major Intellectual Properties.
In southern Sweden – Lund, we can find Swedish Headquarters of the major DV Leader – Qliktech, who occupied almost half of Data Visualization market in terms of sales. At least 140 Data Vikings located in Lund and may be another 200 elsewhere in Sweden. Qliktech’s Data Vikings are major innovators with features like the fastest in-memory Data Engine, most natural Visual Drill-down, Associative Query Language to name a few. This also presents a major problem for Qliktech, because they have Headquarter in Radnor, PA (where only 150+ employees work (estimate), which is less then 10% of Qliktech’s workforce!), Main marketing, sales and support office in Newton, MA (estimate: less then 5% of workforce) and most R&D in Lund (estimate: at least 10% of workforce).
This means that almost 500 technically advanced Data Visualization experts (engineers, developers, architects etc., which is at least 23% of total Qliktech+Spotfire workforce) are still in Sweden. The simple observation of Tableau’s TCC13 conference in September 2013 shows that Tableau’s top managers and officers know their product deeper and more intimately then their counterparts in Qliktech and Spotfire. That is very easy to explain: because 650+ Tableau’s employees (almost 65% of their workforce and most developers, managers and officers) work in the same Main HQ office in Seattle, WA and they obviously talking to each other in-person and often!
My humble advice to Qliktech, Spotfire and Datawatch is simple – gradually relocate as much Data Vikings from Sweden to appropriate headquarters in USA or find and hire local american equivalents of those Swedish geniuses…
As a background for this advice, please consider this information (updated on 11/17/13): statistics of job openings clearly showing that all 3 DV Leaders keep doing (by inertia) what they did in past with only difference that it worked recently for Tableau and does not work for Qliktech and Spotfire. Here are specific examples:
Tableau has 176 job openings (much more then Qlikview (only 80) and Spotfire(only 18) combined)!
97 (55%) of Tableau openings are in Seattle, more then half of Tableau’s openings are engineering and technical positions!
Qliktech has 17 (21%) positions opened in Lund, only 10 (12%) in Radnor and 4 (5%) in Newton, MA. Only 11 (14%, 9 times less then at Tableau in absolute numbers) Qliktech’s openings are engineering and technical.
Spotfire has only 18 openings (1 in Göteborg, 5 in CA, 4 in MA) and only 4 Spotfire’s positions (out of 18, 22% that is) are engineering or technical.
This statistics clearly showing that neither Qliktech no TIBCO see the wrong pattern and huge problem here and that can be a reason for disruption in the future and the gradual relocation of Data Vikings is only way to prevent the danger… And of course, if you can afford, find and hire equal talents in USA Headquarters then by all means keep geniuses in Sweden without relocation which is a half-similar to what Tableau does (HALF is because Tableau historically does not need to maintain the significant R&D office outside of USA)!