A Cloud Migration Brings Self-Serve Data to All Parts of the Cinematic Value Chain


The smell of popcorn, the big screen, the shared feeling of being in an audience—there’s nothing quite like going to the cinema. For film lovers in Scandinavia and Finland, Nordisk Film is responsible for much of that experience.

Nordisk Film is a leading Nordic entertainment and experience company. We tell stories through award-winning films, TV series, and immersive games, all of which we produce, distribute, and market. We operate the leading cinema chain in Denmark and Norway, and have a small presence in Sweden. At 106 years old, Nordisk Film is the world’s oldest continuously running movie production company.

We do more than just film. As the co-owner of a range of game development studios and the long-term PlayStation distributor in the Nordic and Baltic countries, gaming is a significant growth area for us. We are also the owners of the largest gift company in Scandinavia, producing gift cards for large corporations under our white-label solution as well as our GoGift brand. We have around 2,000 employees, and in 2022 our revenue was just over half a billion euros.

In addition to producing content for film and TV, we also work on post-production, buying and distributing movie rights for our productions as well as independent and international films, including Hollywood features. Since we also own cinemas, Nordisk Film is part of the entire cinematic value chain—and that means capturing and leveraging our data is quite complex.

A Centralized Platform with Security and Visibility

As head of BI at Nordisk Film, I’m responsible for our central data warehouse and platform and ensuring we enhance our business units through data-driven decision-making. I’ve been with the company since 2014, well before we had a central analytics platform. Instead, we worked with several small targets within the different business units. Eventually, we needed a centralized system that would give us high security and visibility while ensuring everyone sees only the data they need to see.

Moving to the cloud reduces the need for platform maintenance, allowing teams to allocate more time to activities that add value to the business.

Together with our technology partner, Intellishore, we developed a new strategy that included Qlik, an analytics and data integration platform. We adopted Qlik in 2018, and for the first two years, we built solutions for almost all our business areas except finance (more on our finance team shortly).

At that point, we took stock of what we’d done so far and where we wanted to go next. Rather than looking to another solutions provider, we were very excited by all the possibilities that Qlik Cloud could offer us: 

  • First, we saw massive potential in simplifying the user experience, making it easier to introduce employees and partners outside our company to our BI apps. To put this in context, Nordisk Film owns around 50 legal entities, but we also partially own many other companies that are not part of our internal systems. Using Qlik Cloud, we could easily integrate those users onto the platform.
  • Qlik Cloud introduced “capacity users.” This feature would let us determine which users spent enough time in Qlik to require a full analyst license, and we could still allow others to access and use the platform. 
  • I have a small team (only four people). We are responsible for supporting six different business areas and used to spend a lot of time maintaining and managing our servers. We saw an added benefit in moving to the cloud because we could reduce maintenance and allocate more time to activities that add value to the business. We saw a lot of new capabilities in Qlik Cloud that could help us here, such as alerts and application automation. 

For all these reasons, we began migrating to Qlik Cloud in 2022.

Streamlined App Development Facilitates Machine Learning, ESG Reporting, and Cinema 2.0

Deepening our relationship with Qlik helps us achieve much of what we aimed for when making this transition. We streamlined our app development process and established shared data spaces so people can only see the data they are supposed to access. This process heightened our data governance practices, specifically how we promote apps from development into the production spaces.

Regarding Qlik usage, we have 53 developers, 153 active users (people with analyst licenses), 329 capacity users (people using the platform weekly), and 466 distinct monthly users. This last group resulted in more than 5,500 sessions in Qlik. We have 932 apps, of which 274 were used in the past 30 days.

We are also preparing our data sets for more advanced analysis, like machine learning (ML). With Qlik AutoML, we are starting to examine data sets we hadn’t considered before. These will help us predict and plan for the busiest times at our cinema chain to maximize margins. Using data from IoT sensors, POS systems, and ticket sales, we can gain more insights about things like visitor traffic at our locations and whether there’s a correlation between a customer's purchases and the type of film they watch. Weather is a huge factor in someone’s decision to go to the cinema, so we are also starting to build Qlik AutoML models around weather data.

Machine learning models are starting to examine unexplored data sets to gain insights about the visitor experience.

We’re doing similar work to understand energy consumption in our cinemas, which is critical in relation to sustainability and environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) reporting. One of our projects is to investigate whether people turn on lights and projector equipment too early in the day or if they’re left on overnight. Public health measures relating to COVID skewed our yearly consumption data for 2020 and 2021. From now on, however, energy consumption will be part of our ESG package, and we will rely on this data to have a positive impact.

Accelerating Digital Finance

In 2022, we partnered again with Intellishore on a new project, Digital Finance, across all financial functions at Nordisk Film. The primary purpose was to replace old technology and greatly increase our analysis platform. We did much of our financial reporting in soon-to-be-deprecated OLAP cubes, with Excel reporting on top. We wanted to convert that Excel reporting into a well-governed platform like Qlik. As mentioned, we needed a high level of security, and to comply with competition law, we could not allow the people in movie production to see the data from movie distribution, for example. Getting the data onto a governed platform like Qlik solved many of these issues. At the same time, we wanted the platform to be as easy as possible for people in finance to use, both for ad hoc and standard reporting.

In the final architecture we set up with Intellishore, our data source is Microsoft Dynamics. Despite having so many legal entities in Nordisk Film, almost all use the same ERP system, so we have good data quality. TimeXtender handles everything related to the data transformation, including storing the data in SQL and optimizing the data loading structure. Then, we set up the Qlik Data Gateway and introduced some intelligent data loaders in Qlik Cloud, which speed up the process.

For anyone in a hybrid environment, where ERP systems within firewalls make it difficult to get this data into the cloud, the Qlik Data Gateway is a great solution. It only loads new, updated, or deleted records, and the intelligent data loaders distribute data into each data space for the business units. Having a timestamp of when data was loaded simplifies and clarifies the work for end users. In a future phase of this project, Qlik Replicate will act as a highway to stream data to Qlik Cloud for apps that require data in near-real time. Since introducing the new finance model, we’ve gained 50–60 active users. 

Improved Capabilities Enhance the Experience

Today, we have a centrally governed platform that enables all business units to leverage new apps, and we even have an app maker that allows users to create copies of other apps to work on further. If I’m a business analyst in the finance department of our cinemas, for instance, I can create and work on a copy of the customer ledger app.

Our Qlik Cloud migration has been hugely successful. It has vastly improved our business, offering us many new capabilities, with more on the way. A hybrid setup has challenges, but the platform has solved our previous headaches, and our new capabilities allow us to be even more data-driven. As we determine more ways to offer a fantastic experience possible, we can help people continue to fall in love with the cinema.