Cognos Review
No compelling reasons to choose Cognos unless the suite of products offers a particularly good fit with needs, or the organization has an existing heavy commitment to IBM products and services


IBM Cognos is a sprawling set of products aimed at providing a complete BI solution for organizations of all sizes, but specifically large organizations. Unlike some other offerings that incorporate data mining and predictive analytics capability, Cognos is targeted specifically at the traditional reporting and analysis tasks using a variety of presentation techniques. These include dashboards, graphs, charts, reports, tables and so on. For organizations that have not yet implemented an organization wide solution to this need Cognos is a prime candidate. Perhaps the strongest feature is the ability of offer an enterprise wide, integrated BI environment. And you wouldn’t expect anything less from IBM, it does major on infrastructure after all. Having said this Cognos provides a necessary, but hardly sufficient set of tools to gain commercial advantage. It may satisfy the needs of administrative and planning functions, but provides very little opportunity to employ techniques for embedding intelligence into applications. For this users will need to embrace IBM SPSS as a separate set...

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.


AlanMacNeillReal User

Most of your first paragraph is correct...however....I would take great issue with " It may satisfy the needs of administrative and planning functions, but provides very little opportunity to employ techniques for embedding intelligence into applications."

The Cognos suite has *plenty* of tools to do any integration you may wish to any tool you may wish, if you actually know how to use Cognos (as opposed to just relying on what simple drag and drops provide). Yes, if you want to get predictive without having to do the math yourself, at the moment it requires an SPSS license to create the math for you...however, if you have a suffecient mathematical background, you can create the model yourself, Cognos provides a full mathematical suite of weighting and calculations for this...all SPSS is required for is, again, if you want to "push a button and have it done for me".


Well I don't think we are disagreeing particularly - if I may say so. But building your own data mining tools is a bit onerous -SVMs, neural nets and random forests for example require considerable skills to build - and why reinvent the wheel? But if you do have the math/machine learning/stats/programming skills to do this then of course it can be done.

Arpit AgrawalConsultant

I am not disagreeing with your comment Martin but I would like to add to there can be numerous reasons for organizations to choose Cognos, I would agree the growth pattern I have seen with Cognos is less compared to the other BI options available in the Market. Companies who need very flexible reports involving lot of customizations can always relay on Cognos. As the reports are purely XML a lot of customization and different ways to make changes can be implemented. The web authoring interface for Cognos is really good compared to tool like Microstrategy which is indeed very popular, Cognos also provide lot of financial solutions like Cognos planning which can be used to Develop budgets and forecasts faster and more efficiently. Cognos also allows a non-technical user to design complex reports by dragging and dropping existing reports or parts of reports as widgets onto a canvas. This tool is called Business Insight, allows a business user to reuse existing content to create and share interactive dashboards.
IBM is moving slow in this fast changing Business Intelligence space and I would personally would like to see what they do next with Cognos.
If we talk about stats Cognos products are still used by over 23,000 companies, around the world, and are consistently ranked in the top 10 category of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence.
In case you have any questions/queries I would be happy to assist. Feel free to reach out to me.
Thanks and Regards
Arpit Agrawal
Business Intelligence Consultant

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