IBM Cognos Review

Flexibility: It offers a variety of technical solutions to better satisfy each customer’s needs and scenarios.

What is our primary use case?

I primary use IBM Cognos BI as the preferred tool for my consultancy activity. I use it since 1999, and I've worked with IBM Cognos suite since its version 5.5 until the current version 11.

What is most valuable?

Flexibility: It offers a variety of technical solutions to better satisfy each customer’s needs and scenarios.

IBM Cognos BI (version 10) is a suite of different modules for reporting and analysis:

  • Report Studio: This is the most powerful and sophisticated tool for professional reporting.
  • Workspace Advanced: A mid-powerful tool, to create reports of medium complexity.
  • Query Studio: An easy tool to quickly create ad-hoc queries (with a simple list, or crosstab, or chart).
  • Analysis Studio: A simple tool to create analysis (like pivot-tables in Excel).
  • Workspace: A very basic tool to build and show dashboards using other reports components.
  • Metric Studio: A tool to create scorecards showing trends for corporate KPI and metrics.
  • Event Studio: A tool that notifies the user of events happening in corporate data.

Each of them is perfect for a specific need.

For the metadata modeling activity, as well, Cognos offers several modeling tools:

  • Framework Manager: The most flexible and used tool for metadata modeling.
  • Transformer: The tool to create multi-dimensional cubes (MOLAP cubes).
  • Cube Designer: The tool to create dynamic cubes (ROLAP cubes).
  • Metric Designer: The tool to create data packages to be used by Metric Studio to create scorecards.

Depending on how much data has to be analyzed (or other factors), the modeler will decide which modeling tool to use.

How has it helped my organization?

I’m a freelancer; I am a consultant. I’ve helped hundreds of customers to better understand their business and to make better decisions.

What needs improvement?

I think IBM Cognos BI solution needs improvements in:

1) chart quality: many other competitors have charts and graphics that look much better and that provide dynamic effects. Cognos doesn't.

2) data source connections: many other competitors support connections to cloud and innovative data sources (Google Analytics, Facebook, Microsoft Azure, MongoDb, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft SharePoint and so on), that IBM Cognos BI cannot connect to.

3) maps: IBM Cognos BI have only 35 predefined maps. If you need a map of a particular area, you need to buy it (in MapInfo or Esri formats) and convert it in Cognos format, and this is pretty a long way. Furthermore, it's very inconvenient to use Google Maps maps, since this kind of integration is not native.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I sometimes encounter stability issues, but they’re rarely really issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have never encountered any scalability issues. The product easily scales very well.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would rate technical support between 2 and 3 our of 10. Several times in the past, I have needed the help of IBM official technical support, and there was more lost time than any actual contribution received. The IBM technical support people often know IBM products less than I do. So, nowadays, I no longer make use of technical support; it’s almost always useless. This means I do not waste a lot of time for no reason.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I’ve always used this solution.

How was the initial setup?

When I initially studied the IBM Cognos software, it was not so easy to fully understand, but now all in all it’s not so complex.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I did not evaluate other options before choosing IBM Cognos.

In the last weeks I'm having a look to Tableau Software.

What other advice do I have?

Be sure you have an expert Cognos consultant before starting.

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

5.5 through 11.0.5
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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1 Comment

author avatarLea Goldberger
Top 20Consultant

Can you give examples of large scale integrations you've used IBM Cognos with?