We are able to combine data from multiple sources across the organization and report on the information as a single source. This allows us to provide insights we could not easily determine before our BI implementation. It is fairly easy to use provided you have a good data structure/framework under the hood.
Improvements to My Organization:
Our company was able to do a profitability analysis previously unavailable to us due to the nature of our data. We were able to save approximately $650k per year after cutting unprofitable areas of business.
Additionally, Cognos BI provides us "one source of the truth." Everyone uses the same data and can access the same reports, so everyone is on the same page.
Room for Improvement:
The visualizations are nothing flashy, but they can be customized (with some extra work). I think the new version might help a bit with this. Report authoring can be a bit overwhelming for new users, but the new version helps with this as well.
Our company is currently on version 10.2.2, but there is a new version available called Cognos Analytics (aka version 11). We are in the early stages of upgrading to Cognos Analytics. The newer version has an updated interface that looks and feels much more modern. Charts, graphs and other visualizations are fairly basic in both versions, but you can create custom visualizations using JSON thanks to the Cognos Rapidly Adaptive Visualization Engine (RAVE). I believe Cognos Analytics makes it a bit easier to create and customize RAVE visualizations, but I can’t confirm that because I have not tried it.
In version 10.2.2, Report Studio (used for authoring complex reports) can be a bit overwhelming for new users because of all of the buttons and options available. Cognos Analytics still has all of the buttons and options, but the interface is smarter and more streamlined. You’ll only see relevant options for the part of the report you are developing.
Use of Solution:
I've used IBM Cognos BI in some form for over 12 years.
The only issues we have ever encountered are in small details like making sure IIS is set up exactly as needed and making sure all of the images/files our company has added or customized are in the correct folder location on the server.
The product is extremely stable. Unless someone develops and tries to run a "runaway" report, we rarely have any stability issues.
We have not had to scale yet.
Customer service has always been responsive and helpful, and most of our tickets have been resolved very quickly.
They are very perficient in their work.
It is pretty straightforward, but it needs to be planned out in detail and executed a few times to make sure there are no hiccups.
I have done both. The original implementation was done by a vendor team (before I was hired), and I have since performed two upgrades myself. The vendor team was capable, but they didn't understand our needs as completely as I have come to know them.
We were able to save in excess of $650k per year using reports created through Cognos BI. In addition, we have achieved significant time savings from many of our end users. That ROI can't really be measured.
Cost and Licensing Advice:
Don't hesitate to ask for a better price, especially on new licenses. The more you buy, the steeper the discount that can be offered. Also, it seems like you can get a better deal by going through a third-party vendor than directly through IBM many times.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.