IBM Cognos Review
Cognos BI is fairly easy to use provided you have a good data structure/framework under the hood.

Valuable Features

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.

Deployment Issues

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.

Stability Issues

The product is extremely stable. Unless someone develops and tries to run a "runaway" report, we rarely have any stability issues.

Scalability Issues

We have not had to scale yet.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Customer Service:

Customer service has always been responsive and helpful, and most of our tickets have been resolved very quickly.

Technical Support:

They are very perficient in their work.

Initial Setup

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.

Implementation Team

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.

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing

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.
2 visitors found this review helpful


Joop MoerkensReal UserTOP 20POPULAR

Question: what was the source of the success? The tool in itself, or the acceptance by the organization of the data processed by it? What convinced internal stakelholders to rely on the version of the truth represented by the Cognos tooling?

Like (0)08 September 16
Jonathan Mc KnightReal UserTOP 10

All very good questions, Joop. I'll answer them one at a time.

1) What was the source of the success? I think the success of our implementation was two-fold. First, it was championed by a combination of IT and Finance, so buy-in from the rest of the company was easier because Finance was pushing for it. Second, the tool did help. Cognos BI is easy to use, so once we started turning out reports for users from different departments, they quickly realized how much easier it is to use Cognos BI than compiling and manipulating spreadsheets as they had been doing.

2) What convinced internal stakeholders to rely on the version of the truth represented by the Cognos application? I would again point to the fact that Finance was one of the champions of the implementation. Finance wanted one source of the truth, and so everything was tied to the financials. (In a perfect world, this would have been a simple process, but it's not a perfect world.) When reports can be repeatedly produced and all of the output always gives the same results, it becomes easier for stakeholders to rely on that version of the truth. The buy-in certainly wasn't overnight, but it happened within the first six months of the Cognos BI rollout.

Hope that helps you!

Like (0)08 September 16
Bob EdisConsultantTOP 5LEADERBOARD

I have been told that the version of Cognos Analytics to be released in Q4 this year includes some really good new features including RAVE2 (D3) charts and a map engine (NOT like Map Manager). Also full support for FWM packages across the components (current only Reports can use FWM packages).

Like (0)12 September 16
Jonathan Mc KnightReal UserTOP 10

Bob, I was told the same thing as far as the mapping engine and the FWM packages. I heard there would probably be two releases - one at the end of this month and another by the end of the year. The FWM package update would be at the end of this month, and mapping at the end of the year. I'm not sure which release will include the RAVE2 updates. Of course, my information could be wrong or incomplete.

Like (0)12 September 16
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