The ability to interface with multiple server types (databases) to retrieve data and report on that data in an all-inclusive environment is beyond a doubt the best feature. The reporting interface takes getting used to, but once you familiarize yourself with it, you can create some truly amazing graphical and informational reports.
Improvements to My Organization:
BI has allowed our product to become open ended as far as the client data is concerned. We have proprietary reporting that is standardized but doesn’t capture everything. BI expands that functionality to include any and all customization a client may have and still get their data.
Room for Improvement:
The GUI for reporting isn’t very user friendly, so beginners struggle with feeling overwhelmed when seeing it for the first few times. I spent my first two years just getting used to where everything was and how to script simple things without looking them up. A better dictionary of examples for functions would have gone a long way with helping me.
They’ve improved it and it’s much better than it was, as well as the tooltips on the page, so I’m thinking they had similar feedback in the past. When I engage new clients on the product, though, they are almost always overwhelmed by the interface and I don’t have a good solution other than redesign. They could create a secondary Page Design pane that is simpler for beginners. They could even merge Query Studio with Report Studio, and as you familiarize yourself with the Query pane and need a little more functionality, you can flip to the Report Studio pane. I would prefer a secondary pane option over an entire redesign since I’m familiar with the current structure.
Use of Solution:
I’ve used Cognos BI for over seven years now.
I have not encountered any stability issues.
I have not encountered any scalability issues.
I personally have had no problems with IBM tech support, though my experience is from a reporting standpoint not an implementation standpoint.
I did not previously use a different solution.
Cost and Licensing Advice:
The only advice I can give here is that there are several third-party companies that will handle implementation as well as provide continued support post-production. I recommend doing your homework and hiring one of them to take care of implementation and support, if you don’t have a dedicated team to do so internally.
Other Solutions Considered:
Before choosing this product, I did not evaluate other options.
There is a huge cost up front to purchase and get it off the ground, but once you have it, you won’t regret it. To have access to all of your data at your fingertips is impressive and I think it’s a must have for medium and large companies (+500 employees).
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: It’s my understanding my company has partnered with IBM regarding Cognos BI, but I’m not privy to the details. I know we do some testing and experimentation with them but don’t know to what extent.