One of the features I find most valuable in the latest release is the Visual Storytelling functionality and being able to tell stories visually with your data. While stories are similar to dashboards in that they use visualizations to share insights, they differ as they provide a description over time and are actionable in nature.
Improvements to My Organization:
This product has improved the way our organization and our customers truly interact with information, really putting the capabilities into the hands of the key decision makers and not having to rely on IT resources that do not have the business knowledge to do this for them; true self-service analytics.
Room for Improvement:
The key areas for improvement are the administrative capabilities that are largely the same from the series 8/10 versions and the ability to use Framework Manager packages and models on new dashboards, etc. The introduction of data sets in the latest version demonstrates that this functionality is going to be offered around the corner.
Use of Solution:
While IBM Cognos Analytics has been on the market for under a year, I have been using the Cognos platform for nearly 15 years and have seen it continue to grow and mature.
I have not encountered any stability issues. The IBM Cognos platform has been around a while and with the right people doing the install/configuration/management of the environment, it is pretty rock solid. IBM is coming out with new minor releases every 2-3 months, which is great for customers as you can tell the commitment to excellence with the product is there.
I have not encountered any scalability issues.
Technical support has been pretty responsive. I run an IBM Cognos professional services organization and we become the front-line support for many of our customers.
I have been installing/configuring IBM Cognos BI environments for years and I will have to say the documentation for the first iteration of IBM Cognos Analytics 11.0.0 was not complete and created a few challenges. The subsequent releases have been more complete and the latest version is pretty solid.
Cost and Licensing Advice:
Pricing and licensing really comes down to what customers are looking to achieve, as there are lots of options out there. IBM Cognos Analytics offers a fully managed SaaS Cognos in the cloud offering, where a customer does not have to deal with infrastructure, maintenance, administration, or provisioning. This is a great option for many SMBs out there. For other larger customers, it comes down to the number of users, what roles they will have, and internal IT capabilities that they have. One of IBM Cognos’ greatest strengths is the ability to cover the whole spectrum of customers at a price point that is acceptable to all.
Other Solutions Considered:
I led a large vendor selection process at a former company around 13 years ago where I had 10 vendors come in and do a product demonstration based on our business requirements and from there, I was able to narrow the field down to Information Builders and SAP BusinessObjects. For the flexibility, self-service capabilities, and in-memory OLAP functionality, Cognos was the clear winner for us.
I am a strong believer in having the right tool to do the right job. I believe IBM Cognos BI has been and continues to be a solution that I have seen great results in and continue to recommend. However, I recognize that there are strengths that other vendors bring to the table and solutions that could be a better fit in some circumstances.
It does a fantastic job of promoting true self service and allowing line of business users the ability to load their data without the need for IT involvement. Non-technical people can easily upload their data and start to perform analyses of their business creating attractive dashboards and asking key questions based on empirical data.
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: I run an IBM Cognos professional services organization that is an IBM Business Partner.