IBM Cognos Review

Allows developers to manipulate data and create reporting applications.

What is our primary use case?

Cognos Business Intelligence (BI) 10.x is a web-based, integrated BI software suite owned by IBM. It provides a toolset for reporting, analysis, scorecarding and the monitoring of events and metrics. The software consists of several components which are designed to meet the different information requirements in a company.

How has it helped my organization?

I have many clients using Cognos for their ad-hoc query and standardized reporting needs. It fits the category of an “enterprise” business intelligence platform very well. It also integrates seamlessly with IBM’s Cognos TM1 financial performance management solution for corporate planning, budgeting, and forecasting needs.

What is most valuable?

One of the strong suits of Cognos is its robust corporate reporting capability. Its flagship Report Studio component allows BI developers to transform data in many ways, create pixel perfect objects and standard reporting applications.

What needs improvement?

One key area for improvement is the need to improve the self-service nature and functionality of the product in terms of visual analytics. This is something IBM has recognized and addressed in order to more effectively compete against other leading visualization products like Qlik Sense and Tableau. They have made major improvements in their latest release of the Cognos v11 platform also known as “Cognos Analytics”. This version of the product has been redesigned with a more intuitive interface and offers complete guided and business self-service capabilities designed to quickly identify and gain insights from your data.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have not experienced many issues in terms of stability. The product is fairly stable, especially if you are keeping up with the latest releases of upgrades and fix packs.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

With the proper end-user training and internal support, the product seems to scale well. As stated before, it fits the category/need of an “enterprise” business intelligence platform very well.

How are customer service and technical support?

If you pay for IBM software technical support and work with a “supported” version of the product, then support is usually very helpful. Depending on how business critical the case is, they are fast in their response times.

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

I work with customers who have multiple BI solutions in-house. I position Cognos where I see fit, utilizing the application for its strongest assets and where I see the most value-add.

How was the initial setup?

Depending on customer needs, complexity and size of the BI environment, the initial setup can be tailored to either being very straightforward or robust/complex.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

If you are going to invest in a reputable quality BI solution, be prepared to not be frugal in terms of pricing/licensing. IBM Cognos offers competitive pricing similar to other BI vendors in the market.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Many organizations are using a blend of different BI solutions and there are many products/solutions on the market today. I encourage my customers to evaluate different products. Based on their business/project needs, they can then choose the best solution that fits their criteria and culture.

What other advice do I have?

I would give the same advice as I would with implementing any BI tool/solution. Focus on building a stable and scalable foundation that’s built to last and also intuitive to the end-user. Place an emphasis on data governance/quality, change management and continuous product training for developers and consumers. This is extremely important when implementing any new BI/Analytics technology.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: My company is an IBM business partner.
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