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IBM Cognos Review
It provides dashboard visualizations for executives to see what's going on.


Valuable Features:

This is an all-in-one solution that provides reporting for a lot of different reports and visualizations. It provides one tool that works for 90% of situations. 

Cognos has a lot of tools such as:

  • The Report Studio that is aimed at professional report writers.
  • The Query Studio that is aimed at business users.
  • The Event Studio that is used to check conditions before triggering an action.
  • The PowerPlay transformer to build cubes.
  • The Analysis Studio to report against cubes and others such as planning.

So it covers a lot of the areas that are required for reporting. As far as visualization is concerned, Cognos is trying to keep up with the others. Cognos version 11 has a lot of new charts but still not as good as the other tools that are dedicated for visualization like Tableau, Spotfire etc.

Improvements to My Organization:

This product has helped to provide basic reporting for reducing manual work as well as some dashboard visualizations for executives to see what's going on in one glance.

Room for Improvement:

Performance and visualizations are aspects which need to be improved. Cognos doesn't have all the charts that are available in the other tools such as Tableau, Spotfire etc. Cognos is trying to keep up with the others and Cognos version 11 has a lot of new charts but still it has a lot of room for improvement.

Cognos charts are not as fast as those of the other tools, even with DQM (dynamic query mode). I think these are the two main reasons why a lot of companies are using Tableau/OBI/ Spotfire even when they have Cognos.

Use of Solution:

I have used this solution for eleven years.

Stability Issues:

Cognos is very stable, after tweaking server settings.

Scalability Issues:

Cognos has different licensing models. PVU license limits CPU and there is need to add that for more users.

Technical Support:

It's a mix. Some support agents are very good while some don't have a clue of what's going on.

Previous Solutions:

We did not use any other solution.

Initial Setup:

The initial setup is very straightforward. The basic installation is very easy and you can start reporting.

Cost and Licensing Advice:

Make sure to assess the number of concurrent users and the type of users, i.e., studio vs viewers. Also, there is need to assess the purchase license accordingly so as to avoid audit penalties.

Other Advice:

This product is easy to install and you can start reporting off. However, it needs a lot of tweaking according to the different setups and also has a lot of components that need different skill sets.

It's all consolidated in one solution, so it doesn't have a few things that the other small tools do better. 

Cognos is easy to learn and I see a lot of the new consultants in this field, more than in any other BI tool. However, becoming an expert takes a lot of time.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.

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