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IBM Cognos OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

IBM Cognos is #6 ranked solution in top Reporting Tools and #8 ranked solution in top Business Intelligence Tools. IT Central Station users give IBM Cognos an average rating of 8 out of 10. IBM Cognos is most commonly compared to Tableau:IBM Cognos vs Tableau. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a computer software company, accounting for 26% of all views.
What is IBM Cognos?

Cognos Software is IBM's Business Intelligence and Performance Management solution, offering BI, strategy management, financial performance, and data analytics applications. Cognos caters to all levels in an organization with products designed for individuals, workgroups, departments, mid-size companies, and big enterprises.

IBM Cognos was previously known as Cognos, Cognos Analytics, IBM Cognos Analytics.

IBM Cognos Buyer's Guide

Download the IBM Cognos Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: November 2021

IBM Cognos Customers

More than 23,000 leading organizations across multiple industries use Cognos. Some examples of Cognos customers include BMW Financial Services, Quinte Health Care, Troy Corporation, Michigan State University, and GKN Land System.

IBM Cognos Video

Pricing Advice

What users are saying about IBM Cognos pricing:
  • "Pricing should be improved."
  • "It is my understanding that the cost is very low. It's not very expensive."
  • "The pricing of this product is meant for medium to large-scale enterprises."
  • "It is quite pricy. I think Microsoft BI is cheaper. Tableau might also be cheaper, but it also depends on the usage. If you have very many users, Cognos can be a problem. It could be cheaper than Tableau but not for so many users. If you have a few thousand users, Tableau, which is generally quite expensive, can be cheaper than Cognos."

IBM Cognos Reviews

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SD
Sr. Data Warehouse Architect at a tech vendor with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Stable product but low ease of use and time-consuming support

Pros and Cons

  • "I have worked on the features like dashboards and stories, and I do like them a lot."
  • "I would like to have predictive and forecasting capabilities in Cognos. It's one thing to do reporting, and another thing to easily predict or forecast certain data points, which is very important for all the clients."

What is most valuable?

Due to the way our product is designed, it has not been possible for us to use Cognos because of one of their issues. When we upgraded to Cognos 11, there was an issue with this version and we are not able to use the dynamic query mode. So essentially, we've not been able to use the dashboards and other kinds of reports in Cognos 11.

In terms of Cognos 11, we primarily upgraded due to the support for Cognos 7 going away. I have worked on the features like dashboards and stories, and I do like them a lot. We haven't been able to use them recently. Most of the reports we've used are upgraded versions of legacy reports.

What needs improvement?

In terms of what could be improved with this product, the speed could be better.

The second thing I feel is lacking in Cognos 11 is usability - ease of use. I find Tableau much easier to use.

I have not used stories and dashboards extensively, but I would like to have predictive and forecasting capabilities in Cognos. It's one thing to do reporting, and another thing to easily predict or forecast certain data points, which is very important for all the clients.

The other thing that should be included in Cognos is Landing Pages. It would be good for the Dashboard Landing Page, if they could make it as easily and attractively as Tableau, that's the only other tool I've used, and theirs is completely visually appealing. The client should want to click and open the Cognos portal to get their data. We have our own product and Cognos is integrated with it. If they're able to get similar data, even if it is not as detailed in our product, they don't have any motivation to go to Cognos. They need to polish their product a little bit to make it more user-friendly and customizable - that would help.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Cognos for about 15-16 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Product stability-wise, I do find Cognos stable. We have faced some issues with memory in our client environments wherein if the client has created a custom report, it may not be optimized. In such cases, the memory gets utilized and the Cognos server goes down. A simple restart does resolve the issue, but that's still an issue if the client has a production server which is using Cognos. These kind of issues are among the biggest pain points we have. Other than that, Cognos has been fairly stable for us.

How are customer service and support?

I am not very satisfied with the technical support that they offering. It's a very time-consuming process. The biggest problem that I see with Cognos is not the product itself, but the support of the product. That's where we always face issues, because whenever we contact IBM support, it's a very long and difficult process to get that thing resolved.

How was the initial setup?

The setup is slightly complex for us because Cognos is basically integrated with our company's product.

So what happens is, we have our product and Cognos is a separate product, a reporting tool for that product. Whenever we release a new version of Cognos, we have to make a sort of handoff from our product to Cognos and we need to create some Custom Namespaces and do other Custom Roles. So for us, the setup is complicated.

But I have installed Cognos out of the box once, as well, and it was very easy. I did face an issue in an early in version 11.0.1, that whenever Cognos started and set up everything, a lot of times RAM use was an issue, even though the system had quite a lot of RAM. But if the system RAM was allocated to the standby memory, then Cognos did not get it. That used to be an issue. However, that issue has been resolved in subsequent versions.

What other advice do I have?

On a scale of one to ten, I would rate Cognos a 7.

I do like the product. I think there is room for improvement. Cognos has started taking steps towards improvement like new solutions such as Tableau, however, there is still quite a way to go. Cognos's framework model requirement does restrict everything. If you want to make any changes to existing reports, it is a tedious process to add some new tables or change joints or things like that, to make it part of the data model. That's one of the main issues that we had. But other than that, I'm quite happy with the product.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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HP
Senior Technical Coordinator - IM and BI at a healthcare company with 11-50 employees
Real User
Top 20
View all the numbers through one single platform to make business decisions, but pay for the privilege

Pros and Cons

  • "A drag-and-drop interface for selecting creating ad hoc reports makes this product very easy to use."
  • "They were lacking in the initial phases of development in the area of big data, and they still need to improve that aspect of the product."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use for the solution is just pure BI (Business Intelligence) delivery.  

How has it helped my organization?

After centralizing the data, the people using the product have the ability to view all the numbers through one single platform. It is also providing them the information they need in order to make their business decisions.  

What is most valuable?

Cognos has a drag-and-drop interface for selecting packages to use in creating their own ad hoc reports and this makes it very easy to use. A second thing that is valuable is the way that it allows you to customize the security.  

What needs improvement?

So far we do not have any issues with the functionality. The cost per year could be improved. They are the leader in the industry and they charge a lot. If you are the end-user and you want to work with the leader you cannot complain about the cost and you have to pay for it.  

If they were going to make improvements, I would say that they could do more related to big data. I think they were lacking in the initial phases of development in this area. I am not sure if they may have addressed these concerns already because I have not seen their new capabilities in more recent releases. But initially, it was lacking strength in the area of big data.  

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this product since I joined this company is 2013. So I have been using it for about seven years.  

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have been running the Cognos environment from 2013 onward. In that time, I have never seen a single instance of it going down. The small bugs come and go just like that. There have been a few small bugs, but never anything that was around for long. Even a product like Microsoft which has tremendous development resources is releasing monthly patches. Every product will have small issues.  

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We currently have mostly data management people using the product and that is a total of about 200 people using the reports.  

How are customer service and technical support?

In my lifetime, I have never had to call technical support for Cognos. That is from my experience. I never had any issue that was too difficult to deal with myself and I never needed to go to them directly. I have no first-hand experience with support. It probably suggests something about the quality of the product if in seven years you never have to consult the company for technical support.  

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

We have not switched. We chose it because it was the industry leader in this category. It was our initial selection and we never went back.  

How was the initial setup?

The setup is straightforward. If the organization has a very complex architecture, I would say it might take many months to implement it properly. But setting up the environment is normally just a couple of hours or maybe a day or two of work. Generally, I would say it is easy to do the initial setup. It was easy for us.  

What other advice do I have?

I think as per my understanding, everyone has their own criterion and measure for the way a product fits into their scenario. If they have the resources and can budget for the investment in this product and if they have the kind of infrastructure that warrants the investment, definitely to go for this product. If the business or user has budget constraints, I would say there are a lot more other options. It comes down to the capabilities of the different solutions and how they satisfy user needs.  

On a scale from one to ten (where one is the worst and ten is the best), I would rate this product a seven-out-of-ten. I keep three points back because I feel that in being a leader, they are missing some of the functionality that they should have already which is somewhat basic. Everything it should be supporting is not there. Big data support came very late into Cognos and the product is too costly, I would say.  

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Learn what your peers think about IBM Cognos. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2021.
554,676 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Barry Morris
BI Cognos Expert at a tech services company with 1-10 employees
Real User
Top 5
Improves sales team effectiveness for an excellent value

Pros and Cons

  • "IBM Cognos improves the effectiveness of the sales team."
  • "In terms of what could be improved, I would say, monitoring, monitoring, monitoring. Some improvements in monitoring would be helpful. I'd like to see more monitoring of specific reports and fields. The way the auditing is now is very limited, so I'd like to see more of that - of the monitoring."

What is our primary use case?

My primary use case for IBM Cognos is reporting.

How has it helped my organization?

I work with a few organizations. IBM Cognos improves the effectiveness of the sales team. For example, we know which offers work and which offers don't. We've got a very good record of that. We have the very good ability to check the meetings of the actual salespeople. When they are made, who is in them, how effective the meetings were compared to what we estimated. It's very, very good on that level.

Additionally, the budget control is very good. We get triggers once a budget is crossed. It creates and sends an email to the person who needs to know, "Hey, you're in trouble. Basically, you've crossed the line." Which a lot of times you don't realize. You have a team of 20 people and the manager gets an email if somebody has done something or there's a problem, and it gives them a very strong awareness.

What is most valuable?

IBM Cognos' feature that I have found most valuable is its ability to create very complex reports which are not available in other tools.

What needs improvement?

In terms of what could be improved, I would say, monitoring, monitoring, monitoring. Some improvements in monitoring would be helpful.

I'd like to see more monitoring of specific reports and fields. The way the auditing is now is very limited, so I'd like to see more of that - of the monitoring.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been implementing IBM Cognos for over 20 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I think they're very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

IBM Cognos is the most scalable option, I think. It can handle thousands of users at the same time. If anything, the only thing you need is hardware that can support it.

This product is usually focused on medium to large organizations.

How are customer service and technical support?

I'm really satisfied with the technical support. We encountered a couple of very unique bugs and IBM was very helpful. People from IBM found a quick workaround and then they solved the problem. So I'm very happy with it.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup usually takes a few hours.

What about the implementation team?

You need a consultant or an integrator for setup. You need somebody to do it. You can't just do it by yourself.

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

In terms of pricing, for what you get, it's a relatively good price. It's good value for what you pay for. But you always want things for cheaper, but the price for what you get is relatively good, because everything is included. Everything, all the extra features that with other products you have to pay for, here they are just included. It's in it. You don't have to pay for sending out emails, you don't need to have an extra mail server. It's in the product.

What other advice do I have?

On a scale of one to ten I would give IBM Cognos a nine.

I would suggest to potential customers that if they don't have experience, there is a lot of information on the web. There are wonderful video clips in YouTube. There are wonderful blogs. Before you decide on a solution, check. There might be something that's even better than what you thought initially. The abilities are so wide and amazing that a lot of times people take a solution which is not the best, because they do what they know and they don't think, "Hey, I can do something much better."

Make sure you know all the options before you choose one. And again, reconsider. If you checked it three or four versions ago, then check again. There are new features all the time that are changing and improving, and you can get amazing results.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Hybrid Cloud
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
FS
RPA Architect & RPA Product Owner at Francisco Sosa
Real User
Top 5
Helpful algorithms, easy to create charts, and supports a wide range of file formats

Pros and Cons

  • "This solution allows you to input a wide range of file formats."
  • "It would be nice to offer free online training on the tool for end-users."

What is our primary use case?

We analyze data from their marketing campaigns, and social networks in order to determine which campaigns are more effective, and which channels are producing the best results.

What is most valuable?

It's quite easy to use.  

The tool has a group of algorithms that allows you to find links rapidly.

It is also very easy to create link charts and analytics quickly.

This solution allows you to input a wide range of file formats. We don't have any kind of issues with this product.

What needs improvement?

The online documentation is good, but it could be better. If the documentation could provide more examples, it would be nice.

It would be nice to offer free online training on the tool for end-users.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for a couple of months.

We are using the Cognos Analytics version.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's a stable solution. It's very strong. 

With Software Assessment Services, you can forget about the infrastructure. The servers and everything that is related to the typical deployment of the tool is easy because it's on the IBM Cloud.

Your focus your attention on using it instead of the technical side of things.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is too soon for me to say anything about the scalability, but my impression is that it doesn't matter the amount of data you need to analyze the tool. The background has the infrastructure and the features that allow you to grow according to what you need.

Currently, we have a couple of users but will have five or six more next month. 

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is fast. 

You have access to a knowledge base where you can look for the issue. If you cannot find it, you can contact IBM support and you will get an answer very quickly.

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

We were working with Power BI on a local deployment, but unfortunately, it suddenly presented some issues. We tried to re-install it but were not successful. To this day, we still don't know why this happened. 

We quickly changed to IBM Cognos and is quite good.

We were also working with Tableau. It's also a local installation. It's very good, very powerful, and has a lot of features you can use to analyze the data. Cognos is easier to use.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was extremely easy.

You log in from your account or create an account and instantly you have access to a 30-day trial or you can test the tool, and create exercises to determine if it is good for you. Once complete you can decide if you want to pay monthly or you can dismiss the tool.

In our case, the only thing that we needed to do was to upload the data, which took a couple of hours.

We don't require any staff to maintain this solution.

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

I don't have this information, it is handled by our finance department. 

It is my understanding that the cost is very low. It's not very expensive.

What other advice do I have?

It's a good idea to take a course online to learn how it works before you start.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

IBM
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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PP
Senior Software Engineer at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 5
Robust, scalable and easy to use

Pros and Cons

  • "The product is a very good reporting tool and is very flexible. It allows for the users to get a scheduled report."
  • "The solution seems to slow down the servers."

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use the solution for reporting.

What is most valuable?

The product is a very good reporting tool and is very flexible. It allows for the users to get a scheduled report. 

We can receive automated reports as well. They are easy to schedule on a weekly or monthly basis.

It is very fast. I mean in means of report output, it's very fast compared to the actual clients involved.

We implemented it on the web. Before that, there was a separate request that needed to be raised for a report to be issued. We needed to fetch items and it took time. Now, according to their requirement, users can schedule their own reports. They get a URL they can access. They have a GUI on the Netcool page and they can access the data using this Cognos report. 

The solution is pretty easy to install. The documentation on offer is very good and it's very instructive.

The user interface is very nice. IBM Netcool interface is the same, and we can implement the same Netcool web GUI on a web page. Within the Netcool servers, we can integrate this tool to give users access to the environment.

The integration and configuration capabilities are very good.

The solution is very simple while also being quite robust and scalable. 

What needs improvement?

As we get new requirements, we need to see if they fit into Cognos. As of right now, it fits our needs, however, that can change.

We've had issues in the past that the solution is still working to resolve.

The solution seems to slow down the servers. We're working with IBM to see if this can be resolved. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is quite good. this type of solution is built for enterprises, and our enterprise environment is quite large. the solution handles it well. It can scale.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is a 10 out of 10. IBM is always available when we raise a PMR with them. Even on Level 2 or Level 3 issues, they will come into the picture and they are used to researching if any issue comes their way. They'll work to replicate the issue in their lab environment and they'll give a resolution. That is very good and helpful for us, for our team. We are extremely satisfied with their level of support. 

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

We did use other reporting in the past, however, it was not as good or as easily scheduled as this product.

How was the initial setup?

The solution is very easy to implement. It's not overly complex or difficult. The documentation is good from IBM. IBM tried to create not too much complexity in terms of integration and configuration. We can usually implement using the IBM docs. It's not a problem.

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

I can't speak to the direct pricing, although it is my understanding that it is high. That said, the solution holds great value.

What other advice do I have?

We are customers and partners.

Currently, we are also using AIOps and IBM Watson also, which is an artificial intelligence tool that is also very easy.

We trust IBM and its platforms. They've optimized for monitoring very well. Their support is also excellent.

I would rate the solution at a nine out of ten. So far, it's been a great solution for us. We're quite happy with its capabilities.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: partner
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SA
Manager - Metrics & Analytics at a computer software company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 5
Great storyboarding and storytelling feature with an easy initial setup

Pros and Cons

  • "The initial setup is quite straightforward."
  • "The AI-based features could be further enhanced by the solution."

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the AI-based questions.

The storyboarding and storytelling features of Cognos Enterprise are both very good.

The solution offers excellent dashboard creation capabilities. I use this extensively.

The initial setup is quite straightforward.

What needs improvement?

Overall, there aren't any features that are lacking in the product.

The AI-based features could be further enhanced by the solution.

I'd like to see more predictive analytics enhancements in future releases.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using this solution for our years now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is very stable. We don't worry about bugs or glitches. It doesn't crash on us at all. It doesn't freeze. It's reliable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

You can scale the solution if you need to. That's not a problem.

At our organization, we have between 150 and 200 people using it at any given time.

How are customer service and technical support?

We've dealt with technical support in the past. We found them to be helpful. We've been satisfied with the service provided.

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

We did use Cognos Express originally. It's built for smaller deployments, and we were on the margins in terms of parameters. In the end, our organization found that it was too small for our needs and we moved up to their Enterprise option.

We also use Phillips and Oracle Business Intelligence as well as Power BI.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup isn't very complex. It's mostly straightforward. However, due to the setup of our organization and its architecture, we did face a few specific complexities during implementation.

We have seven people who handle the administration as needed.

What about the implementation team?

We had someone who helped us set everything up and provide the required technical training.

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

We'd like the pricing to be reduced, of course. We'd like to reduce the cost period.

What other advice do I have?

I'm a user, not a vendor or a reseller.

We use the enterprise version of the product.

In terms of BI tools, I'd advise others that this is one of the best. It was easy to use once we had the initial training that is required. The features such as storytelling, AI based sessions, are great. I would recommend it to other companies for sure.

On a scale from one to ten, I'd rate it at an eight.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Partha-DWBI Analytics Expert
Principal Co-founder at Enterprise BIDI Solutions
Reseller
Top 5
Good reporting and analytics capabilities

Pros and Cons

  • "IBM Cognos offers tools so that you can design and develop your own test queries and reporting solutions."
  • "The performance is a bottleneck and something that can be improved."

What is our primary use case?

We are a solution provider. We come up with the business requirements for our clients, and then we provide a complete solution for catering to their specific needs.

We come up with a customized BPM or a BA or another analytical solution and we offer them as a package. 

What is most valuable?

IBM Cognos offers tools so that you can design and develop your own test queries and reporting solutions. You have Report Studio and Analytics Studio, where they have different tools for designing reports. These include report templates and comping up with canned reports.

What needs improvement?

The performance is a bottleneck and something that can be improved. The way they have designed the framework, the framework manager is a critical part. If you have a properly-designed framework manager then whatever stories you generate through the Report Studio or Query Studio will give you better results. However, if the modeling is incorrect then it will kill your free memory and detract from the performance.

You have to have complete control of the data model, including the hierarchy and the relationships. There are still a lot of loose ends. The way that a many-to-many relationship can be defined within the framework should be brought into the Report Studio and Query Studio. This would be an improvement. 

There can be a recursive effect, where you are pulling resources away from the users. This will eat away the resources and cause them a lot of lag time in their reporting.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been working with IBM Cognos for almost 25 years, since 1996 or 1997. 

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

The pricing of this product is meant for medium to large-scale enterprises. These higher licensing costs are why we recommend Pentaho or Talend for the SME segment. For them, they have to minimize the total cost of ownership. This segment is also interested in open-source enterprise solutions, which will reduce their costs to a large extent.

What other advice do I have?

My advice for anybody who is implementing this product is to ensure that they are clear with the business requirements. You have to define the model in the first place, so you want to design the model with all of the business hierarchies and attributes so that there will be no further re-working it, or any re-production of work in the future. This means that you have to plan your model, get a model, and then framework manage your model well in advance. Then your reporting and analytics will be very good.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: reseller
Miroslav Kosecek
Consultant at a insurance company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 20
A comprehensive and user-friendly solution for business intelligence

Pros and Cons

  • "The comprehensiveness or broadness of the software functions or business intelligence functions that it provides is valuable. It is also quite easy to use and user-friendly."
  • "I would like them to reinclude PowerPlay. One thing that I am missing in the current Cognos is what was formally named PowerPlay. They have basically removed PowerPlay from it, which is something that I fail to understand because it was the most wonderful tool for business intelligence that I've ever used. As far as I know, they don't provide this functionality anymore, so this is one thing that I dislike about Cognos."

What is most valuable?

The comprehensiveness or broadness of the software functions or business intelligence functions that it provides is valuable. It is also quite easy to use and user-friendly.

What needs improvement?

I would like them to reinclude PowerPlay. One thing that I am missing in the current Cognos is what was formally named PowerPlay. They have basically removed PowerPlay from it, which is something that I fail to understand because it was the most wonderful tool for business intelligence that I've ever used. As far as I know, they don't provide this functionality anymore, so this is one thing that I dislike about Cognos.

It is also quite pricey.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Cognos for about 15 years. I used to work in a company that was a partner of IBM. I was selling this product formally, and I created solutions with it. That was about five years ago, and now, I have started to work with it in another company.

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

I mostly worked with Cognos. I have worked a bit with Tableau and Microsoft BI.

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

It is quite pricy. I think Microsoft BI is cheaper. Tableau might also be cheaper, but it also depends on the usage. If you have very many users, Cognos can be a problem. It could be cheaper than Tableau but not for so many users. If you have a few thousand users, Tableau, which is generally quite expensive, can be cheaper than Cognos.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate IBM Cognos a nine out of 10.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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