By Rick Ryan - Envisn, Inc.
In an interview two weeks ago, IBM’s new president, Virginia Rometty, cited Analytics as the single most important focus for the technology company going forward. Analytics is what makes it possible to put the flood of Big Data to productive and profitable use. Other areas of IBM’s focus are enabled by Analytics. Smarter Planet is essentially about being able to mine all of the sensor data now available from multiple real time sources. And Cloud Computing makes it possible to access massive data sources from anywhere.
The big challenge is how to deal with the Big Data tsunami. It’s only of value if you can integrate it, organize it and then answer the two most important questions:
- What does it mean?
- How can we use it?
Watson and other new technology within IBM will play a role here but the reality is that this is where BI and Cognos 10 come in. Why? Because it is already well established in the market and its infrastructure already exists today in most companies. So take a solid platform, make it better and use it to create and enable the future around Analytics you want to create.
So since the introduction of Cognos 10 some 15 months ago now, one has to ask the question, is Cognos 10 a big deal?
- Right Plan - When IBM acquired Cognos three years ago some expected that Cognos might be subsumed within Big Blue and become nothing more than a new heading in the product catalog. Nothing could be further from the truth. Cognos has become a cornerstone of the analytics focus within IBM and Cognos 10 is a big part of what’s driving the growth in this space. How did this happen? IBM recognized what Cognos offered not just to its existing customers but saw the potential for even greater growth through the ability to broaden the BI platform with Predictive Analytics, TM1, Planning, Statistics and full integration within IBM. IBM made a significant investment in Cognos 10 and the returns are coming in. Year over year growth is as good, or better, than anything Cognos has seen in recent years.
- BI Everywhere - Business Intelligence has been around long enough now and in so many organizations that its widespread use is leveraging even greater adoption. This, plus the ability of mobile apps to put BI anywhere is pushing it down and out within companies and organizations. People need and expect access from anywhere and at any time. Cognos 10 makes this possible.
- Big Picture - Because Cognos 10 is part of a much larger, integrated set of offerings by IBM, customers have more options in terms of growth as their own needs evolve. The integration of Cognos with existing IBM technology such as Lotus looks totally seamless as does that with Microsoft.
- It’s the Platform - A broad spectrum of analytics requires a platform fully capable of delivering it all. Cognos 10 does that very well. Cognos 10 has the broadest level of integration of any BI platform on the market. What’s more, it is well positioned for the future. All of the remaining issues of full web integration of PowerPlay OLAP have been addressed along with integrated collaboration and broad data source usage.
The delivery model is in three levels:
i. Solutions: Customer – Industry – Functional Area
ii. Capabilities: Reporting & analysis, dashboards, In-memory, planning iii. Platform: Access – integrate – model – manage – deploy
- User driven – The ease with which users can now create their own dashboards, interactive graphics and active reports to build their own work platform is impressive. IBM and Cognos listed to customer frustrations around “studio hopping”, difficult and limited interactivity (sound familiar) and the need for simple user interfaces. Then they did something about it. Cognos 10 is clearly the most user friendly BI platform out there.
- Performance – The latest release of Cognos 10 is 6X faster on queries, 40% faster on cubes, and 90% faster on TM1 than the previous version. The initial release of Cognos 10 in the fall of 2010 was also better across the board than Cognos 8.4. Customers can expect that improvements in performance and scalability along these lines will continue going forward. IBM has shown it can deliver.
- Lifecycle Management – The Cognos Achilles heel for a long time was the difficulty of upgrading and migrating from one version to another. Cognos 10 addresses most or all of these issues and more improvements in this area are coming.
So is Cognos 10 a big deal? At this point the answer is an unequivocal yes. It’s clear that the Cognos product set has clearly benefited by being part of IBM. It is broader and deeper than if Cognos had remained a stand alone company and it is the clear leader in its market space. Users have clearly benefited in some key areas, particularly in ease of use and broader capabilities. But what is really significant is how well positioned Cognos 10 is going forward. It is a strong platform that positions IBM well in Analytics as it reinvents itself for its next 100 years.