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IBM Cognos 10: Upward and Outward

IBM Cognos this week released Cognos 10, a major new release of its business intelligence software that contains lots of new goodies that are sure to bring smiles to its installed base and tempt some SAP BusinessObjects customers to jump ship.

I spent two days in Ottawa in September getting the IBM and Cognos 10 pitch. Here are highlights:


- Strategy. Analytics is key to IBM’s future growth, which means Cognos is the apple of IBM's eye. IBM has spent $14 billion acquiring 25 companies since 2006 (inicluding $5M for Cognos) and there is no sign its buying spree will end soon.

- Services. IBM’s newly created Business Analytics Optimization services arm earned $9.4 billion last year, and IBM is hiring consultants like crazy to keep up with forecasted demand. Its target is 8,000 consultants worldwide.

- Licenses. Cognos 8 had double digit license growth the past five quarters, while the newly launched mid-market product, Cognos Express, which runs on the in-memory database TM1, has hundreds of customers in 25 countries. And TM1 is hot, generating double digit growth on its own during the past year

Cognos 10

- Visual Integration. Whereas Cognos 8 integrated the underlying architecture of Cognos’ once distinct products (reports, query, OLAP, dashboards, planning), Cognos 10 integrates the user experience. The new BI Workspace blurs the visual boundaries between these capabilities so users can seamlessly traverse from reporting to analysis to dashboards to planning and back again.

- Mashboards. Cognos 10 lets users create their own workspaces from widgets consisting of predefined report components. In other words, a mashboard. Report developers (using Report Studio Professional) simply “widgetize” charts, metrics, and even entire reports and they are automatically added to a library that users can access when creating their own personal workspaces.

- Progressive Interaction. Cognos 10 will expose additional functionality as users need it. For example, Business Insight users can click a button that says “do more” to expose functionality from Business Insight Advanced (replaces Report Studio Professional) to add objects and dimensions not available in the Business Insight library.

- Annotation. Users can annotate at the workspace, widget, or cell level (i.e., within a grid).

- Personal data. Users can add personal data from Excel and Cognos 10 will track, audit, and secure the data. I haven’t seen this demo’d yet, so I’m eager to see how it works.

- Active Reports. Cognos 10 lets report developers create interactive, Web-based reports, burst tailored versions to thousands of users who can interact with them offline. Information Builders coined the term Active Reports for much the same technology, so IBM Cognos should be careful about infringing trademarks here.

- Improved Query Performance. Cognos 10 has improved query performance by automatically generating optimized SQL or MDX depending on the source and implementing a dimensionally-aware, secure shared cache that can cache queries, metadata, members, and tuples.

- Lifecycle Manager – This lets administrators compare versions of reports visually to validate the efficacy of software upgrades and migrations from development to test to production. This is a very useful feature.

There’s a lot to like in Cognos 10 and it should give IBM Cognos a long-lasting stream of new and upgraded license revenue.

Posted on October 28, 2010


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