Software // Information Management
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1/16/2008
12:11 PM
Doug Henschen
Doug Henschen
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Cognos Talks Performance Management, Walks BI

All the talk was about performance management, performance management, performance management at yesterday's Cognos 8.3 launch in New York, but most of the upgrades are about good old business intelligence. There were a few notable performance management-oriented tidbits, but the real appeal of Cognos 8.3 is in a handful of business-user-friendly upgrades aimed at democratizing reporting and analysis.

All the talk was about performance management, performance management, performance management at yesterday's Cognos 8.3 launch in New York, but most of the upgrades are about good old business intelligence. There were a few notable performance management-oriented tidbits, but the real appeal of Cognos 8.3 is in a handful of business-user-friendly upgrades aimed at democratizing reporting and analysis.At the top of the list of appealing Cognos 8.3 upgrades is an Express Authoring mode that essentially offers "Report Studio for Dummies." While Report Studio gives BI experts everything they need to develop just about any report imaginable, Express Authoring is a slimmed-down, easy-to-navigate environment that brings the basics to power users and analysts. Also in the reporting vein are new Briefing Books (think printed executive summaries) as well as self-service Personal Alerts that can be set on just about any stat appearing in a report without having to put in a request to IT. In the analysis vein, new Transformer capabilities will make it easier for power users to create and manage their own cubes.

The "Go!" upgrades discussed yesterday were mostly warm-overs of previous versions. For instance, Cognos had Go! Search 8.2, the tool designed to list relevant Cognos Reports side-by-side with conventional search results, but 8.3 will add Microsoft Search Server 2008 to a support list that already includes the Google Box, IBM OmniFind and the FAST search engine. We also knew about the formerly Blackberry-only Go! Mobile platform being ported to Symbian and Windows Mobile devices, but we'll have to wait until next month for that 8.3 software to ship. Also shipping next month is Cognos 8.3 BI Analysis for MS Excel. This integration, which lets you analyze and dynamically refresh Cognos data within Excel, was preannounced last Spring and released in V8.2 in October.

The performance management bits announced yesterday include two new "performance solutions": the Cognos Retail Financial Workbench & Scorecard Blueprint and the Cognos Salary Planning and Position Control Blueprint. The former aimed at retail planning and the latter (less obviously) aimed at Colleges and Universities.

Also in the performance management vein are new Scorecard Portlets that expose underlying history and goals by simply hovering over metrics of interest displayed on a Cognos Connection dashboard. Finally, the Express Authoring mode that will make reporting more of a self-service affair will also work with Cognos Planning, so it will be easier for businesses to share forward-looking plans and goals.

Cognos executives mentioned the impending acquisition by IBM a number of times throughout the day - including word that shareholders overwhelmingly improved the deal on Monday - but for the most part they stuck to the performance management messaging. I'll share more about what Cognos CEO Rob Ashe described as "the convergence of BI and performance management," but for now you can think of it as proactive, rather than reactive, BI. On that note, I'd say Cognos 8.3 will be winner with business users who want self service to reports and alerts so they can take action and make fact-based decisions.All the talk was about performance management, performance management, performance management at yesterday's Cognos 8.3 launch in New York, but most of the upgrades are about good old business intelligence. There were a few notable performance management-oriented tidbits, but the real appeal of Cognos 8.3 is in a handful of business-user-friendly upgrades aimed at democratizing reporting and analysis.

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