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Cognos 8.3: The Good, the Bad, the Reality

Last week Cognos announced the release of Cognos 8.3, its flagship business intelligence platform. The latest release includes a number of improvements both for end users and administrators. Although it is a point release, I'd venture to say it's the biggest since Cognos 8 first shipped in November 2005. Here's my take on highlights and gaps…

Cindi Howson

January 25, 2008

3 Min Read

Last week Cognos announced the release of Cognos 8.3, its flagship business intelligence platform. The latest release includes a number of improvements both for end users and administrators. Although it is a point release, I'd venture to say it's the biggest since Cognos 8 first shipped in November 2005. Here's my take on highlights and gaps…The new Personal Alerts feature has the best work flow I've seen for such business alerts. The Express Authoring mode is intended to better meet the needs of power users, a user segment for which the current Report Studio is too complex and Query Studio too basic. While this mode is a step in the right direction, lack of charting abilities and limitations in types of data sources (they must be dimensionally modeled) seem to introduce other holes that will force some users to revert to Report Studio.

Administrative features rarely generate as much excitement as the end user modules, but here, Cognos has made great strides. Initially in Cognos 8, administrators had no way of seeing which users had open sessions. As many customers move from departmental to enterprise BI, such administrative features are a must-have, and several leading BI products are lacking in this area. Cognos 8.3 fills this gap, also allowing administrators to reprioritize sessions or interrupt them. The new Upgrade Manager is also something anyone migrating to the latest release (from earlier Series 8 versions) will welcome, as a way of regression testing reports.

On that note, though, the reality is that customer adoption of the Series 8 product line has been surprisingly low. Cognos estimates that about 10 percent of its customers have migrated, whereas an additional 20 percent to 25 percent plan to deploy new applications with Cognos 8. In some respects, Cognos has made it easy for customers to stay with Impromptu and PowerPlay (Series 7 products) with the promise of continued enhancements. I can't help but wonder if IBM will maintain that same commitment. While maintenance of legacy products might be good for customer loyalty, there is little catalyst for customers to switch to a platform, even though there are significant innovations and an integrated platform provides a lower cost of ownership over Series 7. A double whammy is that the migration tools to get from Series 7 to Cognos 8 (something not addressed by the new Series 8 Upgrade Manager) have been rather lackluster. In this regard, while the 8.3 improvements help strengthen Cognos competitive position for new BI customers, existing customers seem slow to embrace them. I'd welcome your thoughts on why this adoption has been relatively slow.

For a more detailed review of the product's strengths and weaknesses, see the latest BIScorecard Cognos Overview report.

Regards, CindiLast week Cognos announced the release of Cognos 8.3, its flagship business intelligence platform. The latest release includes a number of improvements both for end users and administrators. Although it is a point release, I'd venture to say it's the biggest since Cognos 8 first shipped in November 2005. Here's my take on highlights and gaps…

About the Author(s)

Cindi Howson

Founder, BI Scorecard

Cindi Howson is the founder of BI Scorecard, a resource for in-depth BI product reviews based on exclusive hands-on testing. She has been advising clients on BI tool strategies and selections for more than 20 years. She is the author of Successful Business Intelligence: Unlock the Value of BI and Big Data and SAP Business Objects BI 4.0: The Complete Reference. She is a faculty member of The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) and a contributing expert to InformationWeek. Before founding BI Scorecard, she was a manager at Deloitte & Touche and a BI standards leader for a Fortune 500 company. She has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, the Irish Times, Forbes, and Business Week. She has an MBA from Rice University.

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