At the late June Cognos Forum, more than 2,000 people heard the company's presentation of future solutions and technology directions. Cognos outlined its market and product strategies, showcasing Cognos Performance System as the blueprint for performance management by connecting strategy to planning to measuring and monitoring execution through a common platform. Cognos also made a series of announcements on best practices, partners, applications and technology for finance, operations and IT. The company highlighted several new releases as well: Cognos Controller, Cognos Office Connection and Cognos 8. Ventana Research recommends that organizations looking to embrace BI for the enterprise and provide better business context with performance management assess Cognos' new offerings. Cognos, along with many of its competitors, is still maturing its enterprise BI platforms and applications. Organizations in the market for solutions should carefully examine marketplace offerings to assess how they satisfy their business and technology requirements and can help to mitigate risk in new projects.
As Cognos executives outlined it, the company’s focus is on helping organizations address the challenges they face in using their data assets most profitably and responding cost-effectively to governance requirements. The company's product strategy is centered on an approach to performance management called Cognos Performance System. This approach combines three major elements intended to enable organizations to understand, manage and improve performance. The three elements are the new Cognos Series 8 platform, tighter integration with Microsoft Office and an expansion of Cognos' technology and consulting partner ranks via a "Powered by Cognos" marketing program. Ventana Research sees this maturing of Cognos' focus on performance management as a positive step toward addressing organizations' needs to improve decision-making and the use of information in the enterprise.
Cognos Series 8, a major new release of the company's platform, will be rolled out later this year and will incorporate technology to satisfy at least basic enterprise BI requirements. This new platform reflects the company’s technology investments in ReportNet, Metrics Manager and PowerPlay, and will provide an integrated platform using common approaches to access, administration and deployment. It will also offer common look-and-feel reporting, analysis, dashboard and scorecarding tools. Companies also will find the new release simpler to use. With it, Cognos will introduce new pricing based on user role and function. Organizations looking for a common BI technology platform should assess Cognos' direction and release schedule to determine whether the new platform will satisfy existing and future user and technology requirements.
Cognos also has embraced integration with Microsoft Office through a new product called Cognos Office Connection that is available to customers on maintenance contracts. This product offers interfaces between the Cognos platform and Microsoft Office to provide both flexibility and control when processing BI data in Office applications. Organizations looking to bring control to their disparate spreadsheets and presentations should examine technology like Cognos' that decreases the risk of inaccurate information.
Cognos also introduced a ”Powered by Cognos” program that will provide to its large and growing community of technology and consulting partners and their customers more support to ensure proper application of the Cognos products and technology. The extension of the company's Innovation Center, which was originally focused on planning to performance management, is expanding partners' and customers' access to knowledge about business best practices and application usage. Organizations should continue to lean on vendors to provide best practices and deployment references.
Enterprise requirements for performance management and BI continue to expand as organizations raise the priority of these initiatives. Major releases from BI and application providers this year are fueling a technology and applications race for market leadership. Unfortunately for customers, no one supplier has yet emerged as the clear leader. Cognos, BusinessObjects, Hyperion, IBI, SAS and Siebel are duking it out and all are seeing continued revenue growth. Oracle, SAP and Microsoft have not yet fully committed to the market in regards to performance management. Vendors that do not fully tool up to support business needs in performance management and instead limit their efforts to just the technology aspects of BI will fall short in meeting organizations’ needs over the next three to five years. Though these vendors are large by revenue and total customers, there is plenty of technology available in the market and there are many business processes they have not yet addressed. Smaller vendors continue to grow and provide valuable products. While Cognos has rolled out its BI roadmap for the next 12 months, we have yet to see where it will go beyond the pending version 8 release. However, Ventana Research sees competitive advancements occurring in the market such as these by Cognos as positive steps that will increase the pressure. We anticipate future BI technology innovation will address areas including search, location and GIS, process and the expert systems support once found in earlier generations of client/server technology.
The Cognos BI product roadmap will help existing customers plan for most productive use of their investments and evaluate new ones. While this is a positive step, the company is not alone in its efforts. All the major providers have -- or will have by year end -- an integrated platform and toolset. Cognos' focus on embracing and integrating Microsoft Office is a positive step for organizations looking to mitigate the risk of relying on potentially inaccurate data for decision-making. Ventana expects to see Cognos use its blueprint to bring further focus to its performance applications. Organizations using Cognos BI today should examine the new upcoming version 8 closely, as it will go well beyond the company’s existing ReportNet technology and provide enterprise-scale BI deployment capabilities.
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Ventana Research is the preeminent research and advisory services firm helping our clients maximize stakeholder value with Performance Management throughout their organizations. Putting research in a business and IT context we provide insight and education on the best practices, methodologies and technologies that enable our clients to leverage assets to understand, optimize, and align strategies and processes to meet their goals and objectives.
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