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IBM Cognos Bids For Biz Friendly BI

The business side of the house is where the rubber of business intelligence meets the road of opportunity. Yet, too often business needs take a back seat to IT and/or finance requirements or processes, eroding the decision-making value of a BI investment. At least that's the issue that Cognos combats with the its newest release.
The business side of the house is where the rubber of business intelligence meets the road of opportunity. Yet, too often business needs take a back seat to IT and/or finance requirements or processes, eroding the decision-making value of a BI investment. At least that's the issue that Cognos combats with the its newest release.The release of IBM Cognos 8 v4 binds Cognos more closely to IBM (Cognos was acquired in 2007), but that's inside baseball to small and midsize business owners looking for ways to improve business decision making. For business owners, the new release of Cognos' business intelligence and performance management software, allows the end-users of business intelligence to dictate the data and format they want rather than taking what IT and finance provide. As Harriet Fryman, of Cognos product marketing said in a well-crafted sound bite, "it takes business from the hot seat to the driver's seat."

No according to Cognos that doesn't mean that IT and finance become the tail-wagged dog (flip the metaphor if you're on the business side) thanks to the integrated data management functionality -- a refined way of saying that the software gives business decision makers the illusion of control while not straying outside the confines of the IT and finance sandbox. According to Fryman, the self-service functionality may decrease the common business response to BI data that's not exactly what they need (or think they need). She said, "What happens now is that business people resort to spreadsheets and that results in chaos."

Among the bells and whistles in the new release are Flash-based dashboards, drag-and-drop functionality, RSS feed reports, mobile delivery for BlackBerry, Windows, and Symbian handhelds, GPS support for location-based BI, modeling, and financial analytics. The modular component approach does allow companies to dip a toe into BI without shouldering huge investment and then add more functionality as needed, but don't expect to configure IBM Cognos 8 v4 in an afternoon (the financial analytics integration with Oracle and JD Edwards exclusively -- though more are planned -- indicates the target market for this product).

For business owners skeptical about investing in business intelligence, Fryman did offer an insightful response when asked how to prepare the business. She said, "Start small and don't focus on what data you need, but instead ask what decision are you trying make" and then gather the relevant data to make that decision.