IBM Cognos Analytics has evolved
October 20, 2020
IBM Cognos Analytics has evolved
Score 8 out of 10
- Analysis Studio
- Query Studio
- Report Studio
Overall Satisfaction with IBM Cognos Analytics
I have been working with multiple clients that have Cognos Analytics in-house to deliver reports to multiple departments within the organization. Some clients have standardized on Cognos across the entire organization. Every use case is unique, but the main strengths of Cognos are its enterprise reporting capabilities. Professional report authors typically develop sophisticated reports that are automated and delivered across large groups of consumers. The goal is to encourage a self-service model, and Cognos also supports that, but adoption of self-service is not consistent across different companies.
- Standardized reporting.
- Enterprise data governance.
- AI-infused data discovery.
- OLAP data exploration.
- Data cleansing.
- Data preparation.
- Eliminates manual processes, saving several hours per week per analyst.
- Provides deeper insights into customer behavior.
- Automation of report delivery saves time and allows archiving of data.
Although Tableau has certain advantages, mostly in its best in class visualization capabilities, Cognos is catching up. Most of the other advantages of Tableau Desktop have been addressed in more recent versions of Cognos, for instance the ability to ingest personal data sources, self-service modeling, and improved dashboarding/visualization features. Tableau still lacks a centralized metadata and governance model and requires a bit more effort to implement at the enterprise level. Also, Cognos is still best in breed for standardized reporting, which is always a crucial need for organizations. More requirements can be centrally addressed by Cognos, but it is unlikely any organization will have just one BI tool.
The AI Assistant does enable these automated tasks, but most developers will build models and dashboards manually. The opportunity to leverage these features to achieve broader self-service is there, but it requires a culture shift more than anything. Mostly, the AI features are valuable because they eliminate certain steps, such as recognizing data types, inferring usage, and matching columns when joining data sources. It is also very useful in suggesting visualizations and other ways of looking at data when using the Explore feature.
Data governance is a core element of the IBM Cognos platform, and it is extremely important to any organization. The ability to tightly control access to data at the row and object level as well as security of content is a major benefit of Cognos. It is easy to setup a single-sign-on environment that integrates with your existing authentication provider and to deploy a governed security model at a very granular level. More recent versions also make delegation of authority much easier, supporting department-level deployments and offloading administrative responsibilities. This approach does encourage broader adoption and a more decentralized approach.
Cognos is best-suited to address enterprise-level reporting and analytics. It is a server-based architecture, so typically it is not suited for individual analysts that simply need a desktop-based reporting or visualization tool. However, most organizations need a broader analytics strategy, and Cognos fits very well with the bi-modal business intelligence world of today. Cognos Analytics in its current incarnation (version 11.1) supports self-service data discovery and other use cases that it historically was not capable of. Its data governance model is best in class, but also a centralized one that can result in a more rigid deployment strategy that can slow time to decision. Again, it is important to recognize that many of the traditional limitations that held Cognos back have been eliminated. It is now easy for any user to introduce any type of data, model it, and begin visualizing and exploring it in a matter of minutes. However, the infrastructure must be stood up beforehand, but this is not really a deficiency.