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.
The new Personal Alerts 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 in 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 BI customers move from departmental BI to enterprise, such administrative features are a must-have and that several leading BI products lack. Cognos 8.3 fills this gap, also allowing administrators to reprioritize sessions or interrupt them. The new Upgrade Manager is also something anyone migrating from ReportNet or earlier 8.x versions to the latest release 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% of its customers have migrated, whereas an additional 20 to 25% 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 have been rather lack luster (Upgrade Manager is for Series 8.x to 8.3 only).
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.