Close to 4000 customers and partners convened in Las Vegas last week for the annual Cognos Forum, making it Cognos’ largest conference ever.
While some time was given to synergies with IBM’s product line, more air time was devoted to what’s new in Cognos 8.3, the performance management products, and previews of what’s coming. (Oh, and remember my disbelief in an earlier blog of both Cognos and Business Objects being shrink wrapped with DB2? Well, apparently the disbelief was warranted as the Business Objects OEM never materialized.)
In terms of cool factor, a future interactive viewer capability was the flashiest--literally, as it leverages Adobe Flash to provide this appealing interface. Cognos is not the first BI vendor to leverage Flash, and lack of interactivity has been a competitive weakness.
Where Cognos has been able to edge ahead of the competition has been in the integration of BI with performance management. Because the acquisitions by competitors SAP/Business Objects and Oracle/Hyperion both introduced overlapping products, Cognos can now correctly argue that its integration between BI and performance management is one of the deepest.
However, just how important the convergence of BI and Performance Management is continues to be debatable. While at the TDWI conference earlier in the week, nobody in the Evaluating BI Tools course reported they were simultaneously evaluating performance management solutions. This is despite the CFO being the executive level sponsor for a number of the attendee’s BI initiative. Even the survey in the Successful BI book showed 17% pursuing joint projects. Why is this? Are the vendor strategies still so far ahead of customer realities? Or is it perhaps that it’s as Seth Grimes would say, a type of “selection bias:” you need BI to do performance management, but you don’t necessarily need scorecards and planning tools to do business intelligence?