Users and Platforms
Cognos has broken upgrades for Version 8.3 into two groups: new capabilities for users, and upgrades to the platform. On the user front, Cognos has added an Express Authoring Model, a self-service reporting interface that lets financial and business analysts access financial and operational data sources to create statement style reports. New transformer capabilities have been added that let business groups create and manage their own perspectives and performance information by creating new OLAP (online analytical processing) cubes and constructing smaller, faster data sets of very specific performance information. A feature called Briefing Books helps both IT administrators and business users combine different systems and formats in a single report. Finally, users can create their own personalized alerts for scheduled reports. On the platform front, Cognos has added a number of new components, including one called the Model Advisor that provides Cognos' best practices for modeling to help guide model development. A new capability called the Snapshot of System Health provides administrators with a single, consolidated view into how each of the services on the platform are working. Users can set their own thresholds to monitor all BI deployments to get the status of servers, server groups, dispatchers and services. Metrics can be exposed to other systems like IBM's Tivoli to help with the overall monitoring of applications, Cognos said. An Upgrade Manager feature helps administrators more quickly introduce changes to the platform.With the release of Version 8.3, Cognos-like its growing list of competitors-is hoping to tap those users who are frustrated with their inability to figure out what all the data in their systems actually means.AMR Research analyst John Hagerty said during the Jan. 15 event that he has talked with a lot of business users who lament the fact that they've spent billions of dollars building systems to capture information, but they have little ability to interpret that data. "In addition, with all the external data and all unstructured data, there is an explosion of information. We see people trying to get value out of information and really understand what it means," Hagerty said. He added that out of the "things people talk about in performance management and BI, the term ad hoc comes up a lot. For the [most] part people say, 'I need some rules, regulations and guidance in how I should look at performance in my organization.' There's a tremendous effort of people trying to get better insight into business." Hagerty said most companies are at the early stages of that effort. Ashe mentioned during his keynote address Jan. 15 that he has been at Cognos for 23 years. "I am very, very excited about the opportunity we have [with IBM] to take performance management on the broadest stage in the industry," he said. "It's a great opportunity to drive our pervasive view of performance management in the industry."