Alteryx and IBM Cognos are two well respected business intelligence (BI) and data analytics platforms. Both were scored well by Gartner in its latest “Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms.”
BI and analytics applications are a critically important tool for organizations seeking to harness the vast troves of data at their disposal. Instead of a small team of data scientists slicing and dicing data, now teams from management, sales, and IT are utilizing data analytics in their day-to-day activities.
As two top data analytics platforms, users often are forced to choose between Cognos and Alteryx. There are arguments for and against each data platform. It is hard to say that you could go wrong with either selection. But which is analytics tool is best for your business?
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Alteryx vs. Cognos: Key Features Comparison
Cognos Analytics supports data analytics from discovery to operations and is available in cloud and enterprise editions. It can be hosted onsite or in the cloud. It enables users to connect, verify, and combine data, and offers plenty of dashboard and visualization options.
Cognos is particularly good at pulling and analyzing corporate data, providing detailed reports, and assisting in corporate governance. It is built on a strong data science foundation and is supported by heavy duty analytics, courtesy of IBM Watson.
The strong point of Alteryx has been in cleansing data, making it useful to analysts in ensuring data and visualization accuracy. Why visualize or analyze inaccurate data? Alteryx is designed to extract, transform, and load (ETL) data from a great many data sources. It engages with data via workflows throughout the ETL process. Repeatability of processes saves a lot of time on manual processes and data reentry.
Alteryx does well on data discovery and management tools, too. But reporting and visualization options are limited. The platform does generate reports, but these are only for direct Alteryx BI users. Analytic Templates help in loading data into third-party visualization platforms.
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Alteryx vs. Cognos: Latest Feature Comparison
IBM has upgraded its home screen to simplify the experience and give it a more modern look and feel. Onboarding for new users has been streamlined with new video tutorials and accelerator content organized in an easily consumable format. Improved search capabilities, too, and enhancements to Cognos AI Assistant help generate dashboards automatically, recommend the best visualization, and suggest questions to ask (via Natural Language Query) to dive deeper into data exploration.
Alteryx, meanwhile, addressed its deficiencies with the release of Alteryx Analytics Cloud, which extends its analytics capabilities to a much wider set of users across the enterprise. Users now only need a browser to gain access. An automated modeling solution has been added, too, that doesn’t require data science experts to code machine learning models. Further new features include the ability to find anomalies and insights hidden in data, and provide focused summaries and explanations.
Who wins on features? IBM wins on overall features, especially reporting, governance, and security while Alteryx wins on data cleansing and ETL.
Alteryx vs. Cognos: Comparing Ease of Use
Alteryx has known to have an accessible user interface. Its cloud version makes it even more accessible. Anyone with a browser can access the platform and setup can now be done in minutes. Its low-code/no-code capabilities also make it easier for any user to extract insights that help them tackle their toughest business problems.
Cognos, on the other hand, has a more challenging learning curve. IBM has been working on this. The AI-powered and Watson-backed analytics of Cognos lower the barrier to the use of advanced data science techniques.
The conclusion: Alteryx wins on broad usage by a non-technical or less technical audience. Cognos is more suited to technical and advanced users.
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Alteryx vs. Cognos: Analytics Capability Comparison
Cognos has excellent analytics qualities, which are geared for the IBM user base. It integrates nicely, for example, with the IBM Cloud Pak for Data platform. Cognos has tools to bring together a multitude of data sources as well as AI Assistant tools that can communicate in plain English to get fast recommendations that are easy to understand.
Cognos also generates an extensive collection of visualizations. This includes geospatial mapping and dashboards that enable the user to drill down, rise up, or move horizontally through visuals which are updated in real time. But a templated visualization approach can make customization of visuals more difficult. Some users say it takes technical aptitude to do more complex analysis.
Alteryx has been gaining ground on analytics. But it started a long way behind Cognos and still has ground to cover. The newer cloud version has extended analytics beyond data scientists, IT, and data and analytics departments to lines of business groups. Any user can use its Designer Cloud to prepare, blend, and output data in a visual, code-free way through a browser, including on Macs.
Cognos, then, wins on analytics capabilities but if Alteryx’s new analytics capabilities live up to the promised functionality in press releases, they will have closed the gap considerably. And due to ease of use, many users may find Alteryx a better option.
Alteryx vs. Cognos: Comparing Cloud and On-Premises
Both Cognos and Alteryx evolved from the on-premises world. Both platforms have been working to change that.
Alteryx’ cloud-based platform, known as Designer Cloud, is interoperable with Alteryx’s Designer Desktop product and users can easily collaborate and share workflows between both applications.
Cognos also offers a cloud version in addition to its traditional on-prem version. But its DNA is rooted in on-prem. Alteryx wins here.
Alteryx vs. Cognos: Comparing Integration Challenges
Alteryx provides dozens of data connectors that make it easy to import and make edits to incoming data. Users can integrate Alteryx with other cloud applications, databases, spreadsheets. Cloud storage connectors are available for platforms like Amazon S3, Google Drive, Office 365, and Snowflake. Its ETL and analytics capabilities can also comfortably deal with data imported from CRM systems.
IBM Cognos connects to a large number of data sources including spreadsheets. It is quite well integrated into some parts of the vast IBM portfolio. IBM Cognos also integrates well with many CRM platforms.
Both, then, are largely free of integration headaches. IBM wins overall, but it’s close.
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Alteryx vs. Cognos: Price Comparison
IBM Cognos Analytics pricing starts at $10 per month per user for the on-demand version, with the premium version going up to $40. Cloud and on-premises pricing starts at $5 per month.
Alteryx has a completely different pricing model, so it is hard to compare them. It offers annual subscriptions. Alteryx Designer costs $5,195 per year. Additional capabilities come for a hefty fee.
It looks like IBM comes out ahead for some bids, but not all. This one depends on the needs of each organization.
Alteryx vs. Cognos: Conclusion
IBM enables customers to create dashboards and visualizations, leverage artificial intelligence to make data analysis easier, and offer data management capabilities. It excels with high-end, data science-type features. Big Blue boasts a massive sales and services team, and global reach into large enterprise markets.
Alteryx has a reputation for being easier to use. While it used to be more of an ETL and data cleansing platform, it has expanded its analytical capabilities to close the gap on IBM. For those that want basic analytics capabilities without requiring heavy duty capabilities, Alteryx probably wins. Overall, Cognos wins due to the sophistication of its analytical feature set, and its integration across the massive IBM customer base.
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