Cognos to Add Search to BI Platform

The next iteration of the company's Cognos 8 BI platform will include a search service that taps back-end ERP and CRM systems.

With the next iteration of its Cognos 8 Business Intelligence platform, announced March 27, the company is entering the search market—the enterprise search market, that is.

The Cognos Go! search service takes the approach of Google—enabling users to quickly search for and find relevant information through a browser interface—but with a twist. Rather than look to the Web for relevant sources, Cognos Go! taps back-end systems like ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer relationship management).

Cognos is not the first software vendor to develop a search capability—both SAP and Oracle recently announced similar capabilities. The end goal for each, though, is the same: Tap the structured and unstructured data locked in back-end systems.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read more about how Oracle is shaking up search.

"In the enterprise, the core assets of a business are described in models and in a metadata layer that are really inaccessible," said Don Campbell, senior vice president of Product Innovation and Technology at Cognos. "So even though youve gone out and bought a Google appliance and let it get to all your unstructured assets, you really cant get at all the language you put in metadata models. The understanding of that metadata is really locked in your BI tools."

To this end, the upgraded Cognos BI platform comes standard with access to MySAP ERP applications and Siebel Systems CRM applications. The new Report Packs for MySAP FI/CO and Siebel CRM allow users to combine historical data from a data warehouse with current data in MySAP or Siebel CRM without additional coding, officials said. At the same time, the Report Packs provide pre-defined content for more than 60 of the most frequently used reports that provide access to MySAP and Siebel CRM.

Cognos has also added better support for SAPs NetWeaver integration platform, in a couple of ways. The platform has received upgraded certification for NetWeaver, which in turn lets users access data in SAPs Business Warehouse, deploy Cognos 8 BI on SAPs Web application server and utilize the NetWeaver portal to display information.

Microsoft users are taken into the fold as well with the Cognos 8 BI. The company beefed up its connection to Office, enabling users to view, interact with and refresh Cognos reports, analysis and metrics from Microsoft PowerPoint and Excel.

Cognos 8 BI has also added support for HP Itanium, Microsoft SQL Server 2005, BEA Systems WebLogic 9, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.0, Sybase ASE 15, NCR Teradata and Oracle 10g v2.

The hope for Cognos is that with deeper connections to SAP, Siebel, Microsoft and other systems, along with the search capabilities, business intelligence will finally move deeper into the corporate mainstream—where vendors have been trying to nudge it for a while, according to Campbell.

"Theres probably two kinds of user experiences that are important for BI users," said Campbell, in Burlington, Mass. "There is this is where I am, show me where I can go in a logical way, [which is fairly standard.] Then there is the experience of the more current [search] user that doesnt touch BI today. Were building a bridge between what the BI vendor already provides to what the search engine vendor provides."

The Go! Search Service will be available in May.

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