IBM Unveils Cognos Express Business Analytics Software

IBM targets its Cognos Express business intelligence and planning solution at cost-conscious businesses.

Technology giant IBM announced the launch of an all-in-one business intelligence and planning solution, IBM Cognos, which will offer midmarket businesses a low-cost and low-risk, integrated approach to planning, analyzing and reporting performance and identifying trends.

The Cognos Express solution-which includes Cognos Express Reporter, Cognos Express Xcelerator and Cognos Express Advisor, all available in mid-September-provides preconfigured business analytics and planning capabilities in a single offering, which IBM said enables midmarket executives to launch their business analytics strategy and then evolve it as their needs grow.

The solution plugs into an organization's existing infrastructure and, IBM claims, can be up and running in a few hours. New capabilities can then be added over time as business requirements change, IBM said. Cognos also offers a centralized, Web-based console that manages all administrative aspects of installation, deployment and ongoing management.

Through its self-service environment, Cognos Express allows clients to build reports, analyses, dashboards and multidimensional plans on their own. For instance, instead of waiting for the IT department to funnel reports that can be outdated by the time they are received, individual retail store managers can now tap into Cognos Express to build their own daily store sales reports. The solution also comes with an in-memory analytics server that allows clients to centrally manage data, business rules and calculations.

Cognos Express Reporter lets business users securely access data to create financial, operational and transactional production reports and ad hoc queries using drag-and-drop authoring capabilities, Express Advisor offers analysis and "what if" scenario planning for long- and short-term performance forecasting, and key metrics can be shared among stakeholders using live dashboards. Express Xcelerator helps managers transform their common spreadsheets with an underlying in-memory analytics engine for real-time multidimensional analysis, planning, budgeting and forecasting

"Midsized organizations are the engines that will lead the global economy back to growth and prosperity. Even in today's unsettled landscape, midsized companies are striving to better harness their information so they can continue to innovate and grow," said Ben Plummer, director of IBM's Cognos midmarket business unit. "We are committed to helping our midmarket clients harness the power of analytics with immediate, less-costly access to business insights, with the predictive abilities they need to make better, sharper, timelier decisions."

A recent IBM Global CIO Study involving 2,500 CIOs from 78 countries found that 83 percent of midmarket executives ranked "business intelligence and analytics" as their top priority for improving competitiveness and cutting costs. IBM argues that faced with limited budgets and overstretched IT resources, midsized organizations require faster and more affordable analytics solutions that can help them cope with information overload.

James Irvine, financial controller with the 15-outlet Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers franchise chain in New Zealand, said their success depends heavily on understanding what customers want, then tailoring their operations accordingly to keep them coming back again and again.

"This is only achievable if you have the right access to information and fast and efficient means of communicating goals to the field," he said. "Cognos Express, with its deep analytics capabilities, is helping midsized companies like ours quickly glean daily sales, marketing and operations information and make the right business decisions to remain competitive."