Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Cognos 10

I had look at Cognos 10 today when IBM’s Andrew Popp and Andrew MacNeill dropped by in Würzburg on a whistle-stop tour of Europe. On the whole I was pretty positively impressed.

Cognos says it is moving back towards the business user. That was the main message I picked up from the meeting. I have been noticing this interesting trend with many vendors. About ten years ago there was a big swing away from the business user, and vendors started focusing more and more on the enterprise. The main reason for doing this was that they were chasing the bigger deals.

But vendors often forgot about the end user in their rush to establish themselves as enterprise standards. In fact, the BI Survey 9 found that buying choosing BI software for a project because it is the enterprise standard leads to the worst project results. It is refreshing to see vendors making a real effort to address this issue.

Cognos is focused on making the product easier to get started with. They have identified the issue of jumping between multiple studios as the key issue for end users. Removing the “studio hop” is a big part of the new product. Actually this never seemed to me to be such a big deal. However, I have often seen users confused about it in the field – at least during sales presentations. I wonder if it is also an issue for users with a day’s training.

Be that as it may, the new version of Cognos provides a new way of accessing the system. Now the user starts in a Workspace that provides easy self service features and can add to that by clicking a button automatically attached to objects that brings the user to the appropriate authoring tool. Cognos is also moving away from the recursive grid concept that is the basis of Report Studio. This is probably a good idea as well, because you need quite a bit of practice to get a complicated layout right.

Cognos also introduced disconnected analytics with Report Studio’ ability to create prepackaged reporting applications. These single file packets include a slice of data and one or more interactive formatted reports. They are called Active Reports and are a lot like Information Builder’s Active Reports. They have also developed a set of query optimizations called the Dynamic Query Mode.

Another interesting side remark that IBM made was that they were considering using the name Dashboard for the Workspace. In the end they decided against it, and I think it was a good decision, although it is probably easier to get attention using the totally overhyped term dashboard which seems to be used to mean just about anything.

1 comment:

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