IBM Cognos Analytics Review

Armonk, NY
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Cognos At A Glance

Good: Continually improves software based on customer feedback, usable with multidimensional and relational data sources
Bad: Difficult to use for those not accustomed to advanced software.
Bottom Line: IBM Cognos Analytics is a BI tool that can be used to improve strategic management and monitor financial performance.

Product Overview

IBM Cognos Analytics software is an online-based business intelligence platform that offers a complete array of BI software to address company goals. Considered one of the leaders in the field of business intelligence, Cognos Analytics is comprised of over thirty different products. Cognos’ abilities include dashboarding, reporting, analytics, scorecarding, and, notably, data integration.

Among its greatest strengths is its attention to customer feedback in the design of its products, consistently earning it high scores as a manufacturer that understands the needs of its clientele very well. Its advanced analytical decision making software has especially been noted, allowing for organizations to automate and strengthen sound business decisions.

Cognos Analytics also contains unique products that completely separate it from the broader field of business intelligence by being able to simultaneously cater to both the largest corporate giants on the one hand, and smaller to midsize companies on the other, with the same system. Cognos Express is designed specifically for departments within larger companies, and smaller and midsized companies, that are unable to afford exorbitant implementation fees. Express is limited to 100 users and has all the same reporting, querying, dashboarding, and scorecarding capabilities of the full-scale software. This allows businesses that before now have been largely unable to afford the technology to use the same analytical processes as its much larger competitors.

In October 2015, Cognos has been redesigned to utilize the same self-service functionality as its new Watson Analytics.This greatly benefits businesses as they won’t need to rely on their IT staff to compile BI reports. They can access dashboards and run reports from any device. Other new features include:

  • Intent-driven modeling: Non-technical users are able to pull their data together without having to understand the technical stuff that goes with it. Cognos Analytics can interpret the intent of the attributes that’s typed, search the data sources that best match the attributes and suggest some data modeling scenarios.
  • Smarter search functionality: The smarter search functionality helps users find the right information quickly. For example, smart search can guide the user to add data to charts or provide visualization tools relevant to that search.
  • Single platform for all types of business reporting: All of Cognos Analytics’ reports and dashboards are in one environment and accessible from any device. Employees that work outside of the office are able to access the same data and tools as those in the office, which makes for easier collaboration.

If you’re curious about comparing Cognos to other BI tools, check out our Cognos vs Tableau feature for a look at strengths and weaknesses head-to-head.


Cognos Analytics is usable with multidimensional and relational data sources from various companies, such as Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, and more.

Featured programs include: Cognos TM1, Cognos Insight, Cognos Express, Cognos Enterprise, Cognos Disclosure, Management.

The Cognos Express debuted its latest version in June 2015 with these new features/enhancements (those that own this program will now have access to the latest versions/releases of Cognos TM1 and Cognos BI):

  • Simpler user interface and deployment
  • Ability to install Cognos TM1 and Cognos BI on separate machines
  • Ability to work with Microsoft Excel
  • SSL Support
  • Linux support for Cognos TM1

  • Ad Hoc Analysis?
  • Online Analytical Processing (OLAP)?
  • Predictive Analysis?
  • Profit Analysis?
  • Trend Indicators?
  • Ad Hoc Reporting?
  • Automatic Scheduled Reporting?
  • Customizable Dashboard?

Target Market

IBM services over 23,000 companies from a broad cross-section of industries including aerospace, defense, banking, education, healthcare and many more. Below are some of their clients:

  • Nike
  • GKN Land System
  • Spain's Ministry of Defense
  • British Airways
  • Chemring
  • Quinte Health Care
  • Troy Corporation
  • Michigan State University
  • Lufthansa Cargo
  • Jabil

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The implementation process for IBM Cognos Analytics is as follows (note it is based on company needs/requirements):

  • Discuss requirements and goals of the company using the solution
  • Install server and client components for Cognos Analytics
  • Install database and ETL configuration
  • Load master data and configure historical data loads
  • Deploy other pre-built applications, such as the Framework Manager models, reports, and dashboards
  • End-to-end testing of the solution
  • Deliver installation documentation to users
  • Transfer information to users
  • Remote support up to two days after implementation is done

Customer Service & Support

IBM has a comprehensive customer support system that includes training and certification courses, and customer service available for users of their Business Intelligence programs, such as Cognos.

They offer trainings that can be individualized based on specific roles within a company, and can be implemented both online and in-person. They also offer private courses, and specialized certifications to reflect expertise that aid in career advancement.

Online tech support provides customers with access to IBM specialists that can address questions or potential problems with software.


IBM Cognos offers licensing options for perpetual and annual terms. The Cognos Cloud Analytics edition has a range of pricing plans:

  • Proof of Concept – starting at $12,360.00; 50% discount available
  • Workgroup – starting at $23,880.00 for 25+ users per year
  • Standard – starting at $121,200.00 for 100+ users per year
  • Enterprise – $239,400.00 for 150+ users per year

IBM also offers Cognos Express for mid-sized companies. Please contact IBM directly for a quote.


Critics of the product cite its difficulty to use, especially for those new to advanced software. Of particular note are the error messages that continually pop up, and have been noted to be very difficult to cipher and even more difficult to resolve. Data reports also take almost twice as long to compile with Cognos Analytics as compared to most competitors. A few users have mentioned that there’s too many components that needed to be installed.


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IBM World Trade Corporation, a company of over 435,000 employees globally, is based in Armonk, New York. It specializes in the creation and marketing of computer hardware and software around the world. It also offers general consulting services in areas such as mainframe computers and nanotechnology.

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