IBM Cognos Express BI tailor-made for midmarket

IBM Cognos announced Monday a business analytics tool made for the specific pain points of the mid market customer, and, the company said, is an improvement from other vendors who merely re-package enterprise products.

The differentiating factor of the newly-launched IBM Cognos Express is that it’s an integrated reporting analytics and planning software that basically connects the areas of reporting, analysis and planning, said Caroline Seymour, program director for mid market strategy for BI and performance management with IBM Cognos.

Traditionally, those three capabilities have been separate, presenting a problem for midsized customers whose specific needs require those to be integrated, said Seymour.

“And it’s only by connecting them that you can go from data to information to insight and then action,” said Seymour.

IBM Cognos Express is designed to be an “all-in-one” tool that is easy to install, use and buy because it’s pre-configured, has self-service capabilities and delivers a fast return on investment, the company claims.

Other vendors not only offer the bits individually, she said, but have merely re-packaged their enterprise offerings with limitations, but mid-sized customers can’t deploy them because they lack the resources and skills.

“(Those offerings) haven’t addressed the key pain points, and that’s been a challenge these companies have,” said Seymour.

In particular, Seymour said rival SAP/Business Objects’ Edge offering for the midsized market is an enterprise product “pushed” down to the mid-market.

SAP recently announced its Clear New World corporate strategy for both enterprises and small and medium-sized businesses to address immediate pain points. The idea is that organizations can use tools par of the Best Run Now initiative – offering capabilities in areas like business intelligence and enterprise resource planning software in bite-sized chunks – to achieve clarity through the recession.

“As the global market environment continues to shift dramatically on a daily basis, it becomes more important than ever for companies to utilize their IT investments to increase efficiencies, improve operations and respond rapidly for long-term viability and success,” said Bill McDermott, president and CEO of global field operations with SAP AG, on the company Web site.

As for IBM Cognos Express, it is part of IBM’s ongoing investment to business intelligence, and is an “integral and strategic” part of the Express Advantage program, including services and offerings that must meet strict criteria specific to mid sized companies, said Seymour.

“IBM/Cognos Express is part of that ongoing investment and commitment and it is specific to the midmarket,” said Seymour.

The midmarket for IBM/Cognos represents a significant growth area considering it is the “foundation of the economy,” said Seymour. “It’s a growth segment from a business intelligence and performance management perspective.”

Earlier this year, a survey by IBM/Cognos of 1,800 chief information officers of midmarket companies ranked business intelligence and analytics as a key priority, said Seymour.

Yet the majority of business analytics offerings out there don’t work for mid-sized companies said Seymour. Inhibitors to deployment include cost and infrastructure and resource constraints, she said.

IBM/Cognos Express deploys quickly and integrates easily with existing systems, said Seymour. It comes with an in-memory analytic server so customers can start building their own data warehouse, and a Web console for centralized management by IT departments.

“IT departments have so many priorities with all that they have to encompass throughout an organization … so the more they can make their business self-service but to also be able to manage the solution so it doesn’t interrupt the business and it fits with their infrastructure,” said Seymour.

IBM/Cognos Express is generally available Tuesday.



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