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Cognos’ product roadmap – innovation will enable PM success

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Cognos' roadmap is centred on taking organisations to the next level. Beyond business intelligence (BI) lies performance management (PM), which Cgnos has brought to the enterprise through Cognos 8.2 enhancements and additions.

New advances include increased performance; the extension of Cognos functionality to mobile workers, increased accessibility to data for all levels of the organisation through new search capabilities; the ability to leverage Excel; and rapid deployment of BI using the Cognos NOW! appliance.
Oliver Oursin, Cognos vice-president: Products & Solutions Architect for Middle East, UK and SA, speaking at Cognos' recent Performance Management 2007 user conference in South Africa, says: "For successful PM there are three requirements: an enterprise class platform that offers reliable and scalable software that is low cost to deploy, manage and maintain; a complete consistent view of information, where and when you need it for all user communities; and solutions based on best practices that accelerate deployment and success. Cognos 8.2 gives users this and more.
"The innovations we have added to the mix puts Cognos in a class of its own."
A primary improvement has been the advancements in performance.
Says Oursin: "Cognos 8.2 shows a significant performance improvement over version 8.1. The testing, conducted on several thousand users performing tasks that varied from simple report delivery to complex analysis, demonstrates that Cognos 8.2 provides predictable, linear scalability when deploying BI capabilities to a large number of users across the organisation."
Performance depends on measuring and monitoring, planning and reporting and analysis. "However, some of our customers still struggle with data quality. Cognos thus, on 10 September 2007, announced the resell of Informatica Data Quality products and the launch of Cognos Data Quality professional services. This will enhance our Performance Management solution by helping our customers address, and continuously improve, the quality of information they rely upon to drive their business."
Three new solutions have improved the benefits of reporting and analysis.
Says Oursin: "Effective and efficient reporting and analysis depends on open data access, self service and one-click BI, and a single authoring environment. This functionality was previously built into the Cognos 8 Query, Reporting and Analysis modules. The demand, however, has been for greater role-centric simplicity of use and broader user reach. To realise these user demands, Cognos has introduced three innovations: Cognos 8 Go! Search, Cognos 8 Go! Mobile and Cognos 8 BI Analysis for MS Excel or Cognos CAFÉ as it is more commonly known."
Cognos 8 Go! lets users view and consume BI content using familiar applications or devices, such as a BlackBerry, search engine, MS Office application or Web browser.
Says Oursin: "Cognos 8 Go! Search increases user self-service and reduces report creation backlogs. It provides users with a familiar, browser-based search bar, sophisticated ranking of results, and the ability to easily fine-tune those results. Users can search relational, OLAP and unstructured data with integration into several of the leading enterprise search engines.
"It also reduces the creation of redundant reports and lowers IT's workload as they do not need to create and maintain as many drill paths between related reports. Of course, users are only granted access to the reports, metrics, and analysis that they have been given permission to view."
Cognos 8 Go! Mobile lets users working remotely access operational and strategic information about customer orders, product performance, and more. It provides users with actual Cognos 8 BI reports, not static renditions or OEM reproductions, making use of the scrolling and navigation functionality of the mobile device. There is thus no need to re-author for wireless devices – a single authoring environment lets users access all BI content regardless of language or locale.
Analysis is a key capability, says Oursin: "Organisations have spent millions trying to get rid of Excel. We have found a way to leverage it. Cognos 8 BI Analysis for MS Excel provides a way to explore and analyse trusted, secure, multidimensional information from Cognos 8 BI and other data sources in a familiar Microsoft Excel workspace.
"It allows users to author reports from within Excel using filtering, nesting, slicing and dicing, and extends to analysis, giving users the combined value of Excel and Cognos."
Planning features have also been enhanced. Cognos 8 Planning version 8.2 integrates operational and financial planning in real time for immediate visibility into resource requirements and future business performance. It improves data access and data management to reduce cost and speed the planning process. It also reduces the central planning effort by enforcing planning business rules and permitting better control of needed commentary.
Through Cognos Framework Manager, Planning 8.2 joins a common infrastructure across all Cognos solutions for scorecarding, planning, and business intelligence, thus reducing maintenance and total cost of ownership. In addition, greater integration capabilities mean users can adapt their deployment as their infrastructure changes, such as when adding new ERP vendors or IT environments, and can extend Cognos capabilities to other areas of the organization as needs evolve.
In terms of measuring and monitoring, Cognos has introduced Cognos NOW!, a family of operational business intelligence and performance management solutions available as appliances or hosted software-as-a-service (SaaS) models.
Operational business intelligence lets decision-makers proactively track, monitor, and respond to continuously up-to-date operational metrics in real-time or near real-time, with minimal IT intervention, and for a low total cost of ownership (TCO).
Explains Oursin: "Cognos Now! delivers highly visual, interactive, and self-service dashboards, data integration, analysis, and reports, all pre-packaged in a hardware appliance that streams operational data from disparate sources into a data store (a self service database), allowing operational users to personalise and customise their dashboards to view metrics related to their day-to-day jobs."
The best part? Cognos NOW! lets users deploy a complete operational BI solution in days, plugging into existing networks and providing data integration, analysis, end-user dashboards and collaboration tools.
Says Oursin: "Customers want real time Business Activity Management (BAM). Cognos NOW! provides this, reducing latency to almost '0' by using flash technology to push data to cubes in memory."
Cognos has also adapted Cognos 8 Controller, which provided capabilities for managing the close, consolidation, and reporting processes, to meet new and more stringent financial regulations and legislative requirements.
Oursin says: "Cognos 8 Controller 8.2 brings a wide range of enhancements. It provides an improved audit trail (a critical item in SOX compliance); tracks and date/time stamps application and data changes; provides enhanced security for data import, and enables better management and control through each step of the consolidation process, among others."
Oursin also announced that Cognos will be releasing more than 20 new Performance Blueprints, pre-defined data, process, and policy models that help organisations speed their software deployments and drive faster return on investment.
These Blueprints are developed in collaboration with top-performing Cognos customers and performance management experts and address a number of essential functional process areas as well as the unique needs of specific industries.
A final benefit for users are the Cognos 8 Education Bundles. These new enterprise offerings from Cognos Training package multiple Cognos self paced training courses along with an Advisory Service and My Learning CD. Each bundle includes all the necessary self paced training courses to ensure users are successfully trained on the corresponding Cognos product solution.