Rikke Jacobsen: Helping Danish companies build solid analytics foundations and prepare for change

By | 5 minute read | July 1, 2020

This story is part of Analytics Heroes, a series of profiles on leaders transforming the future of business analytics.

Though Rikke Jacobsen has worked with IBM Cognos Analytics for more than 20 years, she still gets excited about the prospect of helping her clients make sense of their data — you can hear it in her voice. “I’m known as ‘Mrs. Cognos,’” she says with a smile. “People come to me when they want to build new reports or do any kind of data analysis.”

Rikke is the CEO of CogniTech, a Danish company offering solutions for data warehousing, business intelligence, budgeting and forecasting, financial consolidation, AI and machine learning. CogniTech is a newer player in the analytics world. Rikke founded the company in 2019, as part of a strategic buyout with five other veterans from worldwide software giant DXC, and 8 other employees from her department followed her and the 5 other partners to CogniTech. As the only IBM Gold Partner in the country, they’re steadily building a reputation for excellence.

Rikke acknowledges the challenges of working under lockdown, saying, “I have employees in four locations that I used to visit every other week. So now I try to touch base a lot and try to replicate that team spirit. Luckily my employees are used to working from home and they are all very responsible and independent. They know what I expect from them and I have full confidence that they do their best every day and help to give the customers the attention they need.” In the face of a global pandemic, Rikke speaks with enthusiasm and optimism about her industry. “Companies have so much data that they can be using better. That’s what I’ve been helping them with for two decades — and I still have work to do,” she laughs.

The need for better data analysis in unprecedented times

Rikke understands the huge challenges facing companies during the COVID-19 crisis. “It’s more important than ever to help get our customers access the right reporting information about their sales and the demands.” CogniTech hosts online workshops to help companies understand what they can get out of new, more agile planning tools like IBM Planning Analytics with Watson®. In these times, companies are looking at sales and also closely looking at their cost bases, to see where they can cut costs. This is where IBM solutions come in. End-to-end planning solutions help businesses avoid the pitfalls of siloed business planning and the associated errors from reconciling disparate plans, saving time and money.  Unifying data across the organization with real time refreshes lets people work with the latest data and prevent basing decisions on inaccurate data.

More transparency, improved sales

CogniTech helped the management team of a large Danish hardware store prepare some reports showing revenue, order amount, and gross profit by customer, product, and vendor. “The report was intended for management, but it was accidentally shared with salespeople in one department,” says Rikke. As it turns out, the happy accident lead to a friendly competition for who was earning more revenue, and who was leading on gross profit. And after six months they had raised their gross margin by 5%. Because of this, their client now shares sales data with all their employees.

The best IT investment ever made

Rikke is a real believer in the power of IBM’s analytics tools, and she shares that passion with her customers. Of one client in Denmark, she recalled, “I went up to help him implement IBM Cognos Analytics. We had spent three days together, and he had hardly said anything. Then one afternoon, I showed him reports that I built, and he suddenly said, ‘this has been the best IT investment I have ever made.’ So that was a really, really great day.” Rikke sees a lot of customers who spend too much time putting data into Microsoft Excel sheets, and she likes helping companies save time. She says “customers can save so many hours with Cognos. And on the planning side with Planning Analytics.”

Today, Rikke and her team are helping their clients on a difficult journey. “We work with a large food service company who caters to hotels and restaurants. So obviously, things are challenging for them right now. We helped them implement Cognos about twenty years ago and in the following years they also implemented Planning Analytics and SPSS.” Thanks to their agility, self-service capabilities, and built-in AI, these solutions helped this client to get an overview of the sales and inventory and it helps them in the difficult times with the major changes in market demand. They have also been able to make quick changes and work with Planning Analytics with Watson using sandboxes to simulate how the changes in the market demand will influence their business. Now, they’re seeing their retail business grow, which also creates a more valuable need for reporting and changes to their forecast.

Delivering value to clients

As a full-service partner, Cognitech goes the extra mile when it comes to implementation and training.  They help customers implement IBM Cognos Analytics and IBM Planning Analytics with Watson, build the models and data cubes and set it up so it’s easy for the client to input data and do the reporting and analysis. “People are often stuck on Excel for budgeting and planning so Planning Analytics is a huge win for clients.” Rikke and her Team shows them how connected the IBM tools are and how Cognos Analytics works for all the other parts of the client’s company. “When we show them the explorations and dashboards, and how Planning Analytics works with Cognos, they get really excited.” says Rikke.

“It’s not just about showing them how the tools work, but about how they are presenting the information, the design principles,” says Rikke. These solutions are specifically designed with the user in mind, so that they can be easy to adopt and deliver immediate value to the user.

Rikke is a big proponent of the self-service capabilities of Cognos. But she believes in first helping clients build the right data models. Rikke says, “[Business users] can’t just transition from an existing ERP system, take out the data, and build a data model,” she always recommends building a new data warehouse with new models — which they can build using tools like IBM Db2. The business users can then build reports and create the analysis with the shared data models.

Being an analytics hero

Rikke is very proud to be nominated as an Analytics Hero, saying “I’ve had a burning passion in this field for 20 years, so it feels fantastic that IBM is recognizing that, and celebrating that.”

Her clients couldn’t agree more. Most recently, Rikke and her team helped Nukissiorfiit, Greenland’s energy and water supplier, transform their business and accelerate their mission to 100% sustainable energy using Cognos, Planning Analytics with Watson and AI forecasting.

Learn more about IBM’s analytics solutions, or read about other Analytics Heroes.