In this competitive era of business, good decisions are the building blocks of great business performance. Many factors influence a company’s performance, but few actions are more important than an organization’s decision-making ability. Getting answers and building a strategy for most of the business problems requires integrated reporting and analysis, planning, and measuring and monitoring—across the organization. However a recent survey of
- 47% of users don't have confidence in their information
- 59% say they missed information they should have used
- 42% of managers use wrong information at least once a week
If this is not enough to scare the average CFO or CIO, then what is?
What is Business Intelligence (BI)?
The most valuable asset within an enterprise is Information. However, it requires a thoughtful management and the right technology to truly realize its worth. For many companies today, quickly extracting information from data is becoming difficult because information is stored in many different formats.
Now imagine a company that could look at all this information at once. They could spot hidden trends before they occur and recognize opportunities before they knock. The technology that enables us to get this organized information and enables us to use this hidden information is Business Intelligence (BI).
IBM Cognos : Business Intelligence Tool
When we talk about Business Intelligence, IBM Cognos 8 BI Tool is the market leader in this field with more than 23,000 leading companies and organizations around the world choosing Cognos Solutions that helps in understanding performance and making better decisions.
IBM Cognos provides a complete enterprise Business Intelligence software solution with integrated reporting, analysis, score carding and event management capabilities. The Cognos Suite provides a full range of reporting functions in which users can authorize, share and make use of reports that draw data across the business functions. This tool enables user to make better consolidated global business decisions based upon accurate analysis of informational data for the organization.
Cognos also provides Performance Management software that includes
Business Intelligence (BI) and Financial Performance Management (FPM)
software. This helps organizations to plan, understand, and manage
performance through a common understanding with accountable actions
based on answers to the following key business questions:
- How are we doing it? Measuring and monitoring performance can be done with scorecards and dashboards that help in tracking key business metrics
- Why are we doing it? Reporting and Analysis is required to see data, gain context, understand trends, and spot anomalies
- What should we be doing? Planning, budgets, and forecasting is done that helps in getting a reliable and consistent view of future performance
The outstanding quality of this tool is its easy to use single platform for all of these solutions which is easily scalable and can be widely distributed for better accessibility
IBM Cognos 8: Features
Cognos comes with many features that helps in addressing all kind of business intelligence needs: – Reporting, Analysis, Dashboards, and Scorecards. Let's discuss these in detail
IBM Cognos 8 BI Reporting enables us to make smarter business decisions by providing a comprehensive set of reporting capabilities and access to the information we need. Reporting with IBM Cognos 8 BI delivers a single Web-based solution for all components of the reporting lifecycle:
* Self-service reporting enables users to access, analyze and author information themselves without relying on complex IT infrastructure resources.
* Author once, access anywhere enables IT to create a single report that can be accessed on multiple devices, in 25+ languages, in multiple formats, and in other applications and processes.
* Report lifecycle enables collaboration between business and IT by enabling the sharing of reports.
IBM Cognos 8 BI Analysis enables the interactive exploration of information regardless of where the data is stored (OLAP and dimensionally modeled relational sources). It is especially useful for managers and analysts who need to analyze and report trends in organizational performance.
For example, consider a company Great Outdoors Company that needs to create a report showing sales by order method to determine which method generates the most revenue and the highest sales volume for every product of the company.
This report can be designed as below
Sample Report on Analysis
In this report, you can see that for the Special order method, the personal accessory Knives generated the highest sales volume, and Watches generated the most revenue. By sales visit, Knives generated the largest sales volume. Watches ordered by the Telephone order method generated the largest revenue.
Report enables us to:
* Perform complex analysis quickly and easily to get to the "why" behind an event or action.
* Explore large complex data sets using drag-and-drop techniques. Drill down through increasing levels of detail and view by different dimensions, such as sales per region or by product.
* View and analyze data relationships graphically and change displays easily. We can easily drill down, rank, sort, forecast and nest information to gain greater insight into trends, causes and effects.
While Reporting enables us to create simple reports for each and every business function in the organization, Cognos Dashboards enable the user to create much more complex reports with drill up/drill down capabilities that clearly depict the analysis for the complete organization business functions at one place. This helps to monitor, measure and manage corporate performance easily and quickly.
Dashboards provide an at-a-glance, factual and timely view of business performance. We can identify anomalies that could turn into significant business issues, and we can dig deeper into root causes of issues. IBM Cognos 8 BI Dashboard solutions:
- Offer personalized views of trusted key information.
- Deliver a high degree of visualization with graphs, gauges and charts.
- Can easily be delivered in multiple formats to suit specific needs of business users.
- Are easy to manage from an IT perspective.
IBM Cognos 8 BI Scorecarding software helps to align our teams and tactics with strategy, communicate goals consistently and monitor performance against targets.We can use IBM Cognos 8 BI Scorecarding to manage the full scope of our business processes:
- Create scorecard portlets to access and communicate scorecard content across all of your organization, and encourage broader use of scorecard and business strategy information.
- Build strategy maps, cause-and-effect diagrams, and other elements of the Balanced Scorecard.
- Deliver e-mail alerts to a user’s desktop, remote location or PDA when the status of a metric changes.
IBM Cognos 8: Working with data
The Cognos 8 working architecture can be understood from this figure that clearly depicts the various steps needed to develop the solutions.
Cognos provides very simple and easy to use interfaces like Report Studio, Query Studio and Analysis Studio etc. that enable user to understand and develop the reports easily and quickly. These reports, analysis, dashboards and scorecards once developed are monitored to improve business performance, analyze trends and measure results.
Primarily the following 3 main steps help to achieve this
a) Use report metadata (DATA Layer)
The data source administrator can store data in individual tables, rows, or columns.
b) Create a data model (SERVICES Layer)
use Framework Manager to add metadata to the model from any data
source type. A data source is necessary to create models in Framework
Manager and run reports or analyses from IBM Cognos 8. A data source
defines the physical connection to a database. The data source
connection specifies the parameters needed to connect to the
database, such as the location of the database and the timeout
c) Create a business intelligence report (USER Layer)
The report author uses various tools available with Cognos like Query Studio, Report Studio and Analysis Studio to create a report that can be viewed on IBM Cognos Connection and deployed across different user machines through a web based portal
IBM Cognos : Benefits
The benefits provided by Cognos are almost endless. It has its advantages in every sector of the businesses. To understand this in better, let me describe the existing pain points across various business sectors in the businesses and then we will understand as to how Cognos has helped businesses in removing existing limitations and achieving breakthrough performance in any industry.
Let us look at the various benefits provided by Cognos
Line of Business Benefits
- Timely access to information - provides the ability to easily access information in a timely fashion to achieve goals and drive performance
- Consistent, accurate, trusted information - allows users to leverage all data from all sources and applications to deliver information that business understands, owns and trusts.
- Business Self-Service - empowers the business through self-service capabilities, allowing users to access, analyze, and author information themselves without IT resources
- Ability to scale with growing user base and user requirements - provides an open, modern platform that allows them to cost effectively scale to their growing user base.
- Leverage existing data sources and IT assets - provides open and common access to wide range of data sources (relational, ERP, OLAP) and has the ability to combine the results in a single view
- Complete, consistent, and accurate view of information - single metadata modeling layer allows the data modelers to combine data from multiple data sources into a single data model
- Improve the planning, budgeting, forecasting and analysis process so that it drives smarter decision
- Improve its ability to measure, analyze and optimize performance to drive results
- Improve its ability to align metrics, initiatives and resources with corporate strategy so that operational and financial objectives are connected throughout the Enterprise
Cognos has many capabilities that could prove useful for any business. To give a better idea on how Cognos is used practically, let us discuss some of the customer experiences on Cognos
a) Hiscox has business reporting covered with IBM Cognos solution
The Hiscox finance team found that its spreadsheet-based system was becoming increasingly difficult to manage, and needed a more efficient solution for reporting and managing their business.
IBM Cognos 8 Business Intelligence is used for wide-scale reporting across the company, from operational and financial updates on various areas of the business, to head count tracking and statutory reporting.
Internal deadlines are being met much more consistently. For example, there was a six day time saving in preparing management accounting reports for one area of the business.
Have a look at the following link that explains Hiscox Case study in more detail
b) IBM Cognos 8 BI provided the Health Board with the tools to turn reporting into a self-service system, providing managers and clinicians across the organization with access to automatically generated routine reports at the touch of a button.
To provide managers and clinicians faster and simpler access to information, helping to reduce treatment waiting times for patients and improve organizational efficiency.
The IBM Cognos solution was chosen because it provided user-friendly, self-service features.
To get more details on this, click on the following link