IBM Adds Forecasting to Cognos Express
February 1, 2011 Alex Woodie
IBM last week unveiled a new version of Cognos Express, its business intelligence suite designed for mid-sized businesses. With version 9.5, IBM added a new budgeting and forecasting module designed to simplify the planning process, and eliminate reliance on manual planning.
Cognos Express is based on the TM1 in-memory OLAP database that Cognos obtained with its acquisition of Applix before IBM acquired Cognos. IBM rolled out Cognos Express in September 2009 with the aim of serving mid-size organizations that can’t justify the more powerful (but more difficult to use) enterprise BI products, such as the full-strength Cognos line or its SPSS offerings.
When Cognos Express launched, the suite had three main modules, including Reporter, a Web-based ad hoc query and reporting tool; Xcelerator, which effectively turns a user’s Excel spreadsheet into an interface for running advanced OLAP queries; and Advisor, which supports drill down and slice-and-dice capabilities for OLAP.
When Cognos Express 9.5 goes GA later this week, the suite will have a fourth module called Express Planner. This module is designed to deliver a structured planning and workflow process to help with planning, budgeting, and forecasting. IBM says Express Planner streamlines information gathering, aggregation, and analysis activities, and replaces manual planning processes.
Express Planner features a Web-based interface and a “managed contribution” model that allows all participants to have a say in planning activities, IBM says. Users can also create their own planning templates, and create their own personalized hierarchies and dimensions, according to IBM. Support for write-back capabilities (which is a feature of all Cognos Express modules) allows changes to be quickly propagated to operational systems.
IBM also enhanced the Express Advisor module with new analysis and visualization capabilities; added new backup and restore functions to Express Manager; and brought new relational and multidimensional data modeling features to Data Advisor. It also rolled out support for Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2.
Cognos Express runs on Windows and Unix operating systems. It can support data in DB2/400 via connectors. Pricing for Cognos Express modules starts at about $12,500 each, which includes a license for 100 users.