IBM Cognos Insight – First Impressions from a Front Line Sales Perspective

IBM Cognos Insight

In March of 2012, IBM released IBM Cognos Insight to the public, a new approach to providing a solution that addresses data discovery from a personal analytics perspective.  Before we go any further, let’s stop and clarify what exactly we’re talking about. This application is NOT to be confused with “IBM Cognos Business Insight” (IBM’s name for its Unified Workspace in IBM Cognos BI 10) or “Cognos Consumer Insight” (IBM’s name for its social media analytics solution to capture sentiment).

Cognos Insight Comments

Ironside actively participated in the beta rollout of this product and was one of the first business partners to bring awareness to the general community by hosting a roadshow in various Southeast cities.  Customers that attended were unanimous in their positive feedback.  A sample of some of the comments overheard:

  • “One of the best 1.0 product releases I’ve seen IBM put out.”
  • “Drag and drop of Excel file to create a dashboard in less than sixty seconds is impressive…do that again.”
  • “The warning message when you try to bring in more than 10 dimensions is a bit harsh.” (My personal favorite)

One of the most commonly asked questions during this roadshow was “Why did IBM invest and release this solution” that quite frankly, has some overlapping BI capabilities with Cognos 10 BI?  I believe the main reason was to allow access to BI information for anyone at any time.  There are still plenty of companies we speak with that do not have a BI solution, and are still immersed in the Excel spreadsheet world.  The IBM Cognos Insight solution provides a great initial foray into the BI arena and offers a solution that companies can grow into.  The best part about IBM Cognos Insight is that it is priced right at only $500 per user license, and it is a desktop solution (think limited IT involvement, if any).  Given the recent Nucleus study that concluded for every $1 invested in business analytics, it returns $10.66 on average, that’s a steal.  The other main reason in my opinion was to address some of the niche vendor capabilities that IBM Cognos BI was not able to easily provide. With IBM Cognos Insight, IBM can now help BI power users who want more self-service and personal analytics capabilities, bypassing IT bottlenecks.

IBM Cognos Insight Feedback

As we’ve begun to introduce this application to the user community, several use cases have been mentioned by customers that would provide immediate value.  Here are a few examples to get the wheels turning:

1) Data Discovery – IBM Cognos Insight can import multiple data sources from common databases, Cognos reports and Excel to help you explore, visualize and analyze your data.  I think of it as helping you transform your data into useable information so your organization can take action to improve decision making, drive better results, etc.  I believe this has a huge side benefit of increasing BI user adoption since business users will take greater ownership in creating BI.

2) What-if/Scenario Modeling – IBM Cognos Insight leverages IBM’s in-memory OLAP cube technology (TM1), on the back-end.  This allows customers to easily create dimensions to slice and dice data in various ways, perform what-if analysis leveraging built in spread and allocation options, etc.  Given the uncertain world we live in, companies that can easily plan multiple scenarios and quickly put different plans into action to respond to constant change will outperform its peers.

3) Budget, Planning, Forecasting and Financial reporting “Light” – Since TM1 is on the back-end, you can leverage its capabilities to perform these traditional finance functions.  In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that in order to publish the cubes and reports for broader audience consumption outside of the IBM Cognos Insight tool, it will be necessary to purchase a TM1 IBM Cognos Analytic Server license.


My Parting Thoughts on IBM Cognos Insight

We understand that the release schedule of Cognos Insight will be more frequent than Cognos BI enterprise releases.  Existing IBM Cognos BI Advanced Business Author (and higher) license roles and Cognos TM1 Contributor license roles are entitled to use IBM Cognos Insight, so download it and share your feedback.  As far as my personal first impression, I’m blown away at the Insight Community portal IBM built to support this product.  There is excellent information; from getting started guides, to advanced techniques and even business accelerators.   Check it out at  Let us know what your thoughts are on the Cognos Insight product and as always don’t hesitate to ask us any questions.