Cognos, in an effort to boost its nascent analytics applications business, this week plans to unveil a set of analytics applications for Oracle eBusiness Suite.
The company plans analytics modules for sales, accounts receivable, accounts payable, general ledger, inventory and procurement, the first of which will roll out this quarter, said Scott Lawrence, director of marketing for applications at Cognos, based here and in Ottawa. Cognos, which made its name in development tools, formed a separate business unit for analytics two years ago.
Key to the Cognos effort is groundwork the company did in mapping the analytics modules back to source ERP and other operational systems. Last year, the company launched an analogous suite for J.D. Edwards World and OneWorld applications.
Analytics is a hot button issue for vendors of all stripes right now. Oracle is putting analytics into its base applications offering, as is CRM kingpin Siebel Systems. At the same time, Informatica, which built its name on Extraction, Transformation and Loading technologies required for pulling the right data out of databases for other applications, launched its own enterprise analytics push last October. That effort combines both a new J2EE Analytics Delivery Platform as well as the analytics applications to run on it.
The key to the success of any analytics applications is the underlying data model, and Cognos has done a good job with that, said Bob Moran, research vice president and managing director of data knowledge for researcher The Aberdeen Group.
"Having peered down into the [Cognos secret sauce, the ingredients demonstrate an exceptionally studied approach to delivering end-to-end analytical applications," Moran said.
As Oracle and other big ISVs seek to persuade customers to stick with one vendor for most of their needs from databases to applications, third parties such as Cognos and Business Objects have to pitch their wares as having more functionality and higher value-add, observers said.
A convergence of many application and infrastructure vendors around analytics is definitely happening, Moran said.
"Siebel, not to mention PeopleSoft, Oracle, SAP, Baan, are all entering. And then there are companies already in analytics like SPSS and SAS. Institutions are coming to common ground around analytics and applications ... but the depth of the tools is largely predicated on where they're coming from. The query tool guys are disposed toward query tools ... but it's mandatory that to be successful they have domain expertise, not just marketing-driven assertions about sales applications."
Cognos has looked at all the models,at the best sales analysis in the fields and built on that, said Mark Quigg, president of InBusiness Solutions, an Ottawa-based solution provider.
While Oracle may say its own analytics technology is all people need, Quigg believes otherwise. "With Oracle, you're limited to their tools, but there are still add-on costs. What they give you is basic; they charge for other stuff. Given that, you can cost-justify going to a third party [for analytics," he said.
The Cognos direct-sales team will pitch the applications to corporations with $750 million or more in annual revenue, leaving the rest of the market to partners, Lawrence said.
Cognos has also lined up a bevy of partners including CD Group, Corning Data Services, Frontstep, MSS Technologies, SSA Global Technologies and NCR's Teradata division, behind its offerings.