IBM Targets SMBs With New Cognos Application Set

business intelligence software

The new product comes on the heels of an IBM survey of 2,500 CIOs around the world that found that 83 percent of midmarket IT executives ranked business intelligence and analytics as their top priority for improving competitiveness and cutting costs.

IBM unveiled the new software at the Midsize Enterprise Summit West in Los Angeles, an Everything Channel Vision Events conference.

IBM acquired business intelligence software developer Cognos in January 2008 for $4.9 billion. While Cognos' mainstream software is widely used by business analysts in larger companies, the new Express product should broaden the market for Cognos applications to small and midsize businesses.

"I think this is going to be much more accessible for small and midmarket customers," said Kenneth Wolf, president and CEO of Revelwood, a Parsippany, N.J.-based solution provider that develops business and sales performance management solutions using Cognos software.

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IBM Cognos Express combines business intelligence and analysis tools with financial planning software in a single package. The software includes the Express Reporter query and reporting applications, Express Advisor data analysis and visualization software and Express Xcelerator financial planning, forecasting and budgeting applications.

The product, the result of a two-year development effort, is specifically designed for businesses with between 100 and 1,000 employees, said Ben Plummer, director of IBM's Cognos midmarket business unit. "We believe the midmarket will be the lead coming out of this downturn," Plummer said of the current recession.

While containing much of the same functionality in the enterprise version of Cognos, the Express product strips out some capabilities such as load balancing that small and midsize businesses are unlikely to need. The software will be priced as low as $12,000 in the U.S., he said.

While IBM will sell the IBM Cognos Express products directly, Plummer said he expects the channel to lead sales efforts for the new software. Some 360 IBM resellers have already been trained on the IBM Cognos Express software and Plummer said IBM expects more than 1,000 general business midmarket resellers, including those that already participate in the IBM Express Advantage program, to eventually carry the product.

Revelwood's Wolf said IBM Cognos Express presents a great opportunity for his company, given that it combines business intelligence and performance management capabilities in an integrated package with a price point that's appropriate for midmarket customers. "It really does provide something that we, as a partner, can deliver in one seamless, integrated solution," he said.