Cognos Extends Push Into Analytics Apps

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Cognos, in an effort to boost its nascent analytics applications business, recently introduced a set of business intelligence products for Oracle's eBusiness Suite and plans to add a set for SAP's ERP systems.

The Ottawa-based 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. Cognos, which made its name in development tools, formed a separate business unit for analytics two years ago. No date has been set for the release of the SAP modules.

The key to the success of any analytics application is the underlying data model.

Key to the effort is groundwork the company did mapping the analytics 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,software add-ons that allow knowledge workers to make financial decisions from business information teased out of databases and other applications,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. Baan, in a renewed CRM push, also stressed analytics across the breadth of its applications.

The key to the success of any analytics applications is the underlying data model, and Cognos has done a good job with that, according to Bob Moran, research vice president for 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. "They've looked at all the models, and because they have such broad expertise across applications,SAP, J.D. Edwards,they understand how these things work. They took the best examples of sales analysis applied in the field."

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 wares as having more functionality, observers 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," Moran said.

Cognos has looked at all the models, at the best sales analysis in the fields, and built on them, said Mark Quigg, president of InBusiness Solutions, an Ottawa-based solution provider. He said the structure is there for integrators to tweak applications to suit specific needs.

Quigg said while Oracle claims its own analytics technology is sufficient for most companies, he 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.

Lawrence said the new Cognos offerings will give partners the ability to return to Oracle accounts and do follow-on work. "This is a prepackaged solution that's credible [and has data models, extractions, reports and cubes. They can implement this, customize it and extend it for their business," Lawrence 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 also lined up partners CD Group, Corning Data Services, Frontstep, MSS Technologies, SSA Global Technologies and NCR's Teradata division.

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