Cognos is one of the oldest companies in the Business Intelligence ...

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Dr. Nemati ISM 611

Debby Sorrell, Rui Ling and

Erin Betts

1

COGNOS


Introduction

Cognos is one of the oldest companies in the Business Intelligence space.
Founded in 1969, as a provider of application development tools, Cognos sells its
products through a direct sales force and an extensive network of 800 reseller
s and
distributors. Cognos describes itself as a strategic supplier of enterprise business
intelligence solutions. It is a publicly held international company (
www.Cognos.com
)
operating in 12 countries around the worl
d; in 1998, its revenues amounted to $244.8
millions(U.S.).

Products

PowerPlay



Powerplay, an OLAP tool for multidimensional analysis and reporting, is
Cognos’s flagship product. The Transformer module is used to create a multidimensional
model of select
ed data or a PowerCube. Possible data sources include delimited ASCII
and field text, Clipper, dBase, Excel, FoxPro, Lotus, Paradox, Powerhouse, and fixed
-
field records. The PoweCube is made of multiple dimensions that answer the business
questions “who”
, “what”, “when” and “how much”. PowerPlay tools allow slicing and
dicing of data; a variety of graphic tools for visual data analysis are also available.

Impromptu

Impromptu provides a sophisticated means for anyone to access SQL data, with
an interface
that lets the user query and display data for everyday use. Two versions of
Impromptu are available. The Administrator version offers a variety of sophisticated
Dr. Nemati ISM 611

Debby Sorrell, Rui Ling and

Erin Betts

2

tools for designating access rights to data and distributing it across the network. The
User

version provides a flexible GUI interface and a good selection of pre
-
designed data
reports and templates and intuitive tools for creating custom reporting. It displays SQL
data in catalogs. Catalogs can be created from a variety of SQL database types, i
ncluding
Btrieve, dBase, Informix, CA
-
Ingres, Borland InterBase, MS SQL Server, Oracle 6 and
7, P aradox, SQLBase, Sybase SQL Server and Sybase System 10.

Scenario

Scenario is Cognos’ award winning data mining application that features seamless
integration

with the firm’s Impromptu and PowerPlay programs. Designed to spot
patterns and exception in data, Scenario’s intuitive interface allows users to visualize the
information being uncovered. Scenario is an innovative data
-
mining tool that enables
managers a
nd knowledge workers to discover hidden trends and patterns, and unearth
previously unsuspected correlations, without requiring them to have expert knowledge of
statistical techniques. It uncovers the patterns and relationships that exist in business data,

providing the insight needed to make informed, timely business decisions.

4Thought


The 4Thought predictive modeling tool is Cognos’ acquired data mining product
targeted at the business user.

It automates what
-
if analysis, forecasting, and effectiveness
measurement.


4Thought is integrated with Cognos’ other best
-
of
-
breed business
intelligence tools, PowerPlay, Impromptu and Scenario. 4Thought can read PowerCubes
directly allowing analyses based on summary data, or on the finest level of detail in the
Pow
erCube. Impromptu reports can be used as a data source in 4Thought. This extends
Dr. Nemati ISM 611

Debby Sorrell, Rui Ling and

Erin Betts

3

4Thought’s data access to all the relational databases that Impromptu supports. Scenario
output can be imported into 4Thought to build models or perform forecasts.

4Thought
is based on neural network technology. The original idea behind neural
network technology is to understand how the human brain works

how it can chew over
a mess of data from the external world, how it recognizes coherent patterns, and how it
associates th
ese patterns into chains of cause and effect. In the early eighties, a small
breakthrough occurred with the invention of the multilayer perceptron (MLP). The MLP
exhibited a number of interesting properties giving it real practical value as a general
mathe
matical modeling tool. Key MLP properties include:



It builds models, which can take on arbitrary non
-
linear forms.



The non
-
linear forms it assumes are plausible in real
-
world terms, e.g. they don’t
tend to have infinities, or "overshoot" when they should
be interpolating.



They use a gentle fitting process (rather than directly minimizing squared error).
Because the process doesn’t necessarily believe that all the data it is using is
perfect, neural network models have a significant advantage over conventio
nal
modeling techniques such as regression, particularly with noisy data., co
-
linear
data and small data sets.



The gentle fitting process builds models, which emphasize greatest predictive
ability rather than best fit to the data.


Bise

In November 98, Cog
nos introduced Bise 3.0 (Business intelligence for Small
Enterprise ). While the ideal prospects are companies with annual revenues of up to $250
million, the solution reportedly allows small and midsize firms to have the same cost
effective business intel
ligence benefits as larger companies. Bise 3.0 according to
Cognos, provides an easy way for small firms to get off the ground with data marts of
data warehousing projects at low cost and low risk.

Dr. Nemati ISM 611

Debby Sorrell, Rui Ling and

Erin Betts

4

Accelerator


Sales Analysis for SAP R/3 marks Cognos’ fir
st BI Application. Accelerator is
the enabling technology that unlocks the business from the SAP environment.

NovaView


NovaView OLAP viewer (pre
-
release name Aristotle) is optimized for
Microsoft’s SQL Server 7.0 (pre
-
release named Plato OLAP server).

Cognos licensed
the client software from Panorama (the same company from which Microsoft bought the
source code for Plato). The front
-
end tool allows users to change and save data in a
multidimensional OLAP Services cube, to facilitate what
-
if
-
analysis.

Database
administrators benefit form NovaView’s capability to support the creation of
multidimensional data analysis that can be deployed in a read
-
only form for casual users.
NovaView is a solid , inexpensive OLAP client to deploy.

Visualizer


Visualize
r is designed to present data in a graphical format to make business
-
data
presentation more meaningful. For example, features such as “traffic lighting” which is
the ability to color
-
code data based on value provides easy comprehension. Users can fly
thro
ugh their data, having the graphic continuously change based on a give value. In
other words, if users wanted to see company performance over time, the chart would
change through a time series. Data Visualization provides graphical slicing and dicing.

Po
werHouse


PowerHouse is a legacy application development tool. PowerHouse 4GL is the
industry proven server
-
based application development environment from Cognos that
Dr. Nemati ISM 611

Debby Sorrell, Rui Ling and

Erin Betts

5

enables business
-
critical programs to be written quickly and modified easily. Based upon

a strong data dictionary and sophisticated business data processing models, it supports
simultaneous access to leading relational database management systems and proprietary
file systems. Using a specification
-
based language, PowerHouse 4GL is used to bui
ld and
run interactive screens and menus, volume batch processes, and flexible production
reports. PowerHouse Web is an exciting new solution from Cognos for deploying
PowerHouse 4GL screen programs to the Internet or corporate intranets. Using
PowerHouse
Web, in conjunction with the latest release of PowerHouse 4GL, developers
can now build and deploy Web applications using the same robust and highly productive
tools that are already used by thousands of organizations for their core business
applications.

The PowerHouse application server is available for platforms ranging from PCs
running Windows 95, 98 or NT, through Windows NT servers and on up to the most
powerful enterprise servers running UNIX, MPE/iX, OpenVMS and OS/400.
Applications developed with t
he Cognos tools will scale to whatever number of users you
need to support

today and in the future.


Racing to the Enterprise Information Portal

In the same way that Internet content portals are the gateway to the wealth of
content on the Web, Enterprise I
nformation Portals, EIPs, will provide ubiquitous access
to business related information. EIPs will provide a personalized gateway to internally
and externally stored information that is needed to make informed business decisions.
Dr. Nemati ISM 611

Debby Sorrell, Rui Ling and

Erin Betts

6

The market segments invo
lved include Business Intelligence, Content Management, Data
Warehouse/DataMarts and Data Management.


Automation of the processes in an organization has lead to stores of data that
continue to grow exponentially. This structured data, from Enterprise R
esource Planning,
ERP, systems, legacy systems and point of sales, feed on
-
line transactional databases.
Management of this data (extract, transform and load (ETL) tasks, data cleaning,
metadata management) enables the creation of data warehouses and data
mart storage
environments for use by OLAP, data mining, query and reporting Business Intelligence
tools.

Equally overwhelming is the growth of unstructured data such as word processing
documents, e
-
mail, product specifications, project plans, forms, paper

invoices and
purchase orders, web documentation, R&D documentation and endless other unstructured
data forms. Some estimates put unstructured data as high as 80% of an organization’s
data (Merill Lynch 11
-
16
-
98). When one adds external resources availabl
e on the
Internet and audio and video files, not only the volume but also the complexity of content
management becomes obvious. Content Management systems capture, archive, index,
manage, combine and distribute internal and external information to create a

corporate
knowledge repository and have evolved from document management systems.


Even “softer” data resides in the heads of experts and flows yet untapped from the
collective minds engaged in countless projects, implementations and even failures. The
d
evelopment of Knowledge Management systems that either fuse with Content
Management systems or take on a life of their own is yet to be seen. Regardless,
Dr. Nemati ISM 611

Debby Sorrell, Rui Ling and

Erin Betts

7

enterprise portals will be the keyhole through which both structured and unstructured
information is
unlocked and accessed from anywhere by employees, customers and
suppliers via the Internet distribution channels (Internet, Intranet and Broadcasting).

It is around this vision of the future that Cognos states in their 1999 annual report
“we want Enterpri
se Business Intelligence, EBI, from Cognos to ultimately transform the
way companies run their business”. Product releases and acquisitions show that Cognos
is marching toward this goal.



In November 1998, Impromtu Web Reports was released providing a sing
le Web
-
based interface from which users can perform reporting activities that suit their
individual needs.



In December 1998, Cognos acquired the assets of Relational Matters and its
DecisionStream software. DecisionStream provides a simple, integrated ap
proach to
loading and managing data marts.



In February 1999, LEX2000 Inc. was acquired for best
-
of
-
breed financial reporting
and budgeting. The product is marketed as Cognos Financials.



Also in February, PowerPlay Enterprise Server was released as the on
ly OLAP
application server that supports Web, Windows, Microsoft Excel and mobile users
from a single, centrally administered server.



September 7
th

1999, the Cognos Platform for Enterprise BI was introduced.



Dr. Nemati ISM 611

Debby Sorrell, Rui Ling and

Erin Betts

8

Cognos Platform for Enterprise Business Inte
lligence (EBI)

The Cognos Platform for Enterprise Business Intelligence (EBI) was built from
the ground up to meet the new challenges of enterprise deployments (see exhibit 1). It is a
complete foundation for building BI applications and includes five serv
ice layers.


Portal Services:

Portal Services, called Upfront, provide a single Web
-
based
delivery infrastructure that gives users a single point of personalized access to BI and
non
-
BI content and gives IT a single point of delivery and management. Porta
l Services
support end
-
user publishing of Cognos and other business content and have a
programmable XML API for user interface customization and functionality integration.


EBI Services:

The EBI Services address all users’ (inside and outside of an organiz
ation)
business intelligence needs from a common infrastructure. It includes updated versions
of Cognos BI servers for both UNIX and NT: PowerPlay (Analysis) and Impromptu
(Reporting), as well as new Cognos Servers: Cognos Query (Query) and Cognos
Visuali
zer (Visualization). All BI Servers are based on a scaleable, distributed
architecture with load
-
balancing and fail
-
over protection. Updates to BI servers include:



Managed web reporting with prompts against OLAP data structures (delivered to
Web browser u
sers in highly formatted and printable PDF outputs).



PowerPrompts, powerful application front
-
ends to reports, allow report authors to
create a single report that can service many different needs. These application front
-
Dr. Nemati ISM 611

Debby Sorrell, Rui Ling and

Erin Betts

9

ends are completely customizable w
ith industry
-
standard languages such as, HTML,
XML and Java.



Improved ad hoc Web interaction against OLAP data sources including drillable 3
-
D
charts, calculations, and new dynamic HTML interfaces.



More powerful ad hoc web interaction relational data sourc
es including: advanced
calculations, direct query manipulation for
grouping/sorting/filtering/moving/columns, cross
-
tabs, new chart types



Advanced visualizations and score carding over the Web


Metadata Services
: Metadata Services, called Architect, addres
s the need for common
enterprise
-
wide metadata management by providing a central place to create and manage
all business intelligence metadata and business rules. Using Metadata Services, a single
metadata model can be created that spans all enterprise da
ta sources and all enterprise BI
applications. This is accomplished through a three
-
tiered architecture that isolates the
business rules form the data sources and the end applications. This architecture will also
dramatically reduce the amount of time org
anizations will spend adapting their
applications for change because all changes made in the business rule tier are
automatically inherited by any affected BI application.


BI Data Mart Creation Services
: The BI Data Mart Creation Service, called
DecisionS
tream, supports the requirements for a data infrastructure that is BI specific and
Dr. Nemati ISM 611

Debby Sorrell, Rui Ling and

Erin Betts

10

enterprise wide. This service contains BI mart modeling, transformation and creation
tools that supports shared, conformed cross
-
enterprise dimension.

Common Security Servi
ces
: A common security service, called Access Manager, allows
IT to manage and maintain users and user classes for all Cognos EBI Servers from a
single place. It allows for easy integration with other security mechanisms such as
RDBMS, OS and LDAP through

its programmable API.

Other Portal Players


Close on the heels of the announcement of the Cognos Platform for Enterprise BI,
Oracle announced a Portal Framework to be released in 2000. The framework employs
reusable components, called portlets, to point
to any information source, including
applications, databases and other portals. It will give users and business partners
consistent views and services throughout intranets and extranets. A portlet is a set of
standard Java APIs that wrap around any conte
nt source. The content source can be a
document, an application, or commonly requested pieces of information such as reports,
employee lists or external information from the Internet. The framework and portlet tools
will be integrated into Oracle WebDB v
ersion 3.0 currently in beta testing.




IBM announced the IBM Enterprise Information Portal on November 2
nd
. The
IBM EIP can integrate structured and unstructured data regardless of the vendor, location
or type. For example, information can be accessed

from document and media
management, Web, spreadsheets, e
-
mail, audio and video XML/HTML applications, and
others.

Dr. Nemati ISM 611

Debby Sorrell, Rui Ling and

Erin Betts

11

Hummingbird Communications Ltd., known for it’s terminal emulation and PC
-
to
-
Host communications market leadership, is pursing the EIP mark
et by it’s purchase of
Andyne Computing, a developer of business intelligence software and PCDOCS
document management software. Hummingbird’s president, Jim Toblin stated that
Hummingbird has all the foundation technologies needed for an EIP solution, Uni
versal
Data Exchange, BI, Data Mining, Analytical Applications, Collaborative Knowledge
Management and Document Management.


The Internet has created an information explosion and has made a fundamental
change in the way companies do business. Cognos pl
ans to be a key player in this
transition; long standing partners are become direct competitors. Their past strengths in
getting the business user the data they need in a form that they can use will marry well
with the impending ambiguous browser anywher
e user interaction modes rapidly
evolving.









Dr. Nemati ISM 611

Debby Sorrell, Rui Ling and

Erin Betts

12

Exhibit 1










Dr. Nemati ISM 611

Debby Sorrell, Rui Ling and

Erin Betts

13

References
:

Biggs, Maggie, Review: Cognos aptly powers up OLAP, April 5, 1999, Enterprise
Computing, Vol. 21, Issue 14,
http://archive.infoworld.com/cgi
-
b…layArchive.pl?/99/14/e06
-
14.73.htm


Cognos 1999 Annual Report,
http://www.cognos.com/


Cognos Introduces First End
-
to
-
End Platform for True Enterprise Business
Intelligence
Solutions, Orlando, Fl, Enterprise ’99, September 7,1999,
http://www.cognos.com/whatsnew/rel_244.html


Guly, Chrispopher, Cognos looks to long
-
term gain, Software company ready to forg
o
short
-
term profits so it can invest in efforts to increase its market share, October 8, 1999,
The Ottawa Citizen,
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/hightech/present/991006/2957080
.html


Hohman, Robin Schreier, Oracle Portal Software Unifies Apps, Data, InternetWeek,
http://www.techweb.com/wire/story/TWB19990922S0008


IBM unveils new e
-
business portal initiative,
http://www.ibm.com/news/19999/11/022.phtml


Introducing a Sophisticated New Approach to Addressing Enterprise BI Requirements, A
New Technology Media Backgrounder,
http://www.cognos.com/whatsnew/platforminbg.html


Lattig, Michael, Cognos brings business intelligence lineup under one tent, InfoWorld
Electric, September 7, 1999,
http://www.infoworld.com/cgi
-
bin/displayStory/.pl?999097.eccognos.htm


Shilakes, Christopher C. and Tylman, Julie, Enterprise Software Team, Enterprise
Information Portals, Move Over Yahoo!; the Enterprise Information Portal Is on Its
Way,
Merrill Lynch & Co. RC#60232206 pages 1 to 64.


Tyo, Jay, Cognos dresses up data but adds user complexity, InfoWorld, August 9, 1999,
Vol. 21, Issue 32, wysiwyg://64/http://www.infoworld.com/cgi
-
bin/displayArchive.pl


Whiting, Rick, Portal Software t
o Debut

Business
-
Intelligence Platforms Will Integrate
Analysis Tools, Ease Management, September 6, 1999, InformationWeek Issue: 751,
http://www.techweb.com/se/directlink.cgi?IWK19990
906S0028


“Working in the E
-
economy with Enterprise Information Portals”…Featuring Jim Tobin,
President Hummingbird Communications,
http://www.hummingbird.com/