Executive Summary

  • This is the Brightwork Research & Analysis software rating series.
  • We rate both the software and estimate the risk of implementing each application.

MUFI Rating & Risk for IBM Cognos

MUFI: Maintainability, Usability, Functionality, Implement ability

Vendor: IBM (Select For Vendor Profile)


IBM acquired Cognos in 2007, and IBM is still having problems with digesting Cognos. IBM needed a leading solution to compete with Oracle and SAP, and Cognos was an appealing candidate after Hyperion was scooped up by Oracle, and SAP acquired Business Objects.

Application Detail

IBM Cognos is a high maintenance and highly dated application. The value of Cognos has significantly declined since acquired by IBM. As usual, support has declined, prices have increased, and innovation has dissipated.

IBM Cognos is by far the lowest rated BI system we have ever evaluated, and unsurprisingly it has the lowest buyer satisfaction level of any of the BI applications that we cover. We literally could not find anything that IBM Cognos does well, and it’s not a question of whether the application should be reviewed for purchased by buyers because its time for it to be sunsetted. This is why we predict that it is very likely that IBM will acquire one of the up and coming vendors such as QlikView, Birst or Tableau. We just hope that it is not Tableau because we don’t want to see our favorite BI software vendor completely halt its innovation. However, when they do, it is relatively well guaranteed that the business press will jump on board with how visionary the acquisition is and how it will allow “IBM to create a multifaceted BI solution that will deliver outstanding value to customers.” The journalist will very carefully never check and will never know that these types of acquisitions have never worked to help accomplish that with BI acquisitions in the past.

IBM Cognos is primarily implemented by IBM Global Services, which is one of the major consulting companies. As IBM is more services business than software driven, Cognos implementations take about as long as any other application, which is implemented by a major consulting company. IBM has a great deal of credibility with some clients with regards to technology advice. However, the problem is that all of IBM’s advice comes with a heavy financial bias. That is they are serving as a “trusted advisor,” but curiously all of their recommendations lead to the selection of either IBM or partner software (i.e., Oracle or SAP) for which they have large numbers of resources for which they can bill. How a firm can be both a trusted advisor while they both own applications, and have resources trained on specific products, is difficult to understand. IBM has a clear and indisputable conflict of interest in any recommendation it makes. IBM Sales consistently represents Cognos as a one-stop location for all BI needs that a company has when Cognos can only perform the backend of the BI architecture – and it is not even a competitive solution for its bread and butter. As Cognos is aging with little new development, scalability is increasingly becoming a problem. The idea that Cognos is a single quality solution for BI shows that all of IBM’s technical knowledge will never extend beyond their financial bias.

As with Oracle BI, and SAP Business Objects, IBM Cognos was once a more competitive application in the BI space, but no BI application can continue to be innovative and prominent after being acquired by one by a giant conglomerate. All three applications are hurtling towards irrelevancy, with IBM soon in need of performing another acquisition to replace Cognos in the lineup. Smart companies will steer clear of IBM Cognos.

MUFI Scores

All scores out of a possible 10.

MUFI Scores

Search for the vendor in this table using the search bar in the upper right of the table. Shortening Key: 
  • Ma. = Maintainability
  • Us. = Usability
  • Fu. = Functionality
  • Im. = Implementability
Average Score for Big ERP5. ERP
Average Score for CRM6.
Average Score for Small and Medium ERP8.386.78.5Small and Medium ERP
Average Score for Finance8.88.888.8Finance
Average Score for Demand Planning7.67.277.1Demand Planning
Average Score for Supply Planning6.76.976.8Supply Planning
Average Score for Production Planning6.86.976.9Production Planning
Average Score for BI Heavy5. Heavy
Average Score for PLM77.26.87.3PLM
Average Score for BI Light7.78.798.3BI Light
Arena Solutions Arena PLM 10101010PLM
AspenTech AspenOne48107Production Planning
Birst 88.5108BI Light
ERPNext10107.510Small and Medium ERP
Delfoi Planner866.57Production Planning
Demand Works Smoothie SP910710Supply Planning
Hamilton Grant RM1098.59PLM
IBM Cognos2.731.53BI Heavy
Infor Epiphany7865CRM
Infor Lawson8767Big ERP
Intuit QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions9959Finance
JDA DM97.588Demand Planning
Microsoft Dynamics CRM2322CRM
NetSuite CRM6433CRM
Netsuite OneWorld7788Big ERP
Oracle BI4436BI Heavy
Oracle CRM On Demand4535CRM
Oracle Demantra533.54.5Demand Planning
Oracle JD Edwards World4136Big ERP
Oracle RightNow6745CRM
PlanetTogether Galaxy APS10101010Production Planning
Preactor8737Production Planning
QlikTech QlikView99109BI Light
Rootstock9899Small and Medium ERP
Sage X38878Big ERP
Salesforce Enterprise88.597.5CRM
SAP APO DP3432Demand Planning
SAP APO PP/DS2243Production Planning
SAP APO SNP3484Supply Planning
SAP BI/BW1.5242BI Heavy
SAP Business Objects32.573BI Heavy
SAP ECC336.53Big ERP
SAP SmartOps4475.5Supply Planning
SAS BI6.5796BI Heavy
SAS Demand Driven Forecasting7897Demand Planning
Tableau (BI)9101010BI Light
Tableau (Forecasting)10859Demand Planning
Teradata86.39.76BI Heavy
ToolsGroup SO99 (Forecasting)7897Demand Planning
ToolsGroup SO99 (Supply)56107Supply Planning

Vendor and Application Risk

Buyers of IBM Cognos will get the political defensibility of having “purchased IBM,” and therefore having done their “research.” However, buyers will pay the price during the IBM Cognos implementation. An IBM Cognos purchase will mean the use of IBM Global Services, which the highest possible consulting expense along with receiving advice of dubious quality. Much of the time will be spent on the part of the IBM consulting partner explaining that the long time and expense of the project is simply the nature of BI implementation, and there is nothing that can be done about it. However, our research indicates that this incorrect, plenty of software vendors are doing things about the productivity problems of BI implementations – it just does not happen to be IBM.

Likelihood of Implementation Success

This accounts for both the application and vendor-specific risk. In our formula, the total implementation risk is application + vendor + buyer risk. The buyer specific risk could increase or decrease this overall likelihood and adjust the values that you see below.

Likelihood of Application Implementation Success and Failure

Estimates are for a typical project. A specific implementation requires details from the project to make a project-specific estimate.

Search for the application in this table using the search bar in the upper right of the table.
ApplicationProb of Implementation SuccessProb of Implementation Failure
SAP Smartops0.390.61
NetSuite CRM0.460.54
Sugar CRM0.620.48
Base CRM0.910.09
SAP CRM0.350.65
Salesforce Enterprise0.720.28
QlikTech QlikView0.820.18
Tableau (BI)0.980.02
SAP Crystal Reports0.460.54
SAS BI0.760.24
Oracle BI0.350.65
IBM Cognos0.230.77
Infor Epiphany0.580.42
Microsoft Dynamics CRM0.260.74
Oracle RightNow CRM0.410.59
Oracle CRM On Demand0.360.64
SAP Business Objects0.320.68
SAP BI/BW0.250.75
SAP PLM0.290.71
Hamilton Grant RM0.890.11
Arena Solutions0.960.04
Delfoi Planner0.70.3
PlanetTogether Galaxy APS0.960.04
AspenTech AspenOne0.550.45
SAP APO PP/DS0.270.73
Demand Works Smoothie SP0.930.07
ToolsGroup SO99 (Supply)0.820.18
Demand Works Smoothie0.960.04
Tableau (Forecasting)0.90.1
SAS Demand Driven Forecasting0.820.18
ToolsGroup SO99 (Forecasting)0.860.14
JDA DM0.570.43
Oracle Demantra0.330.67
SAP APO DP0.280.72
Intuit QB Enterprise0.80.2
Microsoft Dynamics AX0.40.6
SAP Business One0.490.51
Sage X30.620.38
Infor Lawson0.580.42
Epicor ERP0.40.6
Oracle JD Edwards World0.310.69
Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne0.360.64
SAP ERP ECC/R/30.320.68
NetSuite OneWorld0.650.35

Risk Definition

See this link for more on our categorizations of risk. We also offer a Buyer Specific Risk Estimation as a service for those that want a comprehensive analysis.

Risk Management Approach

Managing the risk of an IBM Cognos implementation is extremely challenging, and a buyer can put themselves on the best footing by hiring a competent and tough project manager – someone who has experience with IBM, but someone who does owe their allegiance to IBM. This resource must be willing to call out when they invariably try to present false information during the project. If the project manager is insufficiently technical, IBM will bluff them on technology, if the resource does not have a strong backbone, IBM will just push them over.

Finished With Your Analysis?

To go back to the Software Selection Package page for the BI Heavy software category. Or go to this link to see other analytical products for IBM Cognos.