MUFI Rating & Risk – IBM Cognos

MUFI Rating & Risk – 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.

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.

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.

What We Do and Research Access

Using the Diagram

Hover over each bullet or plus sign to see more explanation. To move to a different bullet point, just “hover off” and then hover over the new bullet.


Research Access

  • Do You Need to Access Research in this Area?

    Put our independent analysis to work for you to improve your spend.