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Cognos Discussion Day Archive - 03/27/2002

Cognos Discussion Day Archive - 03/27/2002

Cognos Discussion Day Archive - 03/27/2002

Author: searchCRM
Subject: Discussion Day March 27th with Cognos
Date Posted: 03/27/2002

Join us all day today, March 27th, for a discussion with Scott Lawrence, Senior Director of Analytic Applications at Cognos. Scott will be monitoring this discussion board throughout the day, responding to your questions and comments. This is your chance to get answers to your most important questions, so post them now.

With more than 8 years of dedicated business intelligence experience at Cognos, Scott Lawrence also draws from eclectic and international business experience from Global 2000 companies like Andersen Consulting Credit Suisse and the Akita City Board of Education (Akita, Japan). Working in close contact with some of the world's largest companies, Scott Lawrence has held management roles in all areas of Cognos, the world's leading business intelligence vendor. His expertise lies in identifying growth opportunities through joint marketing, product integration, high profile marketing bundles, and prospective partnerships. Lawrence received his Bachelor of Commerce (with honors) from Queens University School of Business.


Author: searchCRM
Subject: Analytic applications
Date Posted: 03/27/2002

What is the Cognos definition of analytic applications? How big is this market?

Posted in response to: Analytic applications
Author: ScottLawrenceCOGNOS
Subject: Re: Analytic applications
Date Posted: 03/27/2002

According to Henry Morris of IDC, the man who coined the term, calls analytic applications a way to optimize financial performance, customer relationships, and the production and delivery of products and services. Our definition is they are a packaged, extensible software solution that drives and enables better decision making. Cognos believes very strongly that our analytic applications are a profound strategic edge for our customers because of the unique and specialized technological and business understanding we bring to the table and build into the products. Cognos believes we have a head start in this market. We've been working on these solutions for the past 2 plus years.

Regarding the size of the market...
According to International Data Corp., the worldwide packaged analytic applications market surpassed $2.5 billion in 2000. That number is expected to grow to the tune of 20 per cent compound annual growth when it is expected to hit 6.2 billion in 2005.

Author: searchCRM
Subject: Cognos, Oracle, JD Edwards
Date Posted: 03/27/2002

You recently announced Cognos Analytic Applications for Oracle eBusiness Suite. Cognos made a similar announcement about your leadership in the J.D. Edwards market. How is this different?

Posted in response to: Cognos, Oracle, JD Edwards
Author: ScottLawrenceCOGNOS
Subject: Re: Cognos, Oracle, JD Edwards
Date Posted: 03/27/2002

Last year, we provided customers with an entire enterprise foundation of applications for J.D. Edwards. which proved a very strong catalyst – propelling the J.D. Edward-focused Analytic Applications out into the market. Today, Cognos is rounding out the analytical applications for key business functions and providing to the market the most comprehensive, in-depth analytics solution around J.D. Edwards and Oracle ever offered – from general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable and procurement to sales and inventory analysis.

Author: searchCRM
Subject: Analytics Apps vs. Core tools
Date Posted: 03/27/2002

How does Cognos Analytic Applications differ from your core tools offering?

Posted in response to: Analytics Apps vs. Core tools
Author: ScottLawrenceCOGNOS
Subject: Re: Analytics Apps vs. Core tools
Date Posted: 03/27/2002

What makes our Analytic Applications the strongest available is the combination of the built-in business content with a production-ready architecture AND Cognos best-in-market business intelligence tools. Cognos Analytic Applications leverage Cognos Business Intelligence to provide the strongest possible interface into the data – no one else has the opportunity to have this breadth of capability for the business communities to reflect their roles and requirements. From visualizations and scorecarding to multidimensional analysis and interactive reporting. These are highly complimentary. In fact, we are doing exactly what a customer would do with our tools given all the time and access to specialized skills – develop and implement business applications to provide answers to the strategic questions of your organization - executives, management and line workers alike. This also means we can, and do, provide our Analytic Applications customers with the same tools we used to develop the Analytic Applications – increasing the flexibility for our customers.

Cognos Analytic Applications are focused on key business areas in today's organization. Cognos is committed to understanding the absolute in's and out's of departmental and enterprise-wide requirements. Analytic Applications focus on the unique and special requirements of the users in key functional areas and types of environments. This specialization requires the kind of focus that our integrated teams deliver every day. It also signals a real level of commitment to our customers.

Author: LyndaP
Subject: Competitors
Date Posted: 03/27/2002

Who are your biggest competitors and why are you better?

Posted in response to: Competitors
Author: ScottLawrenceCOGNOS
Subject: Competition
Date Posted: 03/27/2002

Cognos is the market leading business intelligence vendor. With more than 15 years of experience working with reporting and analytics, more than 19,000 customers and over 2.4 million business users, we have the strongest base of business veterans to gain our business content. We have also acquired companies, technologies and their expertise over the years to augment our offering to include ETL and the broadest range of business intelligence capabilities available in the market - including visualizations, scorecards, notifications, multidimensional/OLAP, and reporting. We have been working on Analytic Applications for many years and have had Analytic Applications available in the market for more than 2 years. We have built the enterprise model and gone through the head aches and growing pains that the other vendors are only now starting to experience.

In this way, we are really alone in the marketplace.

There are recent entrants in this space. These are:

ETL vendors. These companies approach Analytic Applications from a data background. They have a customer base in the IT organization of the business and have a strong understanding of data transformations. The difficulty with this perspective is:
- lack of direct business user interaction to drive core requirements and analytics
- often do not understand multidimensionality that business user thrive on
- little or no business intelligence offerings
- often no pre-defined mappings to quickly bring the data in from known sources
The result is a services-heavy project with questionable business rules governing the solution and a long implementation cycle.

ERP Vendors: These companies come from a core strength of understanding how to run the day-to-day operations of the business and an understanding of how they have stored their own data. The problem here is:
- their strength is transaction not business analytics
- their analytics are only relevant for their own data
- lack of business intelligence tools strengths
- often have a structured and inflexible extraction capability.
The result is a closed solution, with limited flexibility and low points for business intelligence tools capability - meaning limited freedom and value for the business decision-maker.

Other Business Intelligence Vendors: These vendors come from a strength of interacting with business users, understanding reporting and analytics, and are very open with their solutions. However:
- they are specifically missing the ETL capabilities
- they do not have the breadth of business intelligence capabilities available from Cognos
The end result is, again, a very services heavy effort to understand the source system, build extractions and transformations, and then deploy to users.

Author: HeatherEsch
Subject: analytic solutions
Date Posted: 03/27/2002

How important do you think it is to have analytic solutions that are specific to industries/verticals (telecom/pharma/financials, etc) and do you have plans in that area?

Posted in response to: analytic solutions
Author: ScottLawrenceCOGNOS
Subject: industries
Date Posted: 03/27/2002

Our experience has been that the core analytics across a company are very similar from industry to industry. With a strong foundation and flexible, extensible architecture, industry-specific elements are easily incorporated during implementation. We already have Cognos Analytic Applications being used by companies in many verticals - from industrial manufacturers consumer goods to pharmaceuticals to retail. One of our core values is Extensible for Competitive Advantage. We've made it straightforward to extend the applications and incorporate any unique pieces you may require - and that includes adding such metrics as 'cement drying time' which is specific to a cement manufacturer.

Having said that, the strongest value for specific verticals comes from having a strong and broad set of over 3,000 partners, with domain expertise in many verticals. These partners bring that expertise to the solution as they implement our Analytic Applications.

Author: anniez
Subject: RIM Blackberry
Date Posted: 03/27/2002

I heard you recently formed a partnership with RIM, the makers of Blackberries. Can you tell me more about that, ie, how is BI information used on a Blackberry?

Posted in response to: RIM Blackberry
Author: ScottLawrenceCOGNOS
Subject: Re: RIM Blackberry
Date Posted: 03/27/2002

Our launch of Cognos NoticeCast speaks to one of the key issues of today's information workers ... information is mission critical. There is a time value with information. The faster you get the information the more powerful the information is and the more effective you are. Now think of the powerful interplay of Cognos analysis and our narrowcast, active BI approach with Cognos NoticeCast. Through analysis of customer trends you find out that any customer that calls in with a high priority issue to customer service within three months of their service contract renewal churns. This gives you the basis of a threshold and key business issue for Cognos NoticeCast to watch. You can then set up Cognos NoticeCast alerts for your key account managers, letting them know instantly when the SLAs for their key customers slip beyond threshold. This allows them to take action - even on the basis of operational data - that something is happening with these customers. That information, with a relevant report is delivered right to your RIM device.

That's powerful.

BlackBerry is one of the most robust wireless enterprise solutions available on the market today. With the agreement, BlackBerry customers will benefit from the powerful interplay of Cognos' robust, industry-leading business analytics and Cognos NoticeCast's unique narrowcast, push business intelligence functionality. Combined with the completely integrated BlackBerry solution, Cognos NoticeCast gives businesses a unique means to pinpoint true business patterns and build agent alerts for pervasive wireless delivery.

Cognos NoticeCast, tightly integrated into the Cognos Series 7 business intelligence framework, provides organizations a way to monitor and alert information in transactional or operational systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), supply chain management (SCM), customer relationship management (CRM), or any relational data store. Designed for use by business and technical users alike, Cognos NoticeCast notifies and alerts decision makers to issues with customer relationships, supply chain activity, sales and financial performance, or any other business event.

Author: Swiss23
Subject: BI vs. KM
Date Posted: 03/27/2002

What's the difference between business intelligence tools and knowledge management tools?

Posted in response to: BI vs. KM
Author: ScottLawrenceCOGNOS
Subject: Re: BI vs. KM
Date Posted: 03/27/2002

Knowledge Management is a very broad space and is defined differently depending on the company and person you talk to within a company. The core of most definitions is that it is an aggregation of technologies, including relational data and document management, driven to effectively store information so that it is readily available when required. The core to this is the concept of centrally managing these assets for an information worker to locate easily.

Some companies do lump business intelligence (BI) in this definition. However, BI has a different objective - beyond just central storage and easy location of an existing piece of information.

Business Intelligence (BI) is focused on leveraging an information asset for reporting and analytics. The business decision-maker uses BI to manipulate and explore the information - potentially combining it in brand new ways - to understand time trends, issues or opportunities in the business. This information may be in a relational or multidimensional structure optimized for reporting and analytics. Thus the kind of information focused on for BI are more specific, but the usage and interaction with the data has a broader context.

Author: FiFi26
Subject: Acquisition
Date Posted: 03/27/2002

I recently read that Cognos is considering an acquisition sometime next year. Any ideas about which companies you'll be looking at?

Posted in response to: Acquisition
Author: ScottLawrenceCOGNOS
Subject: Re: Acquisition
Date Posted: 03/27/2002

I can't really speculate about acquisition targets. I can tell you Cognos is well positioned financially and is looking to use that leverage to bring in technology and/or skills to compliment and extend our existing offerings. Today we are the leader in business intelligence and analytic applications and are poised to further solidify that position.

Author: TimJones
Subject: Scope of Analytic Applications
Date Posted: 03/27/2002

Bob, Scott -
There is a deal of hype regarding Analytic Applications -
where does Cognos designate the scope - do you consider data mining within this context, if so, what is your view of that in real-time - how intrusive is it allowed to be, what is the Cognos view on embedded data mining (or even extreme analytics - my term!) within CRM?

Posted in response to: Scope of Analytic Applications
Author: ScottLawrenceCOGNOS
Subject: Re: Scope of Analytic Applications
Date Posted: 03/27/2002

Analytic Applications includes applying business intelligence (BI) technologies on top of a data source optimized for reporting and analysis. Data mining is a valid form of BI that adds value to an Analytic Application. In fact most decision makers think top-down and will intuitively work better when able to drill down through the data.

I may be reading into your question a little, however it almost sounds like you are asking about the appropriateness (intrusiveness) of running analytics on top of a production system. This is an important point to raise. Analytic Applications specifically extract the data off the operational system and populate a data warehouse for a number of important reasons:

- Impact on the production system - if you have a large number of users interacting with your production operational data, you have potential to have a significant impact on the CPU cycles on that system and could slow it down at a crucial time when you need those cycles (i.e. at invoicing time for a credit card company)

- Performance of analysis - operational systems are designed for capturing data and optimize the storage. This results in a normalized data model with potentially thousands of tables. When trying to ask a question about, for example, margins on sales over time by geography for specific customer types, this query will have less than stellar performance - if it can be done at all. These reports would result in many, many tables being joined to collect the data required. Each time a table is joined, you are going to impact CPU cycles and lengthen the time to getting a result back. Analytic Applications data warehouses are optimized for reporting and analytics to reduce the number of joins required to get data out. Thus the business user's experience is better and they will make better, more frequent use of the data to make better decisions.

Business decision-makers need real-time access to data to interact with it and get a response in real-time. However their definition of real-time is not always requiring access to a transaction as it is posted to an operational system. This kind of real-time interaction is often more transactional in nature and does not require historical data to give it a lot of context for analysis and reporting. Most business reporting and analysis requirements are met with periodic updates to the data - often nightly.

Posted in response to: Re: Scope of Analytic Applications
Author: TimJones
Subject: That provides the Management Reporting View
Date Posted: 03/27/2002

Thanks Scott -
I agree and understand that it is necessary to create an analytic warehouse (definitions on that can vary!) - particularly as the valuable data for reporting often comes from disparate sources. Also, querying [often complex] these data sources can be expensive on the production systems (as you say, complex joins etc - plus the whole issue of data integrity and completeness).

But are we not seeing a requirement for real-time analytics in CRM - instant profiling of customers at the call-center, adaptive one-to-one marketing, prediction of propensities, etc? You might agree that this is different from management reporting (OLAP) - which is often summary - but is it still an Analytic Application? Or should we create a new term to avoid confusing our customers who may still be coming to terms (if they ever will) with OLAP, MOLAP, ROLAP or just spreadsheet reports?

Will Cognos be offering data-mining functionality as part of its Analytic Application suite? If you do already - could you provide us with a brief description - how important do you think it will become?

Posted in response to: That provides the Management Reporting View
Author: ScottLawrenceCOGNOS
Date Posted: 03/28/2002

Hi Tim,
You are correct in that real-time is popping up in some areas, however the relative importance will depend on the users. I still find it is focused in small pockets where real-time is truly key.

Ragarding data mining, we have a range of options for users that address a wide number of requirements. Our OLAP solution is at work in tens of thousands of organizations filling their unique data mining requirements and have other technologies for more specific applications of data mining.

Kind Regards.

Author: TommyD
Subject: definition
Date Posted: 03/27/2002

Does BI include intelligence external to the organization such as competitor intelligence?

Posted in response to: definition
Author: ScottLawrenceCOGNOS
Subject: Re: definition
Date Posted: 03/27/2002

Absolutely applicable.

BI can be used for data collected inside or outside your company.

We have many instances where our customers are combining data from their internal operaitonal systems with data they collect outside the company to be able use BI to do comparisons and benchmarking. Competitor information and industry statistics are some of the most common examples of this external data.

One of the Cognos Analytic Applications core values is being extensible for competitive advantage. This extensibility includes bringing in additional data from external sources (or even just from Excel spreadsheets).

Author: Jayaraman
Subject: Applications Architecture
Date Posted: 03/27/2002

Does COGNOS handle the ETL process within its applications through 2 stages of data transformations : source system to an intermediate staging area and from the staging area to the target data model ?

Posted in response to: Applications Architecture
Author: ScottLawrenceCOGNOS
Subject: Re: Applications Architecture
Date Posted: 03/28/2002

The ETL in Cognos Analytic Applications runs through a series of data movement and transformation steps to arrive at 3 levels of available data - atomic layer (transactions), application layer (derivations, some aggregations, calculated metrics), and analytic layer (OLAP cubes for multidimensional analytics).

1. Operational data acquisition – this extracts new and changed data from Oracle eBusiness Suite – minimizes access/impact on the Oracle eBusiness Suite production system
2. Transformation and integration – transforms the raw ERP data into Facts and Dimensions
3. Population/Loading scripts – performs incremental updates to the data warehouse. This process also reflects type 2 slowly changing dimensions.
- This results in the atomic data layer – a number of fact tables and dimension tables in a relational database.
4. Derivation Transformation – generate additional metrics and aggregate mappings.
5. Population/Loading scripts – performs incremental updates to the Application Layer data
- This results in the application data layer – additional fact tables leveraging the same dimensions as the atomic data layer.
6. Multidimensional transformation – off both the Atomic Layer and Application Layer PowerPlay Transformer is used to generate OLAP cubes for focused analysis.
- This results in the analytic data layer.
Each application also comes with approximately 50 reports.

If you'd like to get into more details, please contact me through the Cognos head office (particulars on http://www.cognos.com/company/contact/worldwide.html#HQ).

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