Cognos Unveils CRM Solution

  • Written By: M. Reed
  • Published: November 6 2000

Cognos Unveils CRM Solution
M. Reed - November 6, 2000

Event Summary

[October 3, 2000]

Cognos (NASDAQ: COGN; TSE:CSN), one of the world's largest business intelligence (BI) companies, today unveiled a comprehensive BI solution (including interactive reporting, data analysis, and scorecarding) for the customer relationship management (CRM) marketplace. The announcement was part of an aggressive CRM market initiative showcased at Cognos's Enterprise 2000 conference to an audience of corporate executives and industry experts. Cognos showcased its Cognos business intelligence for CRM solution as providing the extensive interactive reporting, analysis and scorecarding functionality critical to organizations looking to better attract and retain customers.

CRM is generally understood to refer to an integrated information system that is used to plan, schedule and control the presales and post sales activities in an organization. Although the dividing lines are not well-defined, CRM has generally not been understood to include the marketing function. The theory behind CRM initiatives is to improve a company's understanding of their customer's needs and preferences. Theoretically, this will create greater customer retention and easier customer acquisition.

Joanne K. Masingill, Cognos's Senior Vice president of marketing stated that "an effective CRM system is no longer a 'nice-to-have' but a must-have requirement for competing and winning in the Internet economy. Cognos allows organizations to consolidate data, across inventory to sales and customer information, to deliver the operational efficiencies and high-touch customer relationships demanded by today's customers."

Market Impact

Cognos is a very strong competitor in the business intelligence space. It is logical for them to enter the extremely hot CRM market. Their extensive experience with tools that use multi-dimensional databases (i.e., Cognos PowerPlay) should enable them to hit the ground running, giving companies the ability to drill down and across product lines, and customers the power to discover developing trends. They also have the advantage of being able to sell into their huge installed base. Companies already using Cognos's CRM solution include and United Guaranty.

In order to further accelerate their entry into the CRM market, Cognos has joined the Siebel (NASDAQ: SEBL) alliance program as a premier partner, along with 92 other vendors (at current count), many of which are also in the business intelligence space, who provide competencies not core to Siebel's business. Siebel is currently the largest CRM vendor on the operational side, but is partnering to provide some of the analytics. "The basis for successful loyalty relationships is providing a full-service approach. Siebel Systems enjoys a leading position in the customer-facing eBusiness market and Cognos is excited to be a partner," said Patrick O'Leary, Cognos vice president of strategic alliances. "CRM is a natural complement for our enterprise business intelligence solutions. Cognos and Siebel bridge the gap between business processes to ensure that customers, partners and suppliers are making consistent, coordinated decisions to grow the business and strengthen e-business relationships."

The key to this alliance is for Siebel to provide the operational CRM (such as sales force automation), and then work with other vendors to effectively analyze the data. Some of Siebel's competitors, such as E.piphany, have already made strides in this direction.

User Recommendations

The combination of Cognos's analytical product suite and Siebel's experience in what they refer to as "customer-facing eBusiness applications" should prove to be a powerful tool for companies entering the customer relationship management arena. It should be noted, however, that the product is brand new, having only been announced on October 3, 2000 at the Cognos User Conference. There will be a period of time while the kinks are worked out of the General Availability (i.e., post-beta) release.

Other vendors which should be placed on a list for consideration include Hyperion, Microsoft, MicroStrategy, and Oracle. Any companies considered should have strong underlying analytical engines, since it is the quality of the analysis that yields business value, not the mere capturing of the data.

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