IBM Cognos Express: Easy BI?

On Monday, IBM gave me a sneak peek of its new business analytics software tool for midsized clients. The name of the new product is Cognos Express, and IBM’s press release says it’s an “all-in-one business intelligence and planning solution designed specifically for midsized clients.”

Designed and priced for midsized companies and derived from the original IBM Cognos software, Cognos Express is composed of a set of modules delivered in a preconfigured solution: Express Reporter, Express Advisor, and Express Xcelerator, all managed by a centralized administration and data management center. It will be possible to buy the complete suite or to start only with modules you need. In other words, every module has the capability to work together or separately.

Each module accomplishes specific tasks:

IBM Cognos Express Reporter is the reporting and query tool. It’s designed to provide user with the necessary capabilities to design, maintain, and publish reports on the Web. One of its characteristics is the strong use of metadata to present information oriented toward business users. Of note: the capability to access several types of data sources, and the capability to create ad hoc reports.

IBM Cognos Express Advisor is designed to provide capabilities to build Web-based dashboards, and interactive reports and charts. Interestingly, it also includes in-memory analytics capabilities to connect with operational data. It also makes conditional formatting possible, as well as “what if” capabilities and workflow management.


Figure 1. Cognos Express interactive dashboard [click to enlarge] 

IBM Cognos Express Xcelerator, another very interesting feature, is a tool to enhance the traditional Excel spreadsheet with an in-memory analytics engine. This will enable midsize companies to transform Excel into a business analysis tool with features like “what if” scenarios and in-memory capabilities.


Figure 2. Cognos Express graph layout capability [click to enlarge] 

As mentioned above, all these features are managed by a central administration and data management tool. The intent is to integrate all core capabilities into one administrative module. This will enable companies to have a single Web administration console and to tighten security with a role-based access scheme. Of course, because it is designed for midsize companies, there are some restrictions in terms of the licensing model: it’s single-host restricted, with a maximum of 32 cores, and a maximum of 100 users.


Figure 3. Cognos Express Web panel administrator [click to enlarge] 

These are only some highlights of IBM Cognos Express. Of course, as I mentioned before, here at TEC we are very interested in a more in-depth analysis of this really interesting product, once it is released. IBM wants Cognos Express to be an easy-to-deploy and easy-to-use tool.

You can visit the official IBM Cognos Express site at, or see more information on other BI products at TEC’s Vendor Showcase.

I welcome your thoughts—please leave a comment below, and I’ll respond as soon as I can.

[Editor's note: all images in this post are provided courtesy of IBM]
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