For a long time now, users have been asking what Big Blue plans on doing with all the acquisitions in business intelligence and analytics space (news, site) it made.

The release of Cognos 10, which combines social networking, collaboration, analytics and targets mobile workers, goes some way to answering that.

Pushed by the growth of mobile transactions and estimates that the mobile workforce will globally reach 1.19 billion by 2013, IBM has combined the technology of Cognos, a company they acquired in 2007, with Lotus Connections, launched in 2007 at Lotusphere, and is currently in version 2.5.

Added to all that is the statistical engine, which IBM bought during the SPSS acquisition in 2009, which allows users to embed algorithms into their reports from IBM's SPSS software.

IBM and Analytics

IBM is also releasing a number of other complimentary software packages that will start realizing the business intelligence ambitions that the company outlined when it bought Cognos all those years ago. The other new packages include:

  • DB2 10: A new database that can combine past, present and future data to provide a single view of information through time
  • IBM InfoSphere Server: A server that gives users the Ability to integrate all kinds of data as well as the ability to see the quality of data before it is used.

The Significance of Cognos for BI

The launch of Cognos 10 is so significant in IBM’s business intelligence strategy that it is hailing the release as “the most significant analytics offering since the acquisition of Cognos . . .” Taking a step back in time, when IBM bought Cognos it announced that within the company they saw the future of business intelligence. They underlined that vision with the US$ 5bn IBM paid for the company.

Business intelligence refers to the capturing, integration and presentation of information. Performance management is using information to assess the performance of enterprise sectors, divisions, product lines and everything else which can be boiled down into numbers.

The integration of these two domains ensures a clearer picture of where the organization truly stands, eradicating much of the bad data and information, which is sure to distort the key decision-makers vision. And that's what Cognos 10 does -- it provides the tools for decision support and reporting tools, as well as all the usual enterprise bells and whistles.

IBM, Lotus Connection and Cognos

Add to this Lotus Connection, which brings with it social collaboration, and you get some idea of what IBM is launching here.

Just to refresh your minds, IBM Lotus Connections is a social software for business. It empowers business professionals to develop,  nurture, and remain in contact with a network of their colleagues and respond quickly to business opportunities. Future enhancements include:

  • Improvements to how user generated content is moderated
  • Compliance and auditing capabilities
  • Deeper integration with WebSphere Portal and SharePoint
  • Expanded mobile support

Combine Lotus Connections software with Cognos’s business analytics and one unified experience with intuitive navigation capabilities and simplified user experience appears.

IBM, SPSS and Analytics

The other major element in this release comes from the integration of IBM’s SPSS Modeler, which IBM bought in another acquisition, with the BI environment. Now part of Cognos' report-authoring capabilities, it enables users to gain insights from historical data. With it, they can bring predictive indicators into dashboards to deliver forward-looking insight related to risk, profitability and other conditions.

The new release moves from traditional formats of reports and charts, now supporting built-in images and videos that are interactive and provide broader analysis in a flexible format that can be accessed on most mobile devices. With the added analytics capabilities, users can also assess information from simple, real-time information to advanced, predictive “what if” analysis.

In short, the release provides business users not just with information about what is happening to their business or products in the present, it also integrates what has happened in the past, providing an extrapolated version of what will happen in the future. Then, through the social collaboration element, it shares the information with whoever needs it, whenever they need it, and through mobile support, where ever they need it.

Using interfaces taken from familiar Cognos environments, users can interact with each other in real time communities, wikis and blogs, post documents and reviews, tap into decision networks, and any other collaborative function needed to pass information to users who need it.

Over the past five years, IBM has invested more than US$ 14 billion in 24 analytics acquisitions. Announced at the Information on Demand conference in Las Vegas, IBM said Cognos 10 will be available as of next week when users will be able to see where all that acquired firepower has been used.