Be sure to check out an updated version of this blog post for the 2021 Magic Quadrant here!
Another February brings another edition of everyone’s favorite yearly head scratcher – the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence! I have expressed some strong opinions on the worth of the Magic Quadrant as a tool for decision makers in the past and this year will be no different. As always I strongly urge you to read the report rather than just rely on the picture as (once again) vendor positioning on the scatter plot feels extremely disconnected from the analysis contained below it. So let’s take a look at the 2020 Magic Quadrant as it relates to Cognos Analytics.
A big change to the Magic Quadrant this year is the return of enterprise reporting as key differentiator for what they are now calling ‘ABI platforms.’ The second differentiator is ‘augmented analytics’, which is integrated ML and AI assisted data prep and insight generation. Gartner is now calling visualization capabilities a commodity. What’s old is new again.
The return of enterprise reporting
This should be great news for Cognos Analytics! Cognos is a recognized leader in enterprise reporting. In fact Cognos’ reliance on enterprise reporting was the raison d’etre for knocking it out of the leaders quadrant to begin with.
It’s extremely curious, then, that IBM’s positioning on this quadrant was not more markedly improved. It’s even more curious that Gartner writes of enterprise reporting, ‘At present, these needs are commonly met by older BI products from vendors like…IBM (Cognos, pre-version 11)’. It’s almost as if Gartner is unaware that Cognos 11 meets the same enterprise reporting needs as previous versions. At the very least they seem unwilling to give IBM credit for it on the chart. The write-up tells a different story.
Augmented analytics gain steam
The second differentiator on the Magic Quadrant is also good news for Cognos. The platform’s augmented analytics capabilities have seen tremendous investment in the 11.1 release stream and are legitimately ahead of most vendors I have hands on experience with (Power BI, Tableau, Domo, Incorta being the primary ones.) Observe:
- Automated ML driven forecasts
- Chatbot for NLQ and visualization creation
- An entire AI driven augmented analytics interface
- AI driven data prep
- Integrated jupyter notebooks that write to and read from Cognos data
That’s a lot. If you want a comprehensive set of powerful, modern augmented analytics capabilities Cognos is a great choice.
The fact is that Cognos’ strength lines up perfectly with Gartner’s 2020 market differentiators, while it’s only ‘weakness’ – self-service visualization – is now considered a commodity. Again, why are they so poorly represented in the MQ image, and does the actual analysis tell a different story?
What does Gartner say about Cognos Analytics?
This write up is a lot rosier for IBM than the dismal MQ image suggests. I’ve summarized Gartner’s written analysis of IBM for you below:
- Cognos is one of the few offerings that offers all critical capabilities and differentiators in a single platform
- IBM’s roadmap includes AI driven data prep, social media analytics and a long term goal of unifying self-service, enterprise reporting and planning (think Planning Analytics) in a single platform
- Cognos can be deployed on-prem or in any cloud, unlike many other vendors
These significant strengths seem totally disconnected from where they have IBM placed on the quadrant. If enterprise reporting and augmented analytics are key differentiators between ABI platforms and Cognos is one of the only offerings that has it in a unified platform, how are they not better represented on the completeness of vision axis? Baffling!
- It is not often the sole enterprise standard
- We think it costs more than other vendors
- People don’t call us as much as they used to about Cognos
That last point is the key to unlocking the reality of how the Gartner Magic Quadrant for business intelligence really works. Let’s see why.
Gartner is a self-driven feedback loop
A huge component of ranking on the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence is straight up how often prospective customers call them about various tools. They don’t call asking about Cognos very much, ergo Cognos has a poor ranking. Don’t believe me? Look at my analysis of their MQ for planning platforms to see how survey scores seemed to have no impact on their ranking of Oracle as the market leader – Oracle’s survey scores were horrible!
Ask yourself, would you call Gartner to discuss a BI tool they rank in the bottom third of vendors? You wouldn’t. You call Gartner to talk about Microsoft, Tableau, Qlik and (bafflingly) Thoughtspot. Otherwise you call someone else. As long as this remains a major criteria for ranking Gartner will remain a market distorting self-feedback mechanism.
By this same logic, Cognos is the world’s #1 business intelligence tool in the Ryan Dolley Magic Quadrant as it represents 90% of my calls!
Why the 2020 Magic Quadrant should make you feel good about IBM Cognos Analytics
The BI market is shifting once again. Visualization is a commodity, enterprise reporting is king and augmented analytics is on the rise. As I’ve outlined above, IBM Cognos Analytics’ feature set is extremely well positioned to thrive in the landscape Gartner describes, whether or not they recognize it. There simply is no platform that offers the total package of mode 1, mode 2 and augmented analytics like Cognos.