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.
Want to further the conversation? Connect with me on LinkedIn and check out PMsquare’s website for help getting the most out of Cognos.
I’ve used tableau and Power BI and they are great visualisation tools, but then when you need to schedule reports to consumers on a weekly basis, containing charts, tables and lists they are far from hitting the mark. Also, they don’t provide the ability of creating a powerful multi query reports from existing packages. It takes a few minutes to build a complex model behind report and then can be reused in the future. Power query doesn’t feel reliable too to reuse without re-validating all the steps. It’s hard to see the benefits of Power BI//Tableau over Cognos in a mature environment where data exploration is not a need (except for the free licensing). I find Power BI too similar to a combination of MS Access/SQL + Excel with interactive charts which was an ok reporting solution 10 year ago
I think your take on Power BI is wrong – that being said Gartner is grossly wrong on Cognos Analytics. Both Cognos and Power BI support similar capabilities as of now. Power BI with Azure framework to support is ridiculously connected and drives adoption like crazy and real fast. IBM’s cloud story is not there yet — so they get snubbed . Tableau is just pretty IMO
Ryan Dolley says
I should say, I think Power BI is awesome and Microsoft absolutely deserves to be the leader in the MQ. But as you said, they’re way off base when it comes to CA.
How is it possible that SAP BO is better positioned than Cognos !!! and Salesforce ?? they bought tableau to replace their reporting engine.
Ryan Dolley says
Agreed completely – SAP???
Thanks! Nice summary. How can the MQ get more accurate I wonder. I think it has a quite huge impact on strategic decisions in the BI area.
Paul McLeod says
Gartner is just catering for two different audiences.
Focussing on pretty pictures is different to focussing on facts. Taking apart the facts is important, if you want the best decisions. About software for instance, or for running your business.
Or go with the pictures (charts, cats, celebrities, whatever) if you just like pretty things and want to look slick. That’s why the pictures are there.
Joeri Willems says
I totally agree that Gartner misjudges the Cognos Analytics tool. The product is indeed one of the few on the market to actually bring a solution to all potential needs of a BI solution: standard reporting tool, a dashboard tool, a link to advanced analytics tools, a modelling tool, a solution for self-service BI, and a lot of extras like scheduling, security, a web platform, etc.
For completeness of vision it should be positioned far to the right.
The problem i’m facing with IBM Cognos Analytics is still on the other parameter: ability to execute. The product still has a lot of bug diseases, and the focus on bringing new possibilities is a bit rushed. For example: they release the since 11.1.5 the new Schematics, yet nobody seems to be knowledgeable on how to assist companies on how to effectively use it. Torben recently wrote a short blog on it, which helps, but if IBM adds a little GUI control tool to easily adapt and add layout to pictures, and create the source code behind it, the whole solution would actually really enhance BI for many companies.. Missed opportunity. Another big issue is the ability to execute on bugfixing. I had a Microsoft Powerapps bug 72 hours ago. I reported it on a forum, within 24 hours a Microsoft employee replied. Within the next 24 hours they fixed the issue and released an update. That compared to the (ongoing) 4 month wait for a few simple bugfixes I reported to IBM on CA..
IBM could earn an impressive comeback to the scene. They just need to refine their approach a bit. I certainly hope they succeed.
Josef Minarik says
I totally agree. I had great expectation of CA move in MQ after the many improvements in latest versions. I have also hands on experience with Tableau, Power BI and Microstrategy. I know that CA lacks the dynamics in product version updates based on users’ comments and the community is not so great as the one for Power BI and Tableau. It is also behind the SQL performance tuning of Microstrategy. But when it comes down to the enterprise reporting it serves very well the purpose. I am waiting till the Data Modules can fully replace the FM and the Dashboarding gets to the PRO level.
Scott Gaffney says
I do not quite understand your statement “How is it possible that SAP BO is better positioned than Cognos !!! and Salesforce ?? they bought tableau to replace their reporting engine.” Could you please clarify? Who bought Tableau to replace their reporting engine, SAP?
Ryan Dolley says
Salesforce purchased Tableau is what I was trying to communicate.
Jerzy Konarski says
Just a quick note.
IBM now has many fascinating possibilities, but that doesn’t make it a good product. A product is more than a tool and it is not enough to pile functionalities to obtain the support of users.
It seems that for IBM just say “we can do”, the problem is how much matters.
You know, a few months ago I spent two days with a client working on dashboards. He’s over 15 years of Cognos – since Series 7. At the end he said “these guys should do an internship at QLICK to find out what ergonomics is”.
For Gardener to rate CA better, it has to find its way back to the users. Old and new.