Cognos Makes A Smart Move To Pick Up Applix

Paul Hamerman

Continuing the trend of rapid consolidation in the business performance solutions (BPS) space, Cognos announced a definitive agreement to acquire Applix on Sept. 5. Cognos is positioning the acquisition as an extension of its financial performance management capability. The combination is an interesting contrast of styles:

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BI Dominoes Continue To Fall...

Boris Evelson

by Boris Evelson.

Today Cognos announced its intention to acquire Applix, Inc for a cash tender offer of $17.87 per share, or approximately $339 million.

This acquisition is primarily about performance management, and I quote my colleague, Paul Hamerman: “This continues a trend of rapid consolidation in the business performance solutions space, following acquisitions of pure plays by larger BI and ERP vendors. Applix has been a stellar performer as a flexible platform for customers to rapidly implement applications for planning, budgeting, forecasting and business performance analytics. Although Cognos has been a leader in performance management solutions, the Applix technology gives it an opportunity to refresh its offerings and more aggressively sell to the midmarket.”

The BI side of this acquisition is all about TM1 OLAP technology. Cognos’s Powerplay OLAP product has been trailing Microsoft SQLServer Analysis Services and Hyperion (recently acquired by Oracle) Essbase in market adoption. With TM1, a memory-based OLAP cube, Cognos achieves several objectives:

  • Leapfrogs Microsoft and Oracle with one of the fastest read/write OLAP technologies on the market.
  • Provides an enterprise grade in-memory OLAP alternative to fast-growing and increasingly popular QlikTech, which is more of a departmental solution.
  • Provides additional midmarket entry points for Cognos

The future of the rest of the Applix BI products — reporting, querying, dashboards, and data integration — is quite murky. Cognos will face the same challenge as Oracle now does with the Hyperion acquisition: Establishing a strategy and a road map of overlapping product portfolio integration or sunsetting/retirement.

Web 2.0 Changes The Information Workplace

by Erica Driver and Connie Moore.

When Forrester first published the report The Information Workplace Will Redefine The World Of Work At Last in June of 2005, we described the Information Workplace as contextual, role-based, seamless, guided, visual, and multimodal. We included some Web 2.0 technologies like blogs and wikis in our discussion about the elements of the Information Workplace. But the impact Web 2.0 will have on the way people work goes way beyond new collaboration tools. With Web 2.0:

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Dashboards — Turning Information Into Actions

Boris Evelson

by Boris Evelson.

I get many questions on dashboards and scorecards and the role these tools play in BI (Business Intelligence). If we use Forrester’s definition of BI — a set of methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information — then we see that dashboards are just the tip of the BI iceberg. One cannot build “just a dashboard”, without considering, architecting and implementing  many other necessary BI layers and components such as data integration (ETL, data quality, etc), analytics (OLAP), metrics management, and many supporting components such as collaboration, knowledge management, metadata and master data management, and others. So that’s the first key takeaway: do not be fooled by 2nd tier dashboard vendor claims that one can implement an enterprise wide dashboard easily and inexpensively.

Let’s start with definitions, since I see the terms dashboards and scorecards used interchangeably:

  • Dashboards are just one style of interactive user interface, designed to deliver historical, current, and predictive information typically represented by key performance indicators (KPIs) using visual cues to focus user attention on important conditions, trends and exceptions.
  • Scorecards are a type of a dashboard which link KPIs to goals, objectives and strategies. Many scorecards follow a certain methodology, such as Balanced Scorecard, Six Sigma, Capability Maturity Models, etc.
  • Other types of dashboards include Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) dashboards and visualizations of data / text mining operations.
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BI Tug of War

Boris Evelson

by Boris Evelson.

There’s tug of war going on in the world of BI. On the one hand we have IT whose mission it is to manage and protect enterprise information assets, and on the other side there are end users who just want the data when they want it, and in the shape and form that they want it, without any limitations.

Traditional, mainstream BI vendors have catered primarily to IT target audience. These vendors will disagree, but take one look at their complex architectures, multiple layers and components, integration and support requirements, and you can’t help but agree that these are IT tools that can be used to create end user applications.

On the other hand I am seeing am emergence of smaller BI vendors that cater directly to the end users. They pitch simplicity, flexibility and little or no reliance on IT. True, these vendors do not have large enterprise functions like metadata, semantic layers, robust security and scalability, so I do not see them as enterprise-level, but rather departmental, focused solutions. Yet, the appeal to end users is undeniable.

Finding a compromise – satisfying all typical IT requirements, while empowering the end users - remains an elusive goal, and hence an opportunity for all BI vendors.

CIOs Entitlement Management Worries

Andras Cser

While I was looking through current offerings in Entitlement Management (EM), I was struck with the questions that will likely be the next logical thoughts in the CIO’s mind after they are sold on the obvious ROI of an EM solution.

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Autonomy Ushers In New Era Of Information Management With Purchase Of Zantaz

by Barry Murphy.

Today began with very interesting news — Autonomy entered into a definitive agreement to purchase message archiving and eDiscovery vendor Zantaz. This is a great purchase for Autonomy. They have already integrated IDOL server into Zantaz's archiving and eDiscovery applications, so they can capitalize on synergies immediately. eDiscovery is a hot market for both companies — the combined entities will have likely the best brand value in the eDiscovery space. With organizations truly called to action by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCPs), Autonomy/Zantaz has the solution set to help implement a short-term solution that can evolve into longer-term information management strategies (see our eDiscovery market overview for more information on how the FRCPs have become an information management spending driver).

This also makes Autonomy more attractive to the larger vendors, and I would not be surprised at all to see a CA, EMC, IBM, or Oracle in turn acquire Autonomy. Oracle makes the most sense as it is the only of the big infrastructure vendors that lacks the message archiving capability that Zantaz could provide.

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IT Must Lead Legal To The eDiscovery Promised Land

by Barry Murphy.

I recently co-presented at a workshop on eDiscovery.  Before I spoke about what enterprises are doing about exploding discovery costs and the fragmented solutions landscape, a very experienced corporate general counsel spoke to the IT-heavy audience.  The theme of his presentation was "help a lawyer today."  That's right CIOs and IT project managers - your legal team is not going to tell you how to handle eDiscovery.  You are going to be responsible for effeciently and defensibly collecting information in response to regulatory and legal requests.  In fact, legal is relying on your expertise in technologies to better manage information.

The moral of the story is that IT must take the leadership role in creating a formal, cross-functional team and process for managing eDiscovery.  Don't fret - here's a few cheat sheets to get you started:

A list of the vendors to consider in any solution (http://www.forrester.com/rb/vpc/catalog.jsp?catalogID=24)

And the questions to ask those vendors (http://www.forrester.com/Research/Document/0,7211,40824,00.html)

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Microsoft Surface: A User Experience Designed For People

by Erica Driver

At the end of May, Microsoft announced a project called Microsoft Surface. Microsoft Surface is a new, game-changing computing interface: a 30-inch display table that individuals or small groups can gather around and use collaboratively. Ms_sc_collab_photo_app The user interacts with Surface using natural hand gestures, touch, and physical objects placed on the surface. Here's a photo courtesy of Microsoft, but photos don't do Surface justice so check out the demo on Microsoft's Web site.

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Use Real Metrics To Assess Value Of Collaboration

by Erica Driver

When trying to establish metrics for the success of your collaboration strategy or software implementation, use measures of real business value, not false indicators.

False Indicators

  • Number of items in a discussion thread
  • Number of community members
  • Megabytes of unstructured content in a site
  • How many times you get in front of decision makers to present -- and the responses you receive
  • Number of ideas entered into an idea tracking system
  • Repeat users on a site (e.g., team workspace, wiki, blog, community)
  • Number of site visits

Problems With False Indicators

  • Can be manipulated for positive results
  • Not valued by business stakeholders
  • Ideas don't automatically translate into business value
  • Use of a software tool does not mean it is producing results -- it could be nothing more than a productivity sinkhole
  • Time a user spends on a site may indicate an affinity but does not mean the content on the site is influencing the reader to create higher value

Measures Of True Business Value

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