In today's business landscape, the average customer is getting smarter and more informed. This is why businesses these days engage in the practice of marketing analytics to, you know, get that 360-degree view of the customer - to understand their needs and expectations and meet them. Thanks to the growing popularity of this data-driven approach, business owners have a plethora of marketing analytics tools available to them - some more capable than others.
Today, we are reviewing a marketing analytics solution from a company familiar to all - IBM. Like most of their products, IBM Cognos Analytics is also quite popular among marketers and mega corporations alike. But every business has different needs. Therefore, let's take a look at what this tool offers and see if it is a good fit for your business.
Without further ado, let's get started!
What is IBM Cognos Analytics?
Cognos Analytics is an AI-powered analytics tool from IBM, designed to help businesses make data-driven decisions. This platform provides a comprehensive set of tools for tasks such as data visualization, analytics, reporting, and collaboration. Cognos Analytics is particularly known for its scalability, flexibility, and ability to handle complex analytical tasks - not to mention its seamless integration with other IBM tools.
But the question remains, if you choose to pay for this platform, what do you get?
Starting with dashboards, well, it is the interface through which Cognos communicates your insights and analysis to you. It is where all your data comes together with all the graphs, charts, plots, tables, maps, etc. And hey, you can customize the view however you like.
As a beginner, you may not know where to start and that's okay because Cognos Analytics has plenty of templates with predesigned layouts. Now, there are a couple of ways to add visualizations to your dashboard. You can either select a data source and Cognos automatically adds the appropriate visualization or you can add the data and then select the visualization type. Another way is to just drag your collected visualizations onto the canvas.
Cognos dashboards also allow you to add text, images, and media. Plus, you can change the theme of the view or customize other elements like color and opacity.
Within Cognos Analytics, you have the flexibility to choose from a number of visualization types including area, bar, bubble, column, cross tab, drop-down list, decision tree, heat map, line, list, pie, scatter, radar, spiral, radial, and network. Based on the visualized data, you can identify insightful comparisons, relationships, and differences at a glance. A commendable feature of Cognos is its ability to generate narrative insights that are basically meaningful aspects, only in natural language.
If you'd like your data organized further, you can add it to bins or groups or even highlight it conditionally with color. In some visualizations, you can also add labels so the data values and items are more visually distinct.
To get you started on your marketing analytics journey, Cognos offers you access to Explore, which is a flexible workplace for data discovery and analysis. As we already mentioned, Cognos has AI integrated into the platform, which means all your data preparation and cleaning is automatic - a feature rarely seen in similar tools.
You can start an exploration from an existing dashboard or right from scratch. Within Cognos Analytics, content folders can be created for uploading and managing data assets. Once your data source is ready, you can start exploring it for hidden patterns and insights. Thanks to the power of AI, you can ask the tool for specific insights in plain English and get plain answers in return. Another thing worth mentioning here is that Explore has limited support for certain data source types., so you might want to check that before getting started.
IBM Cognos Analytics boasts excellent capabilities to automatically model time-dependent data. This automated process makes forecasting easier, particularly for users who don't know time-series modeling.
You can see these forecasts in visualizations. And if prefer, you can also view the statistical details for the selected or generated model. If you want to specify time series outside of Cognos, you need to manipulate data first. However, this platform makes the process automated, which is time-saving and cost-effective. Cognos does reserve the flexibility for users to examine each time series individually and customize the forecast and results to their taste.
It is easy for people not quite familiar with data analytics to feel overwhelmed with the process. But thankfully, Cognos handles it exceptionally well with most of the analysis process being run by AI. While this self-service capability can accelerate decision-making, many esteemed organizations have their own dedicated teams and prefer advanced analytics - for which Cognos is also perfect.
When it comes to advanced analysis, this tool can perform tasks like predictive modeling, machine learning, and what-if analysis.
Cognos Analytics offers a robust reporting engine that enables users to create highly customizable reports. These reports can include tables, charts, graphs, and other visualizations to present data in a meaningful way. You can view, execute, and edit them later as well.
Reporting within Cognos supports multiple formats and languages. A fascinating feature is report scheduling, allowing you to automatically run reports at regular intervals. You can even subscribe to a report for it to be delivered automatically to you, with notifications enabled.
Sharing and Collaboration
Cognos Analytics encourages collaboration among team members through features like commenting, annotations, and the ability to share reports and dashboards with colleagues. For someone to be able to work on your dashboard, you can simply send them a Slack link and they are good to go.
Pros and Cons
Multiple cloud deployment options
Integration with other IBM and third-party tools
Limited support for some data types
IBM offers 3 pricing plans based on the deployment options - Cognos Analytics on Cloud On-Demand ($10/user/month), Cognos Analytics on Cloud Hosted (custom price), and Cognos Analytics software (custom price).
For those who would like to play around with the platform free of cost, there is a 30-day free trial. And hey, you can also save up to 30% with an annual subscription.
So, what is the verdict? Well, IBM Cognos Analytics is a powerful piece of software that comes laden with top-notch features. It serves both types of businesses - those seeking quick, effortless insights and those requiring precise, advanced analytics. If you have a small team, it should not cost you much.
But if you are still hesitant to pay, we recommend you try your hands on the free trial. Ensure to check if your data source type is fully supported by the Cognos platform though.