• March 7, 2006
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

IBM and Cognos Cuddle Up a Little Closer

Cognos and IBM announced today an expansion of their business process integration relationship. The new strategic alliance includes joint development and delivery of SOA-based analytics tools. Cognos is now one of only approximately a dozen IBM partners to work at this level with the company. Under terms of the partnership, IBM will increase its consulting capabilities in regard to Cognos products. Cognos will further enhance its BI products for use with IBM hardware, software, and services, and will deliver IBM WebSphere and Information Management as part of the preferred reference architecture for Cognos 8 Special Edition BI engine. In addition, Cognos and IBM will develop new offerings for specific verticals, including insurance and the public sector. The two companies will continue to optimize the performance of Cognos tools on IBM middleware. "With this alliance, our organizations will be more tightly aligned and in an optimal position to help our customers succeed with their BI and performance management initiatives," said Cognos president and CEO Rob Ashe in a written statement. Mark Hanny, vice president of strategic alliances for IBM, echoed the sentiment. "Combining Cognos' industry-leading applications with IBM's open technology and services expertise will help organizations increase efficiencies and gain a faster return on their investment." Industry analysts believe the move is wise and will be valuable for both entities. "Customers [in this space] want to buy large sets of products that integrate well together," says John Hagerty, vice president of AMR Research. "Pundits have suggested for some time that IBM needed more presence in BI and analytics, so this is a step in the right direction." Competitively speaking, Cognos is likely to benefit most from the closer association. "Now that [Cognos has been] promoted, IBM is putting more skin in the game, working more closely with Cognos than with most of the other partners," Hagerty says. "IBM's competitors are not likely to be worried about this, but Cognos' rivals have been one-upped and will need to find some way to respond." While the expanded partnership will certainly be important for the two companies and their customers, one of the more interesting parts of the announcement is the nature of the agreement, according to Hagerty. "There has been speculation for some time whether BI companies were the next hot properties for acquisition," Hagerty says. "IBM is putting its arm more closely around Cognos, but is sending the message that it's not seeking to acquire." Related articles: Gartner Releases Its BI Magic Quadrant
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