Next version of Cognos to 'embed' SPSS, add social networking

But next 'major' release won't include a cloud-based service

Editor's note: Due to a clarification from IBM regarding the name of the next version of Cognos software, the headline and some text have been changed since the story was posted.

The next major release of IBM's flagship business intelligence platform, Cognos, will add social networking features, "embed" predictive analytics features from SPSS Inc., but it won't include a service delivered via the public cloud, IBM said.

In an interview Tuesday, Rob Ashe, general manager of IBM's Business Intelligence and Performance Management division, said that IBM is "exploring opportunities to deliver a generalized BI service."

It's just research at this stage, what we could do in a public cloud environment," he said.

The current Cognos 8 was first released in September 2005. It has received four major updates, including two after the Ottawa, Ontario, company was acquired by IBM two years ago.

IBM hasn't decided on a name for the next major release, said a spokeswoman, though she added that "it will not be an 8.x upgrade." Ashe declined to disclose a target release date, but said it will include improvements in several areas:

  • Easing the import of data, especially unstructured data, into Cognos;
  • Social networking features to "allow workers to collaborate around analytics," Ashe said. This would involve technology from Lotus Connections that would "fit inside the Cognos environment," he said.
  • The "embedding" of features from another IBM acquisition, SPSS, into Cognos. For example, "someone inside Cognos will, with a click of a button, be able to apply an SPSS algorithm or statistical model to the same Cognos report. You won't have go to go outside of Cognos," Ashe said. SPSS will eventually be "integrated across the Cognos platform," he said, from Cognos' planning modules to the workforce performance solution.

Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Inc., said he is impressed by "the degree to which IBM is leveraging Cognos across multiple solutions." He rated Ashe's plan for integrating Cognos with SPSS "a significant first step in what should be a continuing process of integrating and enabling the common analysis of structured and unstructured information."

Ashe said no products have been cut due to the merger of SPSS with the former Cognos, which is run under Ashe's BI group.

On the cloud area, Ashe said that enterprises are already using Cognos in private cloud deployments. Independent software vendors that are IBM partners, such as Concur, are offering cloud-based services that use Cognos on the back end.

Offering Cognos as a general standalone BI service may not make sense, Ashe said.

"The data model differs from company to company, which is why you just can't put it into a multi-tenant environment," he said. It's "more likely" that IBM would build different versions of a Cognos service that would be tailored for specific industries, he said.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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