IBM Unveils Midrange BI Tools

IBM last week announced a business intelligence and planning software suite for midsize companies that aren't ready for complex enterprise-level systems but need more insight into their businesses than a spreadsheet can provide.

The new Cognos Express system includes three modules. It's managed through a Web-based console that reduces user dependence on IT, according to IBM.

Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill Inc., a California restaurant chain, installed Cognos Express about three weeks ago to gain better insight into its finances during these bleak economic times, said Mark Quandt, the company's vice president of finance.

The company had been using Microsoft Corp.'s Excel spreadsheet for financial tasks. "Excel is a great personal tool... [but] with 13 restaurants, we got to a point where we wanted to get a little more sophisticated in our analysis," Quandt said.

Wood Ranch doesn't anticipate having to add IT resources to support the IBM BI tool, which employs an Excel-like interface, he added.

The Wood Ranch installation could mark the start of a trend, according to Tim Harmon, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., who projects that midmarket companies will invest heavily in BI as the economy improves and IT budgets rebound.

Cognos Express pricing starts at $12,000.

This version of this story originally appeared in Computerworld's print edition.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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