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"Business Intelligence provides organisations with the capability to present the large amounts
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
- COGNOS 8 BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE:ONE PRODUCT FOR BI
- FATAL FLAW NO. 1:
"If we build it, they will come."
- FATAL FLAW NO. 2:
"Managers need to ‘dance with the numbers."
- FATAL FLAW NO. 3:
"We don't have a data quality problem."
- FATAL FLAW NO. 4:
"Our business application vendor will deliver the best solution."
- FATAL FLAW NO. 5:
"Darwin was wrong: There's no need for BI applications to evolve."
- FATAL FLAW NO. 6:
"We can outsource the whole thing."
- FATAL FLAW NO. 7:
"Just give me a dashboard."
- APPENDIX: FURTHER READING
ABOUT THIS PAPER
In 2005, Gartner published a paper entitled "Avoid the
Five '‘Fatal Flaws of Business Intelligence and
Corporate Performance Management." The paper
describes Gartner's observations as to why business
intelligence (BI) initiatives fail or get off to a bad start.
The findings were based on Gartner's expertise
in the BI industry and research into real-world deployments.
This paper explains how the newest offering from
Cognos-Cognos 8 Business Intelligence-can help
organizations avoid these "Fatal Flaws." The Cognos
Views are not intended to be exhaustive; rather, they are
intended to act as an introduction to Cognos 8 BI and a
catalyst for further reading. The Appendix contains a
list of suggested Cognos White Papers that address the
Cognos 8 BI and its role in avoiding the "Fatal Flaws"
in more detail.
ABOUT THE SOURCE
Unless otherwise stated, all citations are from the document,
"Avoid the Five '‘Fatal Flaws of Business
Intelligence and Corporate Performance Management,"
by Bill Hostmann, Frank Buytendijk, and Ted
Friedman, Gartner, 2005.
You can access the Gartner paper here:
BI capabilities-reporting, analysis, ad hoc query, event
lifecycle management, and data integration-transform
vast amounts of data into relevant, targeted, and timely
information that business people rely on to make
decisions and manage performance.
Most organizations have some form of BI and most
CIOs are familiar with its benefits. Among these are:
- increased efficiency in information delivery at
- visibility into performance for greater agility; and,
- accurate, consistent information for better
Business intelligence (BI) initiatives present complex
challenges, says Gartner. When implemented correctly,
in conjunction with a well-executed strategy that is
aligned across business units, they offer insights that
can drive positive business changes. When BI initiatives
fail, says Gartner, they often result in elaborate, costly,
time-consuming implementations that no one uses.
Gartner says several factors have combined to make BI
a critical part of organizations' preparations for economic
improvement and a renewed focus on growth,
- The risks associated with failing to comply with
government regulations for reporting.
- The competitive disadvantage to late adopters as
BI becomes more widely used through various
- The pressure to maximize efficiency from current
COGNOS 8 BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE:
ONE PRODUCT FOR BI
In 2003, Cognos introduced new reporting software,
Cognos ReportNet, built on a Web Services architecture.
The open, modern architecture of Cognos
ReportNet was its key innovation, and key to its value
for both business users and IT. Cognos ReportNet
bridges the worlds of pixel-perfect production reporting
and highly flexible business reporting. It promises and
delivers a single product for all reporting requirements,
with simplified deployment, maintenance, and integration;
drag-and-drop ease of use; multilingual reporting;
and many other innovations.
Cognos ReportNet is phenomenally successful; it
addresses the pent-up demand among customers
looking for a single reporting product to meet all of
their reporting needs. Because of this, many organizations
have selected Cognos ReportNet as their reporting
The promise of such a future platform was appealing.
With a unifying architecture for all business intelligence
capabilities, an organization could choose one product
to bring together its previously separate capabilities of
reporting, analysis, dashboards, scorecarding, and
more. This single BI product would not only provide
more value for less resources, it would be an obvious
choice for business intelligence standardization.
Many technology companies claim this is what they
deliver. Typically, however, they are offering integrated
components that may share some services, or a common
portal in front of disparate products, or basic-level
interoperability among a mix and match of quite separate
products (often the result of various acquisitions).
In contrast, Cognos has fulfilled the promise. It is
offering one product with all BI capabilities, on a single,
This is Cognos 8 Business Intelligence.
Cognos 8 Business Intelligence takes the strength of the
ReportNet platform and delivers a single, Web Services
architecture for all business intelligence capabilities.
Cognos 8 Business Intelligence offers reporting, query,
and analysis; dashboards and scorecarding; event lifecycle
management; and the unifying power of centralized
metadata in one product, on a single, proven servicesoriented
architecture. Cognos 8 BI delivers all of these
capabilities through a 100 percent, zero-footprint Web
browser interface for all users.
Business intelligence should not limit people's choice of
how to access and interact with information in order to
make their best decisions.
The promise of business intelligence is all users accessing
all of their data, in any way they want, to understand
what is happening, why, and determine what
actions they should take to help the organization
This is the Cognos vision for business intelligence. This
vision is made possible with Cognos 8 BI-making BI
simple with complete capabilities delivered on a proven
FATAL FLAW NO. 1:
"IF WE BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME."
What if you built a data warehouse and no one used it?
This "fatal flaw" sees IT building a data warehouse in
advance of understanding business user needs and
without business user input. Having built the warehouse
to deliver crucial business data, IT believes its
value will be self-evident and that users will flock to it
for the information they need.
Unfortunately, says Gartner, this hasn't happened yet.
Though IT's efforts spring from the best of intentions,
the data warehouse fails to attract users or generate
ROI. There are many reasons: it may have a complex
user interface; it may present data in a way that is unfamiliar
to business users; or it may not offer the appropriate
capabilities-all flaws that stem from acting in
advance of understanding the needs of business users.
The Gartner Cure
- A successful initiative combines business relevance
with strong architecture.
- Pose these questions: Is the data garnered appropriate
for business users? It is correct and precise?
Are answers and insights available when needed?
- Establish a BI Competency Center (BICC) to drive
adoption of BI in the business, as well as to gather
the business, technology and communication skills
required for successful BI initiatives.
The Cognos View
Most BI software targets the professional author, or
"power user." This group accounts for a mere five percent
of the employees in a typical organization. For BI to be a
catalyst for better performance, organizations must
engage the remaining 90 percent. This is a diverse group
that includes casual business users, managers, and executives.
All of these users need to make decisions. However,
the rich functionality and interactivity provided by most
BI applications often proves overwhelming.
Most casual users need little of this interactivity. Instead,
they need easy access to regularly distributed reports and
other BI content. Rather than force casual users to struggle
with complex data hierarchies, BI should use simple
business terms and present information clearly. This
helps users understand what is happening within their
sphere of responsibility and make the right decisions.
Business managers have a wider range of responsibilities
that demand a wider range of capabilities: reports
that provide drill-through to detail and context; basic
reporting, and occasional ad hoc queries and analysis.
Executives need an at-a-glance awareness of organizational
performance; drill-through to regular updates
and status reports, and secure access to BI across a wide
range of devices.
BI deployments must target the 90
percent of business users who are
currently under-served by most
Cognos 8 Business Intelligence provides a single BI environment
that can address all of these user needs. Casual
business receive regularly scheduled and pre-formatted
reports that provide only the information they need and
present it in their working language. Business managers
can author basic reports and queries using drag-anddrop
functionality. Executives can view interactive
dashboards and scorecards and subscribe to alerts that
notify them of key events.
Serving all users from a single product helps an organization
increase its alignment with strategy and coordinate
its response to changing business conditions
for better results. People are aware of events as they are
happening and can take the appropriate actions.
As a BI standard, Cognos 8 BI acts as a central source
of consistent information for the entire organization.
Consistent information leads to people collaborating
more effectively and making decisions with more
FATAL FLAW NO. 2:
"MANAGERS NEED TO '‘DANCE WITH THE NUMBERS."
The advent of the browser-based interface has made business
intelligence applications increasingly easy for people
outside of IT to understand and use. However, many business
users still favor spreadsheets over BI. To some extent
this is understandable: spreadsheets are everywhere and
easy to use. Yet there are risks involved in using them as
BI applications or for planning and budgeting.
No manager is an island; and such "dancing with the
numbers" inevitably causes problems further up in the
organization. Making "tweaks" to calculations or definitions-
however minor or well-intentioned-costs time
elsewhere when results are consolidated into quarterly
reports. Conflicting information leads to people making
poor decisions or acting contrary to strategic goals. More
seriously, organizations that operate with multiple versions
of the truth risk violating Sarbanes-Oxley and other
The Gartner Cure
- Use compliance regulations, such as the Sarbanes-
Oxley Act, as an opportunity to educate business
users about the risks posed by the widespread use
of spreadsheets, proliferating data silos and
unclear ownership of performance data.
- Remind users that "multiple versions of the truth"
could open up the company to charges of data
manipulation, information hoarding and data filtering.
- Forbid the use of spreadsheets for formal reporting
and management meetings.
The Cognos View
Spreadsheets are inherently uncontrollable. They offer
no reliable audit trail and lack both referential integrity
and data integrity. Inadequate security features rarely
restrict unauthorized access. Use of them encourages
"islands of information," which undermines the promise
of business intelligence. However, the demands of compliance
can help an organization realize that promise.
Innovative Finance professionals
see SOX compliance as a catalyst
to modernize inefficient processes.
Research commissioned by Cognos shows that many
forward-looking Finance professionals see SOX compliance
as a catalyst to improve its partnership with IT.
Through smart investments, organizations can expose,
update, and modernize long-established but inefficient
Now is the opportunity for real change. Before
Sarbanes-Oxley, it was hard to find the economic justification
for making these changes. To regain efficiency lost
in an environment with more formal controls, organizations
must not just automate inefficient processes, but
overhaul them instead. Failure to do so is more than
simply inefficient. It represents a control risk to organizations
if its compliance efforts are overwhelmed with so
many controls to account for bad processes.
Cognos 8 Business Intelligence integrates with Cognos
Planning, a complete and purpose-built solution for
planning, budgeting, and forecasting. Rather than force
organizations to manage compliance and performance
systems separately, Cognos provides the opportunity to
manage both systems using a single and fully integrated
approach. This lets organizations establish a unified
view of both their compliance and performance
processes and establish greater control over all of the
underlying data. Finance gains the added advantage of
using full BI capabilities against planning and budgeting
data to identify opportunities and analyze trends. A
single, purpose-built solution is also easier to use, which
encourages people to abandon spreadsheets or use them
to solve problems that they weren't designed to solve.
FATAL FLAW NO. 3:
"WE DON'T HAVE A DATA QUALITY PROBLEM."
Bad decisions, made in isolation, are not likely to bring
a company down. Bad decisions, made at key points in
a business process, every day, however, are a serious
problem. The former may bring about acute, short-term
pain. The latter, however, erodes corporate performance
as the effects of one bad decision are compounded over
and over as they cross departments or move further up
BI must draw on accurate data. Otherwise the adage
remains: "Garbage in, garbage out." If an enterprise BI
application is built on the wrong data, or on out-of-date
or incomplete data, the value of the system is compromised
long before information reaches the business user.
The demands of compliance have led organizations to
pay closer attention to their data quality. However, few
IT departments treat data quality as an ongoing concern
that must be addressed in a systemic way.
The Gartner Cure
- Business leaders must be made aware of the unexpected
and sometimes disastrous effects that poor
data quality can have on business results and key
- Establish a data quality "firewall"... to recognize
data quality issues in incoming data and block
low-quality data from entering your data warehouse.
- Implement a process at the back end for auditing
and verifying the data.
The Cognos View
The solution to disparate data sources is to standardize
business intelligence on a solution that supports an
open data strategy and that uses a common metadata
model. The foundation for BI standardization is data
integration. While the drivers and sources of data have
changed rapidly, one thing remains constant: getting the
data right, and making sure that the right data assets are
Cognos 8 Business Intelligence provides access to heterogeneous
data and data integration through direct
access, Enterprise Information Integration (EII), and
Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) capabilities. It also
provides a common metadata model that ensures consistent
business rules, dimensions, and calculations
across all sources and all BI capabilities. Together, these
features provide IT with the tools they need to
ensure data integrity across user groups, BI capabilities,
or geographic locations.
The solution to disparate data
sources is standardized BI that
supports an open data strategy and
uses a common metadata model.
Cognos 8 BI also enables a modular deployment, which
lets IT avoid an "all-at-once" deployment that
inevitably compromises data quality. IT can deploy
Cognos 8 BI in stages and create feedback loops for
users. This ensures data is accurate and consistent at
every stage. A phased approach means IT can address
data quality issues at the source, in a manageable way,
before the information is delivered to end users.
FATAL FLAW NO. 4:
"OUR BUSINESS APPLICATION VENDOR WILL DELIVER THE BEST SOLUTION."
Purchasing an ERP, SCM, or other enterprise application
is one of the most significant investments that IT
can make. It represents a capital expenditure in the tens
of millions; it requires extensive due diligence on the
part of the CIO; it requires executive sign-off; it takes
years to implement and demands dedicated resources to
maintain. And it must deliver a return.
Once such a purchase has been made, it is understandable
that nobody wants to say that this multi-year,
multi-million-dollar investment isn't going to give the
organization everything it needs. Yet believing so is a
common "fatal flaw" of BI.
The Gartner Cure
- Promote an understanding of what functions aren't
delivered by ERP systems. Compare the functions
included in the enterprise application's BI tools
with tools offered by the leading vendors in the BI
The Cognos View
Most enterprise applications do provide some bundled
BI capabilities. However, they are usually hard-wired to
the vendor's proprietary data and deployments are
limited to a few power users who understand the
complex interfaces. This restricts business users to
limited and inflexible views of business performance
through a limited set of "canned reports." This is a
problem, because most business processes-supply
chain, for example-involve a variety of applications
that collect data using their own proprietary metadata
models. To understand and manage performance, business
users need to access all of this data and the ability
to combine or analyze it in different ways.
BI must provide users with
visibility across an entire business
process, not limit them to a
particular slice of the data.
Cognos 8 BI meets these needs in three ways: by integrating
disparate, heterogeneous data into a single
source of consistent information; by supplying a
common metadata model that applies consistent rules,
dimensions, and calculations to all data; and by providing
the complete range of BI capabilities to report on
and analyze it.
For users, this means the freedom and flexibility to
move through data and capabilities in any way they
need or want to, and the confidence that comes from
knowing that definitions and calculations are consistent
across data sources. Rather than be forced to work with
a limited or partial view of information, users can view
the performance of a process from start to finish and
drill through reports and analysis at any point to
analyze the factors that affect the outcomes. Cognos 8
BI automatically carries context forward throughout
the process to ensure accurate results that drive better
FATAL FLAW NO. 5:
"DARWIN WAS WRONG: THERE'S NO NEED FOR BI APPLICATIONS TO EVOLVE."
Until now, the typical BI deployment has been to provide
a specific capability at the departmental level. Most of
these deployments have been successful. However, many
of the older applications that supported them are now
straining under the weight of a growing user base, more
complex IT infrastructures, and the demand for greater
collaboration across business functions.
IT is also feeling the pressure - not only to maintain
existing BI applications built on older architectures -
but also to keep new initiatives "short and sweet" for a
quick ROI. This means most BI projects are deployed in
a disconnected fashion to meet immediate needs. The
longer IT continues with this approach, the more problems
they will encounter in the future.
First, the cost. While an isolated BI project may save
money in the short term, the efforts needed to maintain
a raft of isolated deployments and applications can
erase these savings over the long term. Second, the difficulty
of supporting and integrating a collection of BI
applications from multiple vendors as business conditions
and user needs evolve. Third, the poor decisions
and duplicated efforts that result from fragmented
The Gartner Cure
- Departmental managers and IT staff should work
together to stamp out redundant BI tools. Stop the
proliferation of new tools by enforcing standardization
for tools before they are deployed.
- Define a review/feedback process for ensuring that
the BI strategy, investments and skills stay aligned
with the overall vision and architecture, as well as
The Cognos View
First, IT needs to put an end to isolated, or "renegade"
BI projects in favor of a company-wide BI standard.
This can be accomplished through a BI Competency
Center, or BICC. As a centralized body of BI knowledge
and expertise, a BICC can enforce a consistent set of BI
strategies, tools, standards, and approaches across an
Second, IT needs to plan its BI strategy for the entire
organization to meet both current and long-term needs.
As BI users become more numerous and more sophisticated,
their BI environment must keep pace. Today's
users may simply need reports. Tomorrow, however,
they may need to view reports in the context of a scorecard.
Executives using dashboards may want to receive
alerts. Power users in one location may need access to
more data to compare performance in their area against
that in other offices.
As BI users become more numerous
and more sophisticated, their BI
environment must keep pace to
continually meet their needs.
Cognos 8 BI can meet immediate needs and has room to
grow. It provides complete BI capabilities out of the
box, with the added flexibility of modular deployment.
IT can provide a BI environment that meets current
needs, and activate new capabilities at any time down
the road as user needs and business conditions change.
Plug-and-play capabilities mean IT can do all of this
without deploying and managing additional software.
Complete capabilities and modular deployment means
IT can map out a long-term BI strategy that is aligned
with and supports strategic goals. Deploying these
capabilities from a single solution increases the value of
the BI environment because it helps more and more
people share and act on consistent information. With
Cognos 8 BI, the entire organization can "work
FATAL FLAW NO. 6:
"WE CAN OUTSOURCE THE WHOLE THING."
Would an organization outsource its strategy? The
question may sound foolish at first. But for executives
looking to cut costs quickly, the range of processes that
can be done by someone else and the resulting cost
savings make outsourcing an increasingly attractive
option. And organizations that view their BI as tactical -
or simply too complex to be managed internally -
may be tempted to let someone else do the job.
But there are risks in outsourcing BI. As it becomes
more widely used, the cost savings an organization
gains in outsourcing its BI may well be eclipsed by the
agility, efficiency, and competitive advantage demonstrated
by organizations that view BI as a core competency.
The Gartner Cure
- Remember the "golden rule" of outsourcing:
Outsource only those things that are not a core
competency or core business. Business strategy formulation
and feedback on its results must be a core
The Cognos View
The question is not whether or not to outsource, but
rather, what functions should a company outsource? A
"flawless" BI environment is the expression of a corporate
strategy and the foundation of a performance management
system. A pervasive system of interconnected
metrics, reports, analysis, and alerts lets everyone in an
organization see what it is trying to achieve, understand
how it will achieve it, and know what every employee
needs to focus on and do to make the strategy work. BI
helps organizations avoid last-minute surprises - a
capability that no high-performance organization
should leave to someone else.
Cognos is putting this principle into practice using its
software. Through the company's CPM@Cognos initiative,
employees have access to the corporate strategy
map and scorecards that reveal performance against
high-level metrics. Toward the end of each quarter,
CEO Rob Ashe reviews can pipeline numbers in 15-
These capabilities provide Cognos executives with
strategic information that often leads to direct and
coordinated action. For example: the ability to monitor
sales performance as it unfolds lets Cognos provide the
investment community with reliable and predictable
information. It can deploy extra resources where they're
needed to ensure performance targets are met.
BI helps organizations avoid lastminute
surprises - a capability that
no high-performance organization
should leave to someone else.
FATAL FLAW NO. 7:
"JUST GIVE ME A DASHBOARD."
Time-strapped executives and business managers are in
constant need of quick and simple reports on corporate
performance. Dashboards often win out over scorecards
in the executive ranks because of the perception that a
Balanced Scorecard implementation takes too long and
is too complex to manage.
Dashboards are indeed attractive because they provide
an at-a-glance view of performance across any number
of key areas. People can see and act when performance
is in the red. As a mechanism for managing performance,
however, dashboards are of little value unless a)
they reflect the actual drivers of business performance;
b) they allow drill-through to the underlying data for
further analysis; and c) the insights gained can be fed
back into these dashboards and acted on in a closedloop
manner. These are the hallmarks of a performance
The Gartner Cure
- If you have already implemented a solid data warehouse
infrastructure, then a performance dashboard
or complex scorecard is easier to create.
- Ensure that management uses a strategy map in
conjunction with its scorecard or dashboard. A
strategy map is a cause-and-effect diagram
between the objectives - or performance indicators
at a more detailed level - in a scorecard. If such
mapping isn't completed, the scorecard offers little
more than a collection of unrelated metrics.
The Cognos View
Ownership, accountability, consistency, and collaboration
are some of the key attributes of an effective performance
management system. Organizations cannot
achieve this if their dashboards and scorecards are not
connected to the underlying performance data.
Organizations need a performance management environment
that provides everyone - from executives to
front-line employees - with consistent information
tailored for their specific responsibilities. An effective
performance management system is also one in which
definitions, targets, and thresholds are commonly
shared and understood by everyone.
Organizations can create this system with Cognos 8
Business Intelligence. Its complete BI capabilities let
organizations build high-level dashboards and scorecards
with the vital connections to the underlying data.
IT can create strategy maps that define strategic objectives
and illustrate how key processes link, and then
place metrics directly on top of them. People at any level
of the organization gain a clear understanding of where
performance is on-target and where corrective actions
are needed. Each metric has an assigned owner to
ensure that poor performance is not overlooked or does
not go unaddressed. Guided analysis features place
metrics in their proper context and lead users to the
answers more quickly.
Dashboards and scorecards must be
connected to the underlying
performance data and share
consistently defined targets.
Cognos 8 BI is a single product with complete BI capabilities.
Users can directly access and analyze the underlying
data to understand why performance is off-target.
Embedded initiative tracking features help people
inform or collaborate with others on a solution, or
make the right decision on their own.
Cognos 8 BI can act as a single source of performance
information. Executives can deploy dashboards, scorecards,
strategy maps, and any related information consistently,
across the organization to ensure people work
from the same definitions and to the same targets.
Organizations are beset on all sides by a complex interplay
of internal and external forces: the need for agility;
the drive for efficiency; the demand for compliance, the
complexity of IT infrastructures, and competitive pressures.
On their own, each of these can negatively affect
performance if the people responding to them lack the
right information. Taken together, these factors demand
of organizations a coherent, coordinated response that
supports strategic business goals.
Organizations have responded to many of these forces
with BI solutions at the departmental level. To a large
extent they have been successful. BI has delivered better
information at a lower cost; delivered insights into the
factors that drive performance, and enabled better
overall better business decisions. These benefits have
been proven in numerous case studies and success
With Cognos 8 Business Intelligence, however, organizations
have the opportunity to extend these benefits
across their entire organization and elevate the benefits
to a new order of business performance. With Cognos 8
Business Intelligence, organizations can experience
"flawless" BI that delivers consistent information that is
the foundation of a performance management system.
Now is the opportunity for powerful change. A BI solution
with neither limitation nor imitation, Cognos 8
Business Intelligence delivers on the full promise of BI:
Simple: One product. One modern architecture. Open
Complete: All BI capabilities. For all users. From all
systems and data.
Proven: Proven technology. From the acknowledged
innovator and market leader.
Cognos is the world leader in business intelligence and
enterprise planning software. Our solutions for corporate
performance management let organizations drive
performance with planning, budgeting and consolidation,
monitor it with alerts and scorecarding, and
understand it with business intelligence reporting and
analysis. Cognos is the only vendor to support all of
these key management activities in a complete, integrated
solution. Founded in 1969, Cognos now serves
more than 23,000 customers in over 135 countries.
For further reading on the Cognos Cures to Gartner's
"Fatal Flaws," please read the Cognos White Papers
These White Papers are available to download free of
charge at www.cognos.com
Fatal Flaw No. 1: "If we build it, they will come."
Read: The Full Promise of Business Intelligence
Fatal Flaw No. 2: "Managers need to '‘dance with the
Read: Consolidation: Laying the Groundwork for
Fatal Flaw No. 3: "We don't have a data quality
Read: The Importance of Open Data
Fatal Flaw No. 4: "Our business application vendor
will deliver the best solution."
Read: The Full Promise of Business Intelligence
Fatal Flaw No. 5: "Darwin was wrong: There's no
need for BI applications to evolve."
Read: Architecture: The Foundation of Effective
Fatal Flaw No. 6: "We can outsource the whole
Read: The Evolution of the CPM System
Fatal Flaw No. 7: "Just give me a dashboard."
Read: Monitor. Manage. Perform: Scorecarding with
Cognos 8 Business Intelligence
For more information on Cognos 8 Business Intelligence,
take a tour of our interactive online demo at