Q&A With Cognos VP Don Campbell - InformationWeek

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7/28/2004
03:15 PM
Ted Kemp
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Q&A With Cognos VP Don Campbell

Cognos talks about performance management's challenges, and how Cognos hopes to fit in a market where customers increasingly consolidate on fewer BI tools.

Business Intelligence Pipeline: Let's talk more generally about BI. Lots of enterprise users say they want to consolidate the number of reporting tools they use. Is that something Cognos is seeing more often?

Campbell: Strategic relationships with fewer suppliers is what people are looking for, definitely. That includes the number of tools companies use. And there are a number of drivers here. One is the training element. If you can deliver acceptable value to a broader range of user roles, with a smaller number of products, then you don't have to train on 50 different products. There's a cost element too, of course. As you standardize, costs normally go down because you get volume discounts and things like that. Then there's certainly an element that involves the relationship it takes to make an implementation successful. We're talking about tools that are very strategic to the performance of a company. They're not the kind of things you can just buy off the shelf at your computer store. It's inappropriate for us to just sell customers software and not help them through its implementation. You’ve got to have a relationship with these customers, and they can't handle relationships with 50 different vendors.

You put these software features together, and there's a breadth of functionality they supply. The more consistency there is to the technology, the easier it is to implement internally and the more functionality that will be exposed. There's never going to be a case where Vendor A's technology talks better to Vendor B's technology than it talks to another product from Vendor A. There's an ease of communications within that product suite itself that's enabled by standardizing on a single vendor's product. We've seen standardization as a hot agenda topic for lots of CIOs. It's certainly something we educate people on, because we want customers to understand where Cognos fits within a standardization agenda.

Business Intelligence Pipeline: Your rival Business Objects has recently touted itself as the best BI vendor for standardization. What's your response? Where are Cognos' strengths for companies that want to standardize on a single suite of tools?

Campbell: To be fair, you would probably get different answers on this question from different people within Cognos. But let me talk from a technology standpoint. The architecture we have built for our current set of products, which came out with our ReportNet reporting environment, was built over several years, and from the ground up, to be open. It's a service-oriented architecture, which makes it one of the first in our industry to adopt that. From an architectural standpoint, our Web services, service-oriented approach lets us put our systems in place at enterprises that have myriad technologies they're going to need to integrate with us. Taking the high road, I'm not going to tell you there's bad technology at Business Objects. But of course, they are putting together a couple of different architectures and technologies from recent acquisitions, et cetera. While they were doing that, we were actually building the next level. If I'm talking to a CIO and I'm explaining what my technology offers, I would say it offers an opportunity to integrate with more technology choices today. And it allows faster adoption of technology and better integration for tomorrow.

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