Business Intelligence Solutions: Microsoft Power BI vs IBM Cognos

Microsoft Power BIModern Business Intelligence (BI) solutions can be a very powerful game-changer for companies that embrace a culture of Analytics, however, navigating this newer tech can sometimes be overwhelming. How do the different tools compare to one another? Is this BI tool the right one for your business needs and goals? Does the underlying technology integrate with the modern workplace and scale appropriately across the Enterprise? We’ve written this blog to discuss and compare two popular business intelligence solutions to help you obtain the information you need to make a more informed decision.

Evaluating two BI tools against each other is not easy, especially when there are so many options on the market offering unique features and benefits. While we are a Microsoft partner, we also have many years of development experience with all major BI tool sets. That said, in this blog, we have chosen to compare Microsoft’s Power BI against IBM Cognos, to explore features such as customizable dashboards, projection and forecasting, usability, and unique features.

IBM Cognos

Overview

IBM Cognos Analytics provides businesses with an intelligent and intuitive self-service that guides them in developing insights from data for effective presentation. Cognos ensures that you meet all your organization’s Analytics requirements in one integrated solution that is deployed on premise or in cloud. With an interactive and intuitive web experience, users can add their personal touch to the content and make dashboards from anywhere, anytime.

Pros:

  • Simple, intuitive interface
  • Smart search works in context
  • Personalized experience
  • Scheduling and alerts
  • Interactive content available online or offline
  • Use of varied data sources

Cons:

  • Minimal forecast capability
  • Doesn’t work smoothly with huge data sets and many parameters
  • Filtering in reports and scheduling set up is complex
  • Cross browser compatibility can be an issue
  • Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is bigger than other BI tools
  • IBM’s Investment in Cognos R&D is waning as evidenced by IBM’s current position in Gartner’s Lower Right quadrant

Microsoft Power BI

Overview

Microsoft Power BI is a suite of business analytics tools crafted to help organizations efficiently examine information and share insights. Power BI transforms organization’s data into attractive and easy-to-understand visuals, making it simple for you and your team to gather information, and develop effective business strategies. The goal of the platform is to keep its user aware of everything, distinguish trends as they happen, and steer your business toward success. The platform allows users to track their business and derive performance indicators quickly and efficiently from comprehensive dashboards which can be viewed on all types of devices.

Pros:

  • Highly customizable dashboards and huge datasets
  • Drag and Drop features
  • Ad hoc reporting and analysis
  • Extensive charting
  • Trend indicators and Forecast predictions
  • Complete reporting & data visualization tools
  • Excellent API support
  • Less expensive than majority of other BI tools
  • Embedded Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics capabilities
  • Real-Time Multi-Mode Alerting based on user-defined thresholds
  • Microsoft is heavily investing in this tool

Cons:

  • Need to use live connection for handling huge data sets
  • Excel users will understand Power BI the most
  • Sharing is not intuitive and being improved on
  • Cannot create a new dashboard on mobile app view

The platform your business ultimately selects is going to depend heavily on your future vision, strategy and the users’ needs. Before any business intelligence solution selection happens, we recommend defining those objectives. With a well thought out plan, you can determine which platform will help you execute all the layers of your plan, along with a timeline for your goals.

If you would like to talk to a business analytics expert or receive a free Power BI demo, contact us. We’d be happy to chat about your company’s needs.

Author: David Bence, Managing Director of Business Analytics

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