Cognos 8 BI or Oracle BI EE (Siebel Analytics) – not a difficult choice

Raymond de Vries 5

Last week I was invited by Cognos Netherlands to an Infoseminar Cognos 8 BI.
I know that Cognos 8 has been in the market since 2005 but I have never had the opportunity to work with or tryout version 8. The last version that I worked with was 7.3 and therefore I was interested to see what had all been improved. As I have just started using the Oracle BI EE (Siebel Analytics) set of products, I also found it a good opportunity to compare the two products.

By the end of the presentation I was very pleased with what I had seen as I realized that Oracle’s BI EE set of products were superior.
There were a lot of areas where things were similar in the way you used them e.g. creating reports with drag-and-dropping objects into report or onto dashboards but as a whole I found that Oracle BI EE products have a better look and have a logical work-flow e.g. first create all required “reports” in the Answers area and then drag-drop them into the Dashboards. They spent very little time demonstrating the Cognos Dashboard and what was shown was nowhere near that of BI EE Dashboards. The BI EE Dashboards have a more professional look to them. BI EE gives the users the ability to create there own personal Dashboards by dragging pre-created reports onto their Dashboard area, allowing users to decide for themselves which reports they want displayed in their dashboard.

Cognos Dashboard (this was the best image I could find on internet)

Oracle dashboard

Cognos has two methods of create reports, Cognos Query Studio and Report Studio. Differences begin that Report Studio has the ability to create more complex reports and according to Cognos, should only be used by trained personal with SQL knowledge. The demonstration of the tool highlighted its complexity and the requirement of SQL knowledge. Oracle BI EE also has two report creating tools, Answers for the basic reports and BI Publisher (previously XML Publisher) for the more complex pixel perfect type reports. The nice thing about BI Publisher is that you don’t need SQL knowledge to use it, of coarse if you want to create extremely complex queries, it’s also possible with direct queries to the database(s) but if you need to write SQL to retrieve your required data you should be asking yourself if you shouldn’t change you metadata layer instead. BI EE has the possibility to query the database tables direct but for security reasons this is by default disabled.


Before the presentation I was told that there would be a lot of SOA interaction demonstrated but the only SOA that was discussed was that a report could use WSDL to get info, such as a weather report for a particular city. I was hoping to see the ability of trigger business processes and also the ability to use the Cognos off-line, things that are possible in BI EE.  It was very evident that Cognos relies heavily on Microsoft products and is therefore not able to be used with open Office or other Linux based products.

Cognos 8 did have some things that I liked: they had a Google search page with which you could search for particular report. Another useful item was that you could place reports in Word, Excel and Power Point. If put in a Power Point presentation, each time you run that presentation it will display the latest report results.

Cognos also gave a short presentation of the Cognos Performance Management product which apparently is a product that competes with Hyperion. In the Netherlands, Cognos has had difficulty in getting the product into the market due to Hyperion’s strength but have started gaining market share in the past two years. Cognos sees the Hyperion takeover by Oracle as an opportunity to gain more clients, there reasoning being that Oracle will bundle Hyperion with other Oracle products and that current Hyperion customers don’t want to be forced to take other Oracle products when all they want is only the Hyperion product. We will have to wait to see how Oracle intends marketing the Hyperion product and see if it causes current Hyperion customers to change to other products.

Please realize that these are my opinions of the products and is based on my recent experimentation with Oracle BI EE products and the presentation given by Cognos Netherlands which I assume they would have demonstrated the best aspects of their product (even though their demo data did not always match up when drilling down).


5 thoughts on “Cognos 8 BI or Oracle BI EE (Siebel Analytics) – not a difficult choice

  1. Just a question – which do you rank better. Oracle BI EE with Oracle BI Analytics or Cognos with Prebuilt Analytics for Oracle ERP


  2. Just wanted to clear some points up:
    When you stated, “Report Studio has the ability to create more complex reports and according to Cognos, should only be used by trained personal with SQL knowledge.” – that is inaccurate. SQL knowledge is NOT a prerequisite to use Report Studio.
    Query Studio is a simpler user based authoring tool, than its more powerful brotherin, Report Studio.
    You did not mention any of the overlaying products OBIEE possesses. Oracle already had products in existence before it purchased Hyperion. There are many overlapping products and functionality with Oracle and its Hyperion acquired products.
    The front-end of the dashboards are nicer in appearance in Hyperion/Oracle than Cognos; however, with the latest release of Go! Dashboard, the disparate ‘professional’ appearance (aka Flash) dashboards is nullified.
    There is a very powerful and easy to use solution called Analysis Studio which enables simple, drill up/down/through capabilities. It can quickly rank (create nested ranks), filter top/bottom and do 3rd dimension filtering.
    Another Go! cohort item is Go! Mobile which enables one to view content created in Cognos no their Symbian, Windows Mobile and Blackberry devices.
    When discussing dashboards, it is important to understand what can be placed into the dashboard. Do separate reports need to be built specifically to be placed into a dashboard page? How simple is it to modify and refresh the dashboard?

    Just wanted to introduce some material the original author was not made aware of. It sounds like you got short-changed in the Cognos demo. Oracle offers a strong product, but it’s fair to look at both sides of a coin. I hope readers find this information useful. Cheers.

  3. I have question, do you know where is the metadata modelling done in OBIEE. I know in Cognos we use Framework Manager, but i dont know what it is called in OBIEE.

  4. Hi,

    It’s too bad you didn’t get the to see Metrics Studio, the product that really is designed for metrics and dashboards. The screen shot you used is from an older product, not Cognos 8. That said, Cognos recognized they had some work to do in the dashboard area when they recently purchased Celequest. From my perspective, the key question is ‘what is the user trying to accomplish with their dashboard?’ In most cases, the dashboard is just a specific presentation of a report and what is important is the drilling through the dashboard to begin an analytical ‘conversation with the data.’ This is the space that Cognos is very good at. We are watching Oracle BI closely and as they make their product strategy more coherent with their acquisitions, we will see how they do.

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