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An Industry Perspective - Performance Management

This industry perspective is intended to outline the background to the development of budgeting and forecasting tools and illustrate why the IBM Cognos solution is best placed to meet the needs of organisations both now and into the future
 

In the past few years there has been considerable consolidation in the software industry around the area known as corporate performance management.  In practical terms this means the different types of application used to consolidate company accounts, produce budgets and forecasts, provide financial analytics and report on company data.

 

Historically there has been a divide between reporting on operational data – business intelligence, and the more financially focused applications designed for consolidation, budgeting and forecasting.  If you look into the specifics of the consolidation and planning applications market there has also been a divide between vendors of best of breed approaches – consolidation applications just for consolidation and planning applications just for planning – and the vendors of all in one solutions.  The other stream to consider is that of the ERP vendors who have tried to develop these specific functional areas within their core offerings.

 

The IBM Cognos perspective was developed early on before the current wave of mergers commenced.  As a market leader in the field of reporting the company recognised that organisations needed a single platform from which to plan, forecast and report.  It was the first vendor to develop a true corporate performance management system.  This involved the acquisition of Adaytum for planning and Frango for consolidation.  Rather than maintain many different reporting interfaces it decided to integrate these financial analytic applications with its business intelligence reporting tools, which in turn had been redeveloped as a single integrated application suite from the ground up.

 

The result in the IBM Cognos 8 product series is a web based, services orientated architecture that is common across the whole product platform that can give a seamless integrated solution.  As the solution is made up of components that can operate independently, the components can be implemented individually for specific purposes and then extended in steps to give an enterprise wide performance management solution.

 

The approach of IBM Cognos has to be contrasted with other vendors such as Hyperion, Business Objects and Infor (Comshare MPC) who have not built an integrated product architecture from the ground up but attempted to combine various acquired applications with a common look and fell!  This may give an end user the feel of integration but the underlying technology still uses different query engines and meta data models in different components.  In the case of the ERP vendors such as Oracle and SAP, these acquired products are also required to now integrate or interoperate with the specific ERP vendor’s original applications.

 

What is perhaps of more significance is that the ERP vendors, namely Oracle and SAP, who for many years had insisted that their own financial analytic applications would match or exceed those of best of breed vendors, ultimately had to admit that these vendors were superior and their own offerings not of sufficient calibre as previously promised.  Oracle acquired Hyperion and SAP Business Objects – who in turn had acquired many other second tier financial analytic vendors. These acquisitions only served to vindicate the Cognos strategy now strengthened by the ownership of IBM that makes it the only independent performance management vendor.  This is especially significant in the area of consolidation where organisations typically need to consolidate data across many different ERP and GL solutions.  It should also be noted that most organisations with an SAP or Oracle ERP strategy will still have a number of operational systems outside these core offerings whose data needs to be integrated into a performance management system.

 

Budgeting Solutions, as an IBM Cognos accredited partner have brought their experience from the financial analytics world (Adaytum and Frango) together with the Cognos 8 business intelligence platform to deliver performance management solutions to numerous organisations across all industry sectors.  As such the partnership of Budgeting Solutons deep domain implementation experience and the strength of the IBM Cognos organisation in performance management software solutions gives organisations the best and most resilient approach to delivering on their requirements and achieving project success.