Cognos Series 7 BI is aiming at users outside of the business analyst realm — and that’s exactly the way it should be, an IDC Canada analyst says.

Cognos will announceVersion 2 of its Series 7 enterprise business intelligence software

Tuesday. Released a year after the original Series 7 BI solution entered the market, Version 2 will supports all major operating system and and third party online analytical processing (OLAP) sources. But the big news is its instant projection capability, says director of product marketing Michael Branchaud.

The solution allows users to do trend analysis and linear trend projections in inventory and human resources, he says, as well as financials. It can also perform a growth forecast which handles exponential data while forecasting based on seasonal data such as sales figures.

“”Up to now, business intelligence has been a largely reactive, rear-view mirror type of analysis tool,”” Branchaud says. “”We want to move that reactive mode of business intelligence into a proactive model.””

The ability to forecast trends was a functionality added to the release because of customer suggestions, says Cognos product marketing manager Anil Dilawri. And the goal for this release is to improve user experience.

All of the solution’s capabilities are now available through a browser and can be accessed without any need for downloads or plug-ins. This capability is meant to allow enterprises to extend the BI software to partners and employees outside of its physical environment, Branchaud says.

This would be useful, for example, in a “”a supply chain setup, where maybe an auto parts manufacturer is hooked into the auto maker and the auto parts maker wants to do real time inventory management,”” Branchaud says. “”BI is becoming a tool that very much facilitates that ability to share information on a real-time basis and allows the downstream organizations to take action on that.””

Branchaud says customers reported the installment process was cumbersome and they were hearing complaints from their IT departments, which is why Version 2 will not require a Windows client.

Cognos needs to turn its product into a tool for the masse if it is to survive indirect competition from enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors, many of whom are entering the market with products enriched with BI capabilities, says IDC Canada analyst Warren Shiau.

The entire BI software sector is aiming at users outside of the traditional business analyst, he says and in that sense Cognos is just recognizing a trend. The new user of BI software may not necessarily need the robust application that a business analyst does and that’s opening up the field to a lot of new competition, he says.

“”You have enterprise application vendors like Oracle, PeopleSoft putting a lot of analytics functionali

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