IBM is now offering its Cognos Express Planner business analytics program, which is sold almost entirely through its channel. Channel partners can help their SMB customers with business planning and management with this visualization-heavy software.
"While it is simplified from the enterprise software, it has some pretty robust capabilities on it," says Christopher Ferrara, managing partner at ISA Consulting. "A lot of companies who are looking at it are pretty low on the maturity curve in terms of business analytics, so for them the capabilities are pretty forward thinking." For startups and smaller companies, it's an out-of-the-box product that doesn't require an IT person to manage the functionalities.
The new release offers the same functionalities as the Cognos Express Line, which include reporter, advisor, and accelerator. But the new release also includes the planner aspect, which allows clients to forecast and budget for future actions.
"The planning component, which is the forecasting and budgeting aspect, works well with Excel," says Ferrara. "The ability interact with the data and input data on top and have it automatically come out in business intelligence is another feature that people hold onto."
IBM is also touting its commitment to the channel through the Cognos Express Line.
We realized that midsized companies depend on our channel partners to provide the domain expertise they may be lacking inside of their organizations," said Ben Plummer, director of midmarket business analytics at IBM. "We chose to take the product through to the channel, to keep it through the channel – 96 percent of sales are channel led. There is some direct selling from IBM, but even in those cases, we've had those organizations work with our channel partners."
For channel partners, this is an opportunity to sell to midmarket clients (1000 seats or less, according to IBM's definition), particularly those just starting to get into business analytics and aren't looking to spend a lot of money up front
"It's a good solution for companies who want to get started at a low-cost of entry," says Ferrara. "For smaller companies who don't have large budgets, there are a lot of features so they can stay within the Express realm and get the functionalities. [Business] has been driven more by cost than by size."