Back in October 2007 a company by the name of Applix was acquired by Cognos. Cognos rebranded the company’s flagship product, TM1, to Cognos TM1. A few months later Cognos was itself acquired by IBM.
It’s fairly old news, but has become more, rather than less, important in the world of planning as the dust has settled over the last few years.
IBM found itself in possession of two popular and very capable planning tools in Cognos TM1 and Cognos Enterprise Planning (EP). They both had the same target market, under the broad umbrella of “budgeting and forecasting” but different strengths and thus different niche positions in the market.
It didn’t make sense to maintain two formerly competing products in full R&D mode, so they took a step back and analysed what the two tools had to offer.
Cognos Planning offered a more supportive front end that guided users through the process of building and managing the system. It also offered a more mature distribution system which allowed it to focus on wide planning applications involving hundreds or thousands of users.
Cognos TM1 offered a powerful calculation engine, more flexibility in modelling and rapid connectivity with source systems like the GL or ERP system
Or, to put it succinctly, TM1’s strengths were in the back end, whereas Planning’s strengths were in the front end.
Putting the two halves together
Naturally there had to be a starting point in combining the two tools and IBM chose TM1 as their starting point. They began to replicate the front end functionality of Planning by taking the look and feel of Cognos Planning Contributor and putting that on top of TM1. That has now been available for several releases and a Planning Contributor user would not be able to tell the difference on moving to TM1 Contributor.
That was the easy part. The more difficult part is replicating the success Cognos Planning had with a large and widely distributed user base. TM1 relies heavily on its powerful calculation engine that sits server side. That strength needs to be balanced with the requirement of delivering real time results to hundreds of simultaneous users. Typical TM1 implementations would previously have only expected to deal with dozens of simultaneous users.
TM1 Contributor has eliminated one of the bottlenecks, which was TM1’s chatty protocol. However the engineers need to make write back even faster than it was previously in order to satisfy the old users of TM1 who want complex calculations and the new users from a Planning history who want a lot of users.
The exciting news is that in the next release they have made great strides in addressing this. The release is due no later than quarter two this year, so we don’t have too long to wait.
Where to for Cognos Planning users
If you’re an existing Cognos Planning user then here at CDP we’re advocating an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach. Planning is still just as a good a product as it was previously and it will continue to be supported by IBM. It will also have a limited development programme based on user requests, however it will not be in full R&D mode.
We recommend that when the next model comes up, or your existing models start to look a little dated, that you look at TM1 then. You may find that Planning will still support your requirements and we will happily assist you in building a model in Planning. Equally, you may find that TM1 offers some benefits or functionality that makes moving over an attractive proposition.
We’ll be offering the best solution to you when all things are considered, not just trying to move you to TM1 because it’s shiny and new.