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In Business Operations Last updated: November 18, 2022
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Do you want to stay ahead of your competitors? Regardless of your organization size, BI tools will help you make informed business decisions for a thriving business.

Only actionable and data-driven decisions can ensure effective management and business growth today. Intuition and accumulated experiences are not enough to make such decisions.

Contrary to the old days when organizations did not have sufficient data, now they are drowning in it. If you are also overwhelmed with a huge amount of data but still want to come up with the right decision out of these, it is time to choose a business intelligence solution.

With so many BI tools in the market, selecting the right one can be difficult. Check out this face-to-face comparison between Cognos vs. Tableau—two renowned BI tools that enjoy global popularity.

BI Software and Reasons for Its Popularity

BI Software and Reasons for Its Popularity and Cognos Analytics

Business intelligence tools are applications that collect and process large amounts of data to provide a clear and comprehensive representation of the situation. In order to do so, these applications process unstructured data from various internal and external sources, such as documents, journals, health records, files, images, videos, and emails. 

The aim of a BI tool is to offer a clear and customized visualization of data so that they can make data-driven decisions. Using it, organizations can find the required information, primarily with the help of queries. BI applications use data mining and analytics to prepare data that you can use on dashboards, reports, and presentations. 

BI tools make the data analytics process much easier as the applications do not need experts to run them. The platforms generate results that both executives and managers can utilize to make improved decisions. 

At the same time, these tools enhance operational efficiency, identify new possibilities for revenue, recognize market trends, document genuine KPIs, and pinpoint novel business potentials.

Let’s have a look at an introductory discussion on Cognos and Tableau.

What Is Cognos Analytics?

Cognos reporting tool mainly deals with analytics and data monitoring. Powered by IBM, this robust BI platform comes with various dashboards and reports to display data insights.

It offers a smart and self-service analytical solution to the users that can query, track, and process analytical data. Due to the attractive dashboards, visualizations, ease of use, and forecasting capabilities, Cognos BI is highly popular among users.

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  • Reliable and scalable platform with a firewall for data security.
  • Instant monitoring, scenario modeling, and predictive analytics.
  • Real-time events, alerts, and notifications.
  • Compatible with big data platforms, such as AWS, Cloudera, and Hortonworks.
  • Interactive charts and maps for a captivating presentation.
  • Flexible data import, dataset management, and reporting.
  • Assists in improving the module performance.
  • Allows users to edit the existing data.


  • Offers multiple BI capabilities like reporting and query, analysis, and score carding with a single architecture.
  • Automatic real-time notifications and workflows for better productivity.
  • Support for popular RDBMS tools for content management and reporting.
  • Data analysis for implementing strategies.
  • Share insights with colleagues for collaborative decision-making and collective intelligence.


  • Features like departmental deployments and multi-dimensional analysis are unavailable.
  • Comes with a steep learning curve and is not ideal for non-technical users.
  • Does not support MacOS, and no free trials are available.

Top Companies using Cognos

Some of the top enterprises that use Cognos analytics are Troy Corporation, Michigan State University, BMW Financial Services, Mueller Inc., Coates Hire, Quinte Health Care, GKN Land System, Becker Underwood, and so on.

What Is Tableau?

On the other hand, Tableau software is a popular visualization tool that can also perform business intelligence. It simplifies the data and shows it in an easily understandable format. 

The platform can generate results from any kind of data—structured, unstructured, or semi-structured. Besides, Tableau online is capable of creating complex visualizations and toggling between various representations. It uses natural language to answer the users’ queries.

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  • Tooltip editing is possible from the web browser.
  • Allows to include different layers into the informative maps.
  • Powerful security system to secure user information and business data.
  • Contextual search, Toggle view, benchmarking, and drag and drop.
  • Quick data predictions and analysis with trend lines and forecasting.
  • Securely imports data from sources like Google Analytics, SQL Server, Dropbox, Presto, etc.
  • Facilities to use Gantt chart, histogram, motion chart, and bubble chart for data visualization.
  • Data blending, text, filters, and visual objects to create an informative dashboard.


  • Drag-and-drop interface for seamless interactive visualization.
  • Easy to use interface for all users, including the non-technical ones.
  • Customized dashboard creation is available for laptops and mobile phones.
  • Ability to process a huge amount of data without affecting dashboard performance.
  • Data visualization feature for dashboarding data blending.


  • An expensive solution in terms of scaling up.
  • No option for scheduling or automatic report refreshing.
  • Offers a limited number of columns by default.
  • Requires SQL knowledge for creating complex datasets from multiple data resources.

Top Companies using Tableau

Companies that use Tableau include names like US Air Force, Google, Adobe, Citrix, Skype, Accenture, Amazon, Deloitte, HP, Citigroup, Bank of America, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Pandora, and The New York Times.

Cognos Vs. Tableau: Features

Now, look at how Cognos and Tableau perform as we put them head-to-head in various parameters.

#1. Integration

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Cognos reporting tool lets its users import data from a wide variety of sources, including Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, Redshift, and third-party data connectors. If your business operations rely on workspaces and business tools from IBM, you can expect more functionalities from the Cognos BI tool. The application’s modules easily sync with various IBM-developed software.

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On the contrary, Tableau is a renowned tool within the business fraternity for its robust integrations with Salesforce. Here, the ultimate plan of Salesforce is to centralize all the capabilities of Tableau and Salesforce’s native business intelligence tool, Einstein Analytics, in one easy-to-use interface. 

Until that transformation happens, you may experience fragmented feelings while using both Einstein Analytics and Tableau on the Salesforce platform.

#2. Payment

IBM’s Cognos Analytics is a highly scalable BI tool that comes with flexible subscription options for micro, small, startup, medium, and large businesses. The tool is suitable for those who offer contractual or freelance BI services to commercial clients. It provides the following plans: 

  • The On-Demand cloud application is good for up to 200 users. You will get features like dashboards, collaboration, storytelling, Cognos mobile, etc., for just $10.00 per user per month.
  • Alternatively, you can get the Premium plan ($40.00 per user per month) which is available for both cloud-hosted and on-premise Cognos reporting software. You get access to advanced data analytics features like enterprise reporting, AI exploration, Watson Insights, etc. 

On the contrary, Tableau offers three different tiers of subscription levels. In addition, you can save some money if you host the tool on your business’s IT infrastructure. Here is a glimpse of this BI tool’s payment plans:

  • Tableau Viewer is for $15.00/user/month and $12.00 when self-hosted. 
  • Tableau Explorer is available for $42.00/user/month and $35.00 when you get the on-premise solution.
  • Tableau Creator will cost you $70.00 for the cloud and on-premise BI solution.

All the Tableau subscriptions are available on an annual commitment basis.   

#3. Visualizations

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When you use Cognos for business data visualization purposes, you convert granular data into metadata. Cognos metadata gives you more information about the corresponding data; hence, pattern or relationship identification becomes effortless.

Therefore, Cognos is for those who are highly experts in data analytics, data structuring, and data visualizations. Average users may find using this BI tool a challenging task. 

Because Cognos visualizations completely remove the original structure or format of your input data. Therefore, you need to understand the basics and concept of data visualization before you can derive actionable insight from this software.

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On the flipside, Tableau is suitable for both data analytics experts, average users, and learners. Also, since the BI tool can import and visualize massive datasets, it is also ideal for big data analysis since conventional spreadsheet apps can not handle big datasets. 

If you go through the recommended Tableau learning curve, you should be able to make database queries and drill down data to discover profitable insights.

#4. Operating System Support 

Cognos supports various operating systems. These are: 

  • IBM Cognos Analytics for Mobile and Reports require Android 10 and later; iOS 14 and later; iPad OS 14 and later.
  • The latest Cognos Analytics on-premise software requires Windows 8 or later; Windows Server 2012 and newer, Ubuntu 16.04 and later, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) Server 7, and IBM AIX 7.1 and later versions.

On the flipside, Tableau is compatible with Windows and Mac environments only. You can run the on-premise application on Windows 8 and later, macOS 10.14 and later. Whether Mac or Windows, the CPU should support POPCNT instruction sets and SSE4.2. Tableau is not compatible with RHEL OS.    

#5. Cloud vs. On-Premise

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Cognos comes with cloud-hosting, on-premises, and hybrid solutions (cloud and on-premise). Its cloud instance can host thousands of users in the IBM Cloud environment. The online solution has features like VPN, License sharing, productive instances, non-productive instances, etc. 

However, Cognos is popular as an on-premise solution since it lets you utilize Red Hat OpenShift, IBM Cloud Pak, AWS, Google, and Azure infrastructures for BI.

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On the contrary, Tableau Online is more robust and scalable. It offers totally online systems for full-service data analytics for all kinds of businesses. However, according to Tableau’s recommendations, the cloud solution is suitable for solo users, while the server-hosted system is suitable for enterprises.   

#6. Business Support/Target Audience

Cognos is a specialized BI tool suited for large businesses or enterprises. Because it needs other support applications for various data processing processes like warehousing, formatting, extracting, transforming, loading (ETL), SQL querying, and data integration. You will also need skilled BI operators to produce meaningful data patterns from Cognos.

On the flipside, Tableau Online is the best fit for solo, teams, micro, small, and medium businesses. It is also appropriate for enterprises. On Tableau, anyone can produce something meaningful if they know the basics of data analytics. Moreover, you do not need an IT support team just for this tool.

#7. Analytics Capabilities

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You can easily go with Cognos if you are a seasoned data analytics and BI expert. It can help you develop dashboards, dynamic dashboards, etc. It also offers some built-in visualizations for common business scenarios. Furthermore, its AI assistant tool can help you with data cleansing, formatting, and visualizing.

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On the other hand, Tableau is more intuitive. Its functionalities let you connect the tool with real-time or in-memory databases and fetch live business insights. It utilizes its specialized VizQL engine and R language for data analytics. You do not need to go through much training to operate Tableau.

#8. CRM

Cognos does not come with a built-in CRM system. However, you can easily integrate it with popular CRMs that most businesses use.

From the CRM point of view, Tableau is a clear winner. If your business operations are on the Salesforce, then you can utilize Tableau’s CRM/BI package. Since BI and CRM tools work with another’s help, hence Tableau’s services are more profitable for your business.

#9. Customer Support System 

IBM is a renowned business software provider; subsequently, its customer service and support are more robust than the competitor. First, it assists businesses in training and certifying their employees for Cognos Analytics. Secondly, remote tech support teams can assist you with software issues during business operations.

On the contrary, Tableau focuses more on end-user support. It has four levels of support system for different subscriptions. The best support you can get is through the Elite program, which comes with a dedicated technical account manager. However, the OEM customers get dedicated support engineers for tool integrations.

Cognos Vs. Tableau: Which Is Better?

BI tools assist you in making smart and agile decisions toward accomplishing significant business goals. It is evident from the above discussion that both Cognos Analytics and Tableau software come with high-end features and will offer great benefits to your organization.

If you are looking for an easy-to-use BI tool that anyone can use right away, Tableau should be your choice. On the other hand, if you are already using other IBM products and have tech professionals on your team, you can go for Cognos.

Moreover, you can also check out other business intelligence platforms if you want to learn about other BI tools.

  • Bipasha Nath
    I am a technical and creative content writer with 10+ years of experience in the relevant industry. My degrees in English and Sociology, coupled with working experience in software development companies, help me understand how technology… read more
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