Cognos vs SAS vs MicroStrategy: Which BI Tool Is The Winner?

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When choosing a Business Intelligence software solution, it’s important to have a bird’s eye view of the overall offerings of each platform, and how those features dovetail into an entrepreneur’s needs. In this article, we’ll be comparing three leaders in the space: Cognos, SAS and MicroStrategy.

Compare Cognos, SAS and MicroStrategy Against Your Needs

Cognos vs Microstrategy vs SAS

Getting Started:

It’s natural for a company to want to try before they buy. For this reason these platforms each offer comparable trial versions to accommodate different types of clients:

  • Currently, MicroStrategy lets clients choose a free trial that has a duration of 30 days.
  • Although SAS does not provide a complimentary trial, the company offers an educational version that is entirely free.
  • A client can try a trial version of Cognos Business Intelligence if the individual creates an account on IBM’s website.

See how these vendors stack up in a side-by-side comparison leaderboard.

Next, let’s take a closer look at each of the BI platforms’ offerings from ground-level.


Unveiled in July 2013, SAS is able to connect to most types of in-house databases to combine information that has been extracted from various sources. The program can also pivot large sets of data by evaluating keywords or characteristics that are related to each batch of information. The system is then able to create maps, graphs and charts for greater ease of consumption and access to actionable reporting.

Developing Interfaces

Once the platform has obtained data from multiple sources, the program can generate a custom interface that lets users organize the information and search for specific sets of data. The interface has sophisticated denormalization tools, which allow each program to eliminate the impact of redundant information and evaluate the scalability of each set of data.

Creating Relationships With Customers

SAS can evaluate previous purchases, the client’s stated interests, software that a customer has downloaded, and the pages that a patron viewed. As a result, the program is able to automatically develop a custom experience for the customer by adding advertisements and updates that are related to each client’s interests. A company’s experts may also view a detailed profile of each customer, creating a database of criteria proven to improve customer satisfaction overall.

Customer Service and Communities

SAS currently provides short guides that describe the program’s functions and features where customers can place comments within each post. The company also manages forums that currently feature more than 251,000 posts and approximately 82,000 members, creating an environment for comprehensive input and high quality resource material for users.

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Like the programs that SAS developed, MicroStrategy’s software is capable of producing stacked charts that indicate the number of products that every region’s customers purchased, the return on investment of localized marketing campaigns, the conversion rate that each geographic region’s patrons generate, and local keyword phrases that incur visitors. Furthermore, analysts may modify the charts and choose to pivot sales by time of year or geographic location.

Evaluating Reviews and Messages

MicroStrategy gives businesses the ability to evaluate the tone of every testimonial and to identify certain impactful phrases within longer reviews. The software also has advanced features that can cross-reference each vendor’s reputation to examine the opinions of customers by demographic, interest categories, social media interactions, and buying habits.

MicroStrategy’s algorithm can trace purchasing patterns from the traffic source, link interaction, web browser, session length, and even the brand of mobile device the customer is using, all the way to the purchase and beyond. The platform offers the ability to then calculate conversion rate and overall profitability of each web page in order to improve customer experience, and grow revenue from the traffic being generated.

Predicting Statistical Trends

MicroStrategy enables the user to examine factors that contribute to an individual metric, creating forecasts in various formats for actionable reporting. Offered within the forecasting interface are unlimited independent metrics and an abundance of distinct variables, among them being customers’ age, sales representative performance, location targeting and revenue statistics.

Utilizing an Interactive Studio and Creating Custom Applications

A unique offering of MicroStrategy’s platform is the ability to create a custom application to integrate multiple prompts, filters, documents, metrics, and templates, either from scratch or by easily integrating assets into an existing app. A developer can then leverage data to create interactive scorecards to leverage combined revenue and sales data with customer reviews and product inventory.

Finally, MicroStrategy encourages the exchange of ideas within its cultivated community with avenues for experts to share APIs, processes and documentation for improved workflow. Multiple messaging capabilities as well as promotional voting allowing great solutions to meet with maximum scalability.

Compare Cognos, SAS and MicroStrategy Against Your Needs

Cognos Business Intelligence

Cognos Business Intelligence was acquired by IBM in 2007. The proprietary program lets users create event notifications, custom reports, and easily collaborate with business partners to provide quick and comprehensive feedback to consumers. The system also offers modifiable dashboards, keyword identification tools, and sophisticated custom web-based reporting capabilities, similar to its competitors.

Providing Answers

Cognos Business Intelligence offers a “studio” functionality where analysts can pose scenarios within the program, and its sophisticated algorithm can leverage large swaths of data to provide distinctive responses and multiple possible outcomes for heuristic solutions.

Utilizing The Digital Interface

Within the aforementioned studio, users can easily drag and drop elements and statistics into custom analytical visualizations to create custom reporting modules. The intuitive algorithm can then rapidly identify outliers and erroneous information to eliminate the potential erroneous effects of statistical anomalies.

Managing Events

Cognos Business Intelligence offers alert capabilities to notify users of certain major occurrences, such as reduced inventory, substantial increases in profit or cost, record sales or various acquisitions. The platform offers customizable notification settings to alert users via email and within the system.

Engaging Clients

IBM has included advanced forum capabilities for social interaction within Cognos BI where analysts can easily create topics, tag areas of interest for future users, create detailed profiles, and post notifications about important events. The platform offers several smaller user networks based on interest categories in order to find more granular answers to specific inquiries.

Choosing The Right BI Tools

SAS can offer predictive analytics that are more advanced than the forecasts of the other programs. The software also contains a large amount of tools that gauge customer satisfaction and trends that may affect sales. The business offers custom estimates for new clients, but in general, the company’s BI software offerings carry a higher price tag than Cognos Business Intelligence.

MicroStrategy’s programs provide more than 300 features related to analytics and can automatically update digital models that illustrate statistical results. The program has cutting-edge tools that are able to localize statistics and user interfaces, and the system offers translations in menus, messages, descriptions of features and toolbars. In order to test the software, a potential buyer can obtain a free trial with a duration of 30 days.

Cognos Business Intelligence provides more comprehensive responses than the programs of SAS and MicroStrategy, and IBM’s system is compatible with an especially large number of APIs. The program also generates easy-to-use scorecards and features a streamlined user interface. Like MicroStrategy, IBM allows each client to use a trial version of the program for 30 days.

Compare Cognos, SAS and MicroStrategy Against Your Needs

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