How to Get the Best Value on Your Cognos, TM1 and SPSS Support Renewals

Support Value
Support Value
August 27th, 2020

We all know the best price is not always the best value when shopping and it is true of IBM Support Renewals as well.   If you are looking to renew your IBM Cognos, Planning Analytics (TM1) or SPSS support you want to make sure you get the best value.  You might be thinking, my support is the same if I buy it from IBM or a partner.  But that is not always true! Today we will share secrets on, “How to get the Best Value on your Cognos, TM1 and SPSS Support Renewals.”

IBM Support Renewals Process

Let’s start by reviewing the IBM support renewals process.  When you purchased your initial licensing for Cognos, Tm1 or SPSS you received one year of support with the purchase.  After that you are provided a quote for support from IBM annually. This support allows you access to patches, upgrades and the ability to contact IBM directly for support.  Here’s a link to IBM information about renewing support.

Keep Current on IBM Support

Lodestar Solutions recommends all clients keep current on their support.  It’s not worth the risk of being unsupported.  (See our blog, Consequences of Not Renewing IBM Cognos Support)  And of course we resell IBM support as do many partners.

Partners Sell Support Cheaper Then IBM

In the past, IBM partners like Lodestar Solutions were often able to sell support renewals to clients cheaper then IBM could sell it.  The way we provided aggressive quotes to clients was by giving up some of our margin, which we called the Lodestar client discount.  But what makes Lodestar unique is that in addition to very competitive quotes, Lodestar provides clients with an annual license check-up where we discuss what you own, what changes IBM has made in the licensing and the software and offer recommendations based on your unique situation.

What the Heck Do I Own - Cognos, TMI, SPSS

Our clients have found Lodestar’s IBM Support Renewal checkups and “What the Heck Do I Own” sessions for Cognos BI, Cognos Planning Analytics (TM1), and SPSS very beneficial.  Every client that renews with Lodestar receives a free customized, “What the Heck do I Own” session where we review your licenses and educate you on functionality you did not even know you had.  We talk about your challenges and how other clients have overcome similar challenges.  This is a very beneficial session. It’s not uncommon for clients to tell us the one-hour session taught them more than a week at an IBM event.   Our reviews have saved our clients huge amounts of money.  (Check out our blog: How an IBM Cognos User Reduced Support Costs by $30,000!)

IBM Changes to Renewals August 2020

Well, in August 2020 IBM changed the partner renewal program and significantly reduced the margins that partners could make. As part of the changes IBM decided they wanted to protect partners that sold the renewal last year, by giving what they call the incumbent partner more margin than other partners.  

Personally, I disagree with IBM’s changes because I believe in competition.  Not all partners offer the same value for the renewal.  I believe the recent move may hurt clients as it does not create an incentive for true value adding partners to reach out to help clients that may be confused with their licensing.  If you renewed with a partner last year that just gave a fabulous quote and did not add value, and this year you want help with licensing and clarification as to what you own, you may find that as you reach out to other IBM partners, they may not want to even provide a quote because they can’t make enough money to justify the work.

Case Study for Value Added Renewals

For a long time, Lodestar Solutions had a client that regularly reviewed their licenses with Lodestar.  Then 5 years ago the executives at the client decided to move all their support renewals to what we refer to as a license consolidator.  Consolidators are large companies that can renew almost every software brand and give discounts due to volume.  The client’s goal was to save money. 

The Cognos BI and TM1 power users were very upset as they loved all the value added services they received throughout the year from Lodestar Solutions.  But the decision came from the top.  Lodestar still worked with the client for services but did not provide licensing recommendations or the annual renewal review. 

Then late in 2018 IBM made changes to the licensing of Enterprise Planning Users and the changes put some clients that move to TM1 at risk of failing an audit.  (See Video for details)  So, Lodestar Solutions reached out to all clients we thought were at risk due to the changes, even those that moved to consolidators.  Well, it turns out, the consolidator did not educate the client on IBM license changes or do annual reviews and the client failed an audit a year earlier costing them almost $1 Million.  When we reached out educating them, they may again fail an audit they realized that the consolidator wasn’t saving them money it actually cost them a bundle!  Yes, the client returned to work with Lodestar for their renewals.  But the moral of the story is, the best price is not the best value.

IBM Changes Not in Clients Best Interest

As I stated earlier, I do not believe IBM’s recent changes to their partner renewals program benefits the clients, but it did cause me to look in the mirror and ask myself how Lodestar can add even more value!  You see, I hate telling the clients their “Lodestar client discount” is being significantly reduced.  But, due to IBM changes we cannot offer the same level of discounts, so instead we are upping our value.  Effective September 2020 all clients that renew their support with Lodestar Solutions will receive the following:

Lodestar Support Client Bonuses

  • Annual licensing review to ensure you are in the optimal licensing mix
  • A “What the Heck do I Own” session where we discuss the new functionality of your unique licensing mix
  • A forward-looking discussion to create a roadmap and recommendation of 3rd party tools that might help you realize your vision faster
  • Access to Lodestar’s private client only collection of videos to educate you on new functionality
  • Periodic no charge check-ins to address your challenges
  • Presentation coaching to help you gain the support and resources you need to success
  • Lodestar Virtual Semi-Annual User Group Meetings
  • Invites to Lodestar exclusive events and offers

NEXT STEP TO GET MORE VALUE FOR YOUR IBM SUPPORT RENEWAL

Lodestar Solutions is here to help you get the best value on your Cognos, TM1 and SPSS Support Renewals.  Value is not just price.  When you evaluate who you work with, don’t you want someone that understands licensing, can navigate the IBM red tape and helps you succeed?

If you want to get the most value from your IBM Support renewal, contact us today at renewals@lodestarsolutions.com and set up a time to chat.

SPSS Case Study of Local School Districts

With shrinking budgets, local governments are forced to do more with less. At the same time, school districts are required to deliver higher quality education. To achieve this goal, school districts are turning to predictive analytics to understand where they should direct the most attention. This is where IBM SPSS comes into play.

Through the use of Predictive Analytics Software, like IBM SPSS, Public Schools around the country are changing the way they teach students. IBM SPSS enables fair comparisons between schools with radically different student populations, ending the historical tendency to treat schools as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ based purely on test results. IBM SPSS identifies students who are statistically likely to fail or drop out, allowing teachers to make timely interventions to get them back on track. It measures the effect of remedial actions taken by teachers, so that the system learns which interventions have the most positive effect in any given scenario.

Case Study:
Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS), located in the metro Atlanta area, is the largest school system in Georgia. The school district serves more than 162,000 students in 133 educational facilities, and one in every five Gwinnett County residents is a GCPS student. GCPS has undergone enormous change over the past few decades, transforming from a rural school system to a large urban school system. The district was one of the fastest growing school systems in the US during this time period.

Business need:
To improve student outcomes, Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) needed better insight into school performance. In particular, the organization wanted to adjust results to account for economic and demographic disparities among schools, in order to reveal which were truly adding value and which were under-performing. It also wanted the ability to benchmark performance figures against other high-performing large school districts nationally.

Solution:
GCPS deployed IBM SPSS Predictive Analytics software to provide insight into student and school performance, normalized to take into account the negative effects of indicators such as the proportion of economically disadvantaged students at a given school. The solution will provide daily dashboards to teachers, enabling them to see how their students are progressing against normal expectations.

Results:
GCPS relies on IBM SPSS as a key strategic tool for enhancing the quality of policy decisions. It will use SPSS Modeler to try to understand the paths that children take all the way through education. “We are building the ability to understand what path a child is on, and how far they might be straying from a path that is deemed to be successful,” said their superintendent. “SPSS gives us the ability to look for correlations across large sets of performance data, revealing relationships between data that we can then analyze more thoroughly. This is all about using predictive analytics to enable us to intervene in a timely, effective manner.”

The proof is in the Results
“SPSS gives us confidence in our understanding of school performance. It enables us to extract meaningful and actionable information from the raw data, and that is leading to more effective practices for our students’ learning. Another major benefit is that it takes data mining out of the hands of statistics specialists. Perhaps the biggest praise I have for SPSS is that it allowed me as a non-statistician to have great success in a reasonable period of time.”

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