In technology, acronyms are often meaningless. In fact, they are often new garb for old products.

But there is one acronym that seems to have substance: BI. This stands for business intelligence, and a leader in the field is Cognos (NASDAQ:COGN). One of its key products, ReportNet, is growing at a rapid clip. Basically, the software provides pixel-perfect, high-quality reports for managers -- for local and global environments. Essentially, the software answers a very important question: What is going on with my company?

Well, yesterday, Cognos answered this very question for its investors on its quarterly conference call. The company posted revenues of $185.2 million, which was a 17% increase from the same period a year ago. Net income was $27.6 million, which was a 52% increase from the same period a year ago.

While licensing growth has been slow -- if nonexistent -- in the software industry, Cognos had 21% growth in the past quarter, reaching $75.4 million. In fact, for the first four quarters of the release of ReportNet, licensing revenues for the product have exceeded $100 million. In the enterprise world, this is a veritable best-seller.

Companies are demanding business intelligence, and Cognos has a complete solution. Some of the customer wins in the past quarter include Georgia Pacific (NYSE:GP), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM).

When there is strong growth, the benefits can be tremendous for software companies, especially in terms of cash flows. In the past quarter, Cognos added $24 million to its cash balance, which now stands at $440.4 million.

In light of the strength of ReportNet, Cognos plans to expand its sales force. The company also wants to leverage its partnership networks, such as with Accenture (NYSE:ACN) and IBM (NYSE:IBM).

Despite the strong quarter, Wall Street's response was ho-hum, as the stock price inched up $0.60 to $34.54. No doubt, investors are still "on strike" when it comes to the software sector.

Fool contributor Tom Taulli does not own the companies mentioned in the article.