What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace 75 and 76

What's New in IBM Planning Analytics Workspace 75 and 76
What's New in IBM Planning Analytics Workspace 75 and 76
Written by Mike Bernaiche, May 19th 2022

Typically, once a month, IBM updates Planning Analytics Workspace.  In April version 75 was released and the most recent version is Planning Analytics Workspace 76, released in May 2022.  Both of these updates bring some new features, enhancements and depreciation of certain items.  Please read below for the full details of both recent releases.  Please note that each update is cumulative.  Upgrading to Planning Analytics Workspace version 76 will add all features in previous versions.

Planning Analytics Workspace 75

  • Display parents, children or leaves for selected members – the new experience set editor now allows you to show parents, children or leaves for selected members.
planning analytics workspace 75 set editor
  • Update to predictive forecasting service – additional capabilities added for outlier and detection and correction, meaning more accurate predictive forecasting.
  • Adjust for outliers in your forecast – click adjust outliers button to adjust.
adjust outliers in your forecast
forecast preview
  • Cube creation – cubes can now only be created in the modeling workbench.
  • Add variable in TI process editor – up until now PA automatically created variables based on the number of columns in the data source.  You can now add more variables to the process.
  • Search and filter on hierarchies – now have an option to search and filter hierarchies.
  • Depreciation notice on editing processes – Starting with version 78 all processes must be created and edited in the modeling workbench.

Planning Analytics Workspace 76

  • Custom theme for Planning Analytics Workspace - You can now create and upload a custom theme to reflect your corporate branding in Planning Analytics Workspace. You can use a theme to modify the colors of the application bar and the navigation bar, set the corporate name shown on the home page, and specify an image to display on the home page.
  • Send email notification when step in a plan is opened – send an email notification to user when you open a step in your plan created in Planning Analytics Workspace 76.
Email notification in planning analytics workspace 76
  • Create control objects in Modeling Workbench – you can now create control objects for cubes, dimensions and processes in the modeling workbench.
Create control objects in Modeling Workbench
  • Preview additional rows in the TI process editor – a button has been added to preview more rows of data when creating a TI process.
  • Sort members in new experience set editor – option to now sort available members in set editor ascending or descending.
  • Delete sets from new experience set editor – previously you could only delete sets from the data tree.  You can now delete sets from the new experience set editor.
Experience Set Editor in Planning Analytics Workspace 76
  • Cell comments updated with new look – cell comments have been updated to review comments in an easier way.
  • Enhanced search features – you can now search by using “match all of the following” or “match any of the following”.
  • Customize the color or background of data and header cells – you can now use the extensive color pallet to customize the color of data rows or headers to provide a better look and feel for your data.  This can be found in the visualization properties under custom.
  • Updated design for data spread options – IBM is working hard to standardize the look and feel in the entire Planning Analytics Workspace experience.  In Planning Analytics Workspace 76, they have updated the spread options look and feel.
Spread Data Options in Planning Analytics Workspace 76

Summary

As you can read Planning Analytics version 75 and Planning Analytics version 76 added a number of new features.  To see all of the details please check out 2.0.76 - What's new, May 5, 2022 - IBM Documentation and 2.0.75 - What's new, April 7, 2022 - IBM Documentation.

Did you know that some versions of Planning Analytics are reaching end of life?  Read more here - IBM Planning Analytics Versions Are End of Life - Lodestar Solutions.

To read all Lodestar blogs related to PA - Cognos TM1 Blogs by IBM Cognos Expert Consultants & Coaches (lodestarsolutions.com)

If you have any questions or need some help upgrading, please reach out to me at services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Why You Aren’t Attracting Analytics Talent!

Why You Aren't Attracting Analytics Talent
Why You Aren't Attracting Analytics Talent
Written by Heather L. Cole, May 12th 2022

Are you looking to hire analytics talent but struggling to find people to even apply for your open positions?  Are you blaming the Great Resignation?  STOP!  The people are getting hired by someone… So, today I’ll share what I have been coaching our Lodestar Solutions clients on hiring talent and Why You Aren’t Attracting Analytic Talent.

Your Job Posting Sucks.

The first place to start is sit down and read your job posting!  Most suck.  When you read it, think I was of the experience level I am looking for, would I respond to the post?  Most job posts are written in the old school way when employers have tons of candidates to choose from.  The world has changed and so should how you write your job posts.  It’s not so much what you are looking for but what you offer the candidates with analytics talent!  See our earlier blog, Job Posting Tips to Attract Analytics Talent.

Do You Allow Remote or Hybrid Work?

If the pandemic taught us anything it’s that major corporations can survive and thrive even when employees work from home.  As someone who used to deal with Chicago’s commute, I can tell you when I started working remote over 20 years ago, I vowed I would never work for someone that made me go to an office every day.  Talented people know they can demand a remote or hybrid work environment and if you don’t put it on your post that you offer it, top analytics talent are doing the proverbial swiping left and rejecting you.  

Executive Team Needs to Face Reality

I appreciate that there are many executive teams that want to require people to come back into the office, but the data is showing us that hybrid work and remote work is here to stay.  Even one of my favorite authors, Bernard Marr discusses this in his book,  Business Trends in Practice: The 25+ Trends That Are Redefining Organizations. A quick way to validate this is to ask your team.  Create an anonymous survey and see what your people are saying.  You do realize that if your people want to keep working at least some days remotely and you want them in the office you risk losing them, right?

Evaluate your Pay!

Inflation is real.  The market is benefiting the job seekers, so they are demanding more pay.  But many companies are failing to look at market conditions and adjusting pay.  I had one client post a job and when a friend saw the posting, he said Heather they are extremely low paying for the title they are posting.  This discussion led them to do their research and sure enough they weren’t even close.  It’s easy today to find market rates.  There are many sites like www.glassdoor.com or www.indeed.com where you can put in search parameters and see what the market is paying. 

Unfortunately, for some of you, your prior behavior has given you a bad reputation.  If your online reviews in the job boards is not so stellar you will need to face it head on!  Would you apply for a job with a company that had a 2.8 rating out of 5?  You might want to consider writing in your job post how the environment is changing if you are in this situation.

Learn How to Manage Hybrid Workers

After you check your job posting to attract talent, and you know you are paying a fair wage, you should start to see applicants apply.  Now the hard work comes!  You must learn not only how to manage hybrid workers and remote teams but also how to hire people that would thrive in the new world. 

Ask the Right Questions –

You will want to review your departmental and corporate core values and ask questions to flesh out if applicants have your core values.  I don’t believe this is something we can teach; I believe core values was something our parents taught us when we were children or it’s part of our DNA.  For example, do you really think integrity is taught later in life?  To get yourself started read the book Hiring for Attitude: A Revolutionary Approach to Recruiting and Selecting People with Both Tremendous Skills and Superb Attitude! by Mark Murphy.

Display How You Manage Your Team Hybrid Workers –

During the interview process you want to share what you do that is unique to help them grow and thrive as a manager.  The younger generation want constant feedback and to be part of something important.  As a manager you want to create ways to help meet their needs so you can inspire them.  More on this in future blogs.

Show them the Path.

Finally, you want to make sure you are mapping out a growth plan for any new hires.  With the speed of technology and the rapid changing world, you MUST hire growth minded people.  But as a manager you also must help them define that path for the future and provide feedback.  If your company is willing to invest in their learning and “upskills” make sure you communicate that.  Soft Skill training programs are always a great growth path for analytic professionals.   Another idea is to offer group coaching to your team members.  If you want to learn more about group coaching and professional development programs, email us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Analytic Talent Resources

Here’s another resource you might want to check out if you are seeking talent.

Gartner’s article on How to Attract and Retain Talent for Your Data And Analytics Team.

Summary of Attracting Talent

Hopefully you had a couple ahh moments while reading our thoughts on why you aren’t attracting Analytic Talent.  Hybrid work and remote teams are here to stay.  We would love to hear about your struggles and creative ideas you have had to address them.  Please email us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com to set up a chat.

Facilitating Analytic Discovery for Success

Facilitating Analytics Discovery for Success
Facilitating Analytics Discovery for Success
Written by Heather L. Cole, April 28th 2022

Are you looking for more time to deliver analytics?  Maybe your team is short staffed, and you are doing the work of 2-3 people.  I get it!  I have been in that race, and it can be stressful.  So, I must ask you, have you ever taken a step back and asked yourself, “How can I be more effective in my role delivering analytics to my organization?”  We spend so much time moving through the motions, responding to urgent requests from executives and yet what if we just stopped and took a few steps back and say can I be more effective?  When I did this as an IBM Cognos consultant, I realized I needed to learn how to be better at facilitating analytics discovery for success. 

Time to Become More Effective

Think about it.  If you had a crystal ball and could identify exactly what your executives wanted, if you could not only read their mind but help them determine what they want, you would be so effective.  No more building reports and dashboards people don’t use.  No more scrambling as they changed their minds daily.  You would have executives calling you to meet with you as they strategically plan the growth of the organization.

What is Facilitation?

Facilitation is the act facilitating or act of making easier according to Merriam -Webster dictionary.  So, facilitating analytics discovery is the act of making analytics discovery easier.  Who wouldn’t want to know how to do that better?  Note I use the word discovery and not requirements gathering intentionally.  You see at Lodestar Solutions we believe users often don’t know what they want.  So, there’s nothing to gather until you help the users discover what’s possible and what they would benefit from.

easy button

I am guessing you have taken a few training programs on how to use Cognos, Tableau, Qlik, Power BI or other solutions.  So, you know how to build reports.  Maybe you even are working on an advanced degree in Business Analytics from a school like University of South Florida here in Tampa.  But how much time have you spent learning how to do proper discovery?  How much time have you spent learning to facilitate an effective meeting? 

It's okay if you haven’t!  Most people in our industry, haven’t.  It’s rare I see a consultant or analytic professional skilled at facilitating discovery sessions.  The good news, however, is that you can learn it! 

For me I had been working in the industry for years, before I realized I was great at inspiring and motivating clients, but I would meet with clients and ask what are you doing today?  My goal was to simplify and automate the manual processes they had already defined. 

Facilitation of Analytic Discovery Experts

But one day, I took that step back and challenged myself!  I asked what do the experts in facilitation of analytic discovery do?  You know what I learned?  I didn’t know anyone good at it.  I could not think of a single role model in this area.  Who do you know that is fabulous at leading a thought-provoking discussion for executives around analytics?  Are you drawing a blank too?

After facing the hard fact that facilitation and discovery are not commonly taught, and that most of us wing it, I decided it was time to take action.  I started down my professional development journey of learning about and teaching classes in facilitation, influence, presentation techniques, and psychology of teams.  I certified in Scrum and I began to implement what I learned. 

The results were amazing! 

Benefits of Learning Facilitation.

  •  Clients and their teams gained clarity.
  • Executives gain confidence in the teams and engaged more.
  • End Users become part of the solutions and end user adoption increased.
  • Projects were more rewarding and gained visibility at the top levels of the organization.
  • The duration to delivery for projects shrunk.
  • And clients saved a lot of money.

But the biggest win for our clients was that they were empowered to host their own internal discovery sessions, because the world is changing, your business is changing and analytic discovery is not a one and done process.

Be Transformational

When Business Analytic Professionals learn to facilitate analytic discovery for success they will help lead the organization and help transformation.  Regardless of if you are on a BI team, or in Finance this is your time to lead.  For finance professionals you should see our earlier blog, Finance Must lead Business Transformation Before Someone Else Does

You are Not Alone!

My journey to be come an Analytics Leader with the skills in Facilitating Analytic Discovery sessions was a very long and expensive journey.  I traveled the world attending personal development conferences, joining masterminds, reading books.  But it doesn’t have to take you that long!  

Lodestar Solutions, Inc. is creating a new program that is designed specifically for analytic professionals!  This will be a virtual workshop, where you learn proven methods to facilitate analytic discovery.  Keep an eye out for our announcement coming soon.  If you find this interesting email us at services@lodestarsolutions.com and share your challenges.

IBM Cognos Analytics for Office – PowerPoint Edition

IBM Cognos Analytics for Office – PowerPoint Edition
IBM Cognos Analytics for Office – PowerPoint Edition
Written by Mike Bernaiche, April 21st 2022

I am sure some of you reading can relate to this situation.  Management reporting is due each month and quarter and you spend hours searching for updated numbers and then copying or typing numbers into your PowerPoint presentation, hoping you grabbed the correct data points.  Then you complete your presentation, and someone adjusted a few numbers and now it must be redone.  Now you are working late on Friday to finish.  It is frustrating, I know, I have been in your shoes.  I have a wonderful solution for you, IBM Cognos Analytics for Office.  This product has been around for a long time, but you don’t see a lot written or shown on it.  If you could solve the issue above with a couple of clicks inside of PowerPoint, isn’t it worth it?  The best news is, if you own IBM Cognos Analytics you own IBM Cognos Analytics for Office.  All you need to do is install the product and anyone licensed with a user license or higher in Cognos Analytics has access.

What is IBM Cognos Analytics for Office?

IBM Cognos Analytics for Office provides the framework that leverages the business intelligence architecture, including security, metadata, and content storage.  This infrastructure helps you manage your Microsoft Office documents and monitor the financial performance of your organization.  Use the applications of IBM Cognos Office to create, view, and consume reports, analyses, and other business intelligence content using familiar Microsoft Office applications, such as Excel, PowerPoint, and Word.

What Data Can I Use?

In short, if the data is in Cognos Analytics you can embed it into PowerPoint, Word or connect with Excel.  What does that mean?  Flat files uploaded to Cognos, data base connections, Framework Manager models, Transformer models and Planning Analytics / TM1 models.  You will see in the below screen shot the contents of the team content area.  You can also use the “my folders” area as well.

What Data can be used for IBM Cognos Analytics for Office

How to Get Started

  1.  Install Cognos Analytics for Office on each user’s local machine and ensure that the IBM Framework for Office add in is enabled.  Installing IBM Cognos for Microsoft Office - IBM Documentation
  2. Click the connect button and set up your connection to your Cognos Analytics environment.  You will use your connection URL to your Cognos system.
  3. Click the IBM Cognos for Microsoft Office button and connect.  You should now see the tree of folders and packages in the task pane.

Now that the connection has been created, it is time to start to bring the data into PowerPoint.

  1.  You need to create the report objects in Cognos Analytics.  You create either a list or crosstab report for the data that is required in your presentation.
  2. Once the report is created simply save it to a location in team content or my content.
  3. Now start to create your presentation and go to the location in the task pain and select the report you need for the particular slide you are working on.
  4. Either double click or right click and insert report.
  5. You can add format options for the chart such as colors, dollar signs, bold type, etc. directly in Excel.
  6. Also, by changing the way you bring in the report you can create a chart and apply options to the charts directly inside of PowerPoint.
  7. Once you have completed your presentation you can simply refresh the data by clicking on the refresh data button in the IBM taskbar.

Examples:

Summary

As you can read it is pretty simple but powerful to use the IBM Cognos Analytics for Office add in.  You can save many hours of work by creating the templates and just refreshing the data each time you need to update the presentations.  If you need help or want to discuss, please reach out to services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Did you find this blog helpful?  If so, be sure to check out our website and see all our latest blogs.  We release a new blog each week full of helpful information for IBM Cognos licensing or on other Business Inteligence topics. Check us out at www.lodestarsolutions.com.

Using the Cognos Analytics Assistant

Using the Cognos Analytics Assistant
Using the Cognos Analytics Assistant
Written by Mike Bernaiche, April 14th 2022

Have you ever wondered, “where do I start in building a dashboard in Cognos Analytics?”  Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed with all of the data?  I have and I bet you have as well.   What if I told you that IBM Cognos Analytics with Watson has a built in feature called the Cognos Analytics Assistant and it can help answer the questions above and so much more. 

What is the Cognos Analytics Assistant?

The Cognos Analytics Assistant is a text-based feature that allows you to gain quick insights into your data, making creating dashboards or explorations simple.  With just a few steps you can access data sources, view suggested visualizations or insights, and bring them over to a dashboard or exploration.  The assistant panel is made up of 3 sections: toolbar, output, and input areas. 

Cognos Analytics Assistant
Cognos Analyitcs Assistant Chat

Capabilities and Commands

There is a lot to unpack in this area about everything you can do with the Cognos Analytics Assistant.

  • Show Overview of Assistant – Type “help” to see a general overview of the assistant.
  • View Data Sources – To see a list of supported data sources type “view data sources.”
  • Suggest Questions – Type “suggest questions” and the assistant will suggest some starting questions for you.
Cognos Analytics Assistant Suggested Questions
  • Show Data Source Details – Type “show source (enter source name” or “load source (enter source name)” to see fields and details of your source.
Show Data Source Details
  • Show Column Details – type “show column (column name)” to see information and related fields.
Show Column Details
  • Show Column Influencers – Enter “What influences (column name)” to see what fields influence your chosen field.
Show Column Influencers
  • Create chart of visualization – The assistant can create a chart of visualization by simply typing “show chart (column1) and (column2)”.  You can further expand by then clicking “show related visualizations”.  You can further the experience by clicking “create dashboard form chart”.
Create chart of visualization
Related Visualizations
Create dashboard from chart
  • Create Dashboard – If you want to select a data source and ask IBM Cognos Analytics with Watson to start with a dashboard you can simply type “create dashboard” and use that as a starting point.
  • Create Simple Dashboard – With larger data sources or just the need for something simple, you can start with “create simple dashboard” to ask the Cognos Analytics Assistant to create a simple dashboard to start with.

Dashboard Example:

Cognos Analytics Assistant Dashboard Example

Filtering with Assistant

You can ask the Cognos Analytics Assistant to apply filters to data by applying words and associated synonyms.  I will go through a few examples below but there are many ways to filter through the assistant and a complete list can be found here. Assistant filtering - IBM Documentation

Filtering through the assistant has been included for many versions, however, time entity filtering is included with Cognos Analytics 11.2.2 which was released in March 2022.  To read about everything new in CA 11.2.2 please see this recent blog.  What’s New in Cognos Analytics 11.2.2 - Lodestar Solutions

General Filters

This filters examples are provided through IBM documentation.

  • show the top 3 products by sales
  • show sales where month is January
  • show products by sales where inventory > 500
  • show products by sales for California
  • show top <num> <column1> by <column2>

The following operators or modifiers can be used to filter.

  • In, for, if
  • Where, with
  • including
  • excluding
  • top percentage
  • bottom percentage
  • greater than
  • less than
  • top (post data aggregation)
  • bottom (post data aggregation)

Time Entity Filtering

The Cognos Analytics Assistant understands references to date, time, month, year, seasons, and holidays.  For the Assistant to apply time entity filters, the data set must have a Timestamp or Date/Time column.  The Assistant can filter based on relative time references (this, that, last, and next).  For example, show sales this Thursday.

The Assistant can use closed time intervals to filter.  A closed time interval has a start and end date. Example, show laptop sales for January 2021 or show sales from January 2021 to March 2021.

Other examples from IBM documentation are:

  • Show sales before last Thursday
  • Show sales in 2021
  • Show profit for December 31, 2021 at 10 pm
  • What is our expected revenue on the day before Labor Day?
  • Show me sales for camping equipment from June 1-5
  • Show me total sales last year
  • Show the average sales for past 3 weeks
  • Show the top 3 products sold on the third Monday after Christmas
  • show sales after next Christmas
  • Show October 2020 sales by product
  • Show sales after October 12, 2020
  • Show me sales up to a week ago
  • Show sales between last Monday and last Wednesday
  • Show sales every January and March
  • Show sales every January and every March
  • Show sales every single August
  • Show revenue in Canada for every Friday
  • Show sales each August and September and each Monday
  • Show sales by product each and every August
  • Show sales where transaction date is not January
  • Show sales where transaction date is not before January
  • Show sales where transaction date is not between January and March.

The following time-based filters are not supported:

  • References to time zones (ex. show sales for October 1 at 2 pm GMT)
  • Fractional periods (ex. half day or quarter month)
  • 2nd Tuesday
  • Weekly or monthly
  • Month over month, YTD, and QTD
  • Time periods such as Q1 and Q2 are not supported.

As you can see there are many ways to filter based on time, and If I were to take a guess the unsupported filters will be supported in due time by IBM.  I want to be clear I do not have any inside knowledge, but IBM has done an excellent job of continuing to update an already great product.

IBM has documentation on tips and best practices for using the Cognos Analytics Assistant that can be found here.  Check it out and take your knowledge to the next level.  Tips and best practices - IBM Documentation

Summary

As you can see the best place to start in Cognos Analytics may very well be the Cognos Analytics Assistant.  You gain great insights, start a dashboard, build a dashboard and so much more.  Simplifying using a few commands and natural language will get you started and wow your business.  If you need help upgrading to the latest version to take advantage of the time filtering or just general knowledge of the assistant please contact us at service@lodestarsolutions.com and we would be happy to talk with you. 

What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace 73 and 74

What's New In Planning Analyitcs Workspace 73 and 74 copy
What's New In Planning Analyitcs Workspace 73 and 74 copy
Written by Mike Bernaiche, April 7th 2022

Typically, once a month, IBM updates Planning Analytics Workspace.  In February version 73 was released and the most recent version is Planning Analytics Workspace 74, released in March 2022.  Both of these updates bring some new features, enhancements and depreciation of certain items.  Please read below for the full details of both recent releases.

Planning Analytics Workspace 73

  •  Depreciation notice for IBM Planning Analytics Workspace classic experience.  What does this mean?  This refers to the look and feel of Planning Analytics workspace prior to the 56 release from October 2020.  If you are on version 56 or higher you are using the “new experience,” and this will not affect you.  If you are on version 55 or before you will see a new look and feel when you upgrade and will not be able to revert back to the classic experience.  The “new experience will be standard starting in July 2022.
  • Creation of Modeling Books – Starting in version 73 you create models in the workbench area and will no longer be able to create modeling books.
  • Copy assets or folders to shared or personal folder – Now you can copy all assets to a different location.
  • Copy and paste images, links, pictures, webpages, and text directly into a workspace book.
  • View all and view less replaced by new menu.
  • Sort members, attributes, and properties in the new set editor.  To enable the new set editor in version 73 you will need to ask your administrator to turn on that feature in the admin area.  You can see the new set editor below.
New Set Editor
  •  New Process Editor – IBM is working to standardize all areas of Workspace and as you can see below they have updated the process editor to be more in line with other areas.  You can read more about all the changes to the process editor here -  New process editor - IBM Documentation.
New Process Editor

Planning Analytics Workspace 74

In the most recent update, Planning Analytics Workspace 74, IBM has added a number of great items.  You can see the list below.

  •  Windows 2019 Support (Local only) – For more information - Install Planning Analytics Workspace Local on Windows Server 2019 - IBM Documentation.
  • Add a view by dragging it from the data tree.  In the data tree, expand the cube that contains the data you want to use.  Select the view that you want to add and drag it on to a cube viewer (new or classic).  If you drag a view on a cube viewer that is not empty, you can either replace the existing view with the new one, or add the view as a new widget.
  • Apply text styles to axis labels in visualizations.
text styles to axis labels in visualizations
  •  Color pallets for conditional formatting now available.
  • Border lines and zebra stripes now available for explorations.  Find in properties.

Border Lines -

Border Lines In Planning Analytics Workspace 74

Zebra Stripes -

Zebra Stripes in Planning Analytics Workspace 74
  •  Updated Rules editor.  Like the process editor update in version 73, Planning Analytics Version 74 updates the rules editor to be more in line with the look and feel of other areas of Planning Analytics.

Summary

As you can read Planning Analytics version 73 and Planning Analytics version 74 added a number of new features and even Windows Server 2019 support.  To see a list of all new versions of Planning Analytics check this out. 

What's new in Planning Analytics Workspace - IBM Documentation

Did you know that some versions of Planning Analytics are reaching end of life?  Read more here - IBM Planning Analytics Versions Are End of Life - Lodestar Solutions.

To read all Lodestar blogs related to PA - Cognos TM1 Blogs by IBM Cognos Expert Consultants & Coaches (lodestarsolutions.com)

If you have any questions or need some help upgrading, please reach out to me at services@lodestarsolutions.com.

What’s New in Cognos Analytics 11.2.2

Explorations
Written by Mike Bernaiche, March 31st 2022

The latest update of Cognos Analytics 11.2.2 arrived in March 2022 and it brings several new enhancements.  IBM is on a good release schedule, typically every 3-4 months, which helps brings new features, enhancements to an already good product.  Below you will find a list of changes for Cognos Analytics 11.2.2 with links for more information. 

Assistant

The assistant now allows you to use more specific time entity filtering.  To use this the selected data must have a timestamp or date/time column.  For example, some potential items you can ask the assistant now include:

  • Show sales this Thursday
  • Show sales between last Monday and last Wednesday
  • Show me sales for camping equipment from June 1-5
  • What is the total income between Halloween and Christmas
  • Show sales for 2021
  • Show October 2021 sales by product

Dashboards

Dashboards now include the following enhancements:

  •  Select multiple objects by using mouse drag
  • Vertical and horizontal alignment of objects
  • Change the style on axis and legend text in visualizations
  • Better thumbnails and ability to rename pins
  • Set different colors for tabs in dashboards
  • Additional and enhanced widget properties

Stories

You now have an option to set a different background color for each of your scenes.

Explorations

One area of explorations that has needed some improvement for awhile is the natural language information provided on each data visualization.  As you can see below from the IBM screenshot, they have improved the readability in the details area.

Explorations

Also, you can now use box plot and radar visualizations in explorations.

Reporting

Several enhancements have been added to reporting in Cognos Analytics 11.2.2.

  •  New custom filter option in reports to ignore empty items.
  • Consistent experience with downloadable report formats in both classic and interactive viewer.
  • Consistency with the view of optional prompting in both classic and interactive viewer.

Mobile

Cognos Analytics Mobile now supports all authentication providers that are supported in Cognos Analytics.  View the complete list of providers here. Configuring authentication providers - IBM Documentation

Logs for Cognos Analytics Mobile in Cognos Analytics 11.2.2 are now found here. install_location\logs\cognosserver.log

Modeling

Improvements to modeling include:

  •  Faster metadata updates - To batch-update multiple properties, the option Refresh properties is added to the context menu for data modules, tables, columns, calculations, and folders.
  • Sort the data in data tree
Sort Data in Data Tree
  •  As of date – added to the dynamic date list in creating a relative time period.
As of date

Administration

For you administrators out there, IBM has added a number of new features and connections in the administration area.  For a complete list check out this link from IBM, Administration - IBM Documentation.  Also a few items have changed in the install process.  Here is a link to those changes. Installation and configuration - IBM Documentation

Summary

As you can read there have been a number of changes in Cognos Analytics 11.2.2.  I wouldn’t call this a major update, but I do think there are a number of items in here that make it worth installing.  The changes to the Assistant and Dashboards help you create and format.  The update to explorations makes it easier to understand your data and the ability to add an as of date in data modules is something I’m looking forward to putting into practice.

For a complete list of everything new in Cognos Analytics 11.2.2 check this link out.

Release 11.2.2 - March 2022 - IBM Documentation

If you are still on Cognos Analytics 11.1.7 and are not sure why you should update – check out these recent blogs from Lodestar Solutions. 

Cognos Analytics 11.2.1 – What’s New! - Lodestar Solutions

What’s New in Cognos Analytics 11.2 - Lodestar Solutions

Also, if you are interested in checking out Cognos Analytics Mobile - IBM Cognos Analytics Mobile Walkthrough - Lodestar Solutions.

Last, if you need to discuss or explore upgrading we have a number of great options to get you updated.  Reach out to me at services@lodestarsolutions.com to discuss.

P.S. For our clients who attend our next client only user group, I will have a session on Cognos Analytics 11.2.2 as well as the office connection to utilize Cognos and PowerPoint to make your presentation creation very efficient.  Our next user group will be May 24, 2022.

What You Need to Know When Moving IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics on the Cloud

What You Need to Know When Moving IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics on Cloud
Written by Heather L. Cole, March 23rd 2022

Are you wondering if you can move your IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics on a cloud?  Maybe your organization has an initiative to move all applications to Azure, AWS or IBM Cloud.  Or maybe you want IBM to do the work and maintain your environment to free up IT resources, so a Software as a Service (SAAS) would be better.  Today we will explain what you need to know when moving IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics on a cloud.

What are my cloud options for Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics TM1?

First you need to know that clouds come in many forms.  There are Software as a Service clouds, where the vendor maintains the environment, handles upgrades, backups…  And there are clouds where you are just outsourcing the hardware to Amazon, Microsoft or IBM and you use your licensing for the software and install the software in their clouds.  Under this cloud model, you will still need to handle upgrades, and patches.

IBM offers Cognos on Cloud as well as IBM Planning Analytics on Cloud which are their Software as a Service models.  They also allow you to put your regular licenses on a cloud that you maintain.

Migration to IBM’s Cognos on Cloud or IBM Planning Analytics on the Cloud

If you are looking to have IBM do most of the technical work to maintain your Planning Analytics or Cognos environment, you will want to explore their Software as a Service (SAAS) option.  IBM likes to change the names of their programs, but what you need to know is that IBM has a program that allows clients to migrate to the SaaS while maintaining their old environment for a period of time.  With the proper paperwork, they will give you dual entitlements for your on-premise and cloud subscription while you test and transition. 

Our older blog will help to provide you an overview, IBM’s Bridge to Cloud.

Timing of Migration to SaaS

Typically, you will want to explore moving to Cognos on Cloud or PA on cloud at least 3 months prior to your software support renewal to make it cost effective.  For details on cost and timing, email us at renewals@lodestarsolutions.com

Functionality Parity

Additionally, you will want to ensure that the IBM Cognos on Cloud or IBM Planning Analytics on Cloud has parity with your current environment and that all the functionality you need is in the SaaS version.  Previous cloud versions were missing some functionality.  For example, earlier versions of Cognos on Cloud only allowed for DQM (Dynamic Query Mode) and CQM was not available.  I will not go into the details on CQM and DQM here, but you should check out these IBM resources:

Can I move my existing IBM Cognos & TM1 Licensing to a 3rd Party Cloud?

Yes, the good news is IBM allows you to move your “perpetual” or on-premise licensing for IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics TM1, anywhere!  A perpetual IBM Planning Analytics or Cognos license is an asset you purchased that you could use indefinitely.  However, to get access to download the latest version to move to your new cloud, you must be current and pay annual IBM support to either IBM or a reseller like Lodestar Solutions.  If you would like a competitive support quote, email renewals@lodestarsolutions.com.

But the answer is yes, you may move your perpetual Cognos or Planning Analytics licensing to AWS, Azure, or even the IBM Public Cloud, which has made amazing progress!  (We love it!  More on that in a minute.)  However, when you move your Cognos licensing or TM1 to a new environment whether on cloud or something else you want to be careful. 

Caution on Cloud Migration

If you have licensing that includes Processor Value Units (PVUs), which is very common with Planning Analytics TM1 and often in larger Cognos clients, you must make sure the new environment does not expose you to failing an audit.  You MUST make sure you don’t exceed your PVU licensing when you move to the cloud.  For more information checkout our earlier blog, What the Heck is an IBM Cognos PVU and then email us so we can answer any questions at services@lodestarsolutions.com.

IBM Public Cloud

I mentioned we love the IBM public cloud, so I wanted to take a minute and explain.  A few years ago, IBM had Softlayer as their cloud and well, it was not great.  But IBM spent tons of money and invested in better technology and now their IBM Public Cloud rocks!  At Lodestar Solutions we use it for our demonstration environment and its fabulous.  Here’s IBM’s take on IBM Cloud versus Amazon Web Services (AWS)

FEI Webinar April 13th

Cloud Considerations in an Uncertain World

If you want to learn more and are a member of Financial Executives International (FEI), I will be hosting a webinar to FEI Members discussing IBM Cloud.  Cloud Considerations in an Uncertain World on April 13th 2-3pm Eastern.  In this webinar I will be joined by Hillary Hunter, CTO of IBM Cloud and Chris Doroszczyk, IBM Global Managing Director Financial Services Clients.  Members of FEI can register and get CPE credits for attending.

After the event I will write a blog with the highlights for non-FEI Members.

Summary

In summary you can move IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics on the cloud, but like anything, proper planning in advanced is highly recommended.  But you don’t have to go it alone.  Lodestar Solutions’ team of experts can guide you through what you need to know when moving IBM Cognos & TM1 licensing to a cloud.  Just reach out to us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

5 Tips for Business Analytics Professionals to Pay it Forward

5 Tips for Business Analytics Professionals to Pay it Forward
5 Tips for Business Analytics Professionals to Pay it Forward
Written by Heather L. Cole, March 17th 2022

As I find myself glued to the nightly news watching as the situation in the Ukraine unfolds, I experience a roller coaster of emotions.  Everything from grief, and anger to hope and inspiration.  I watch as people from Poland, Romania and around the world take action to help complete strangers.  And it makes me realize that the world needs us all to take action to “Pay it Forward”.  

Pay it Forward is when you do something kind for someone else and expect nothing in return.  You don’t need to wait for someone to do something nice for you.  You can start the chain today!  It does not have to be anything huge.  Let me give you an example of paying it forward that my husband and I did a while back.  We were walking our dog one evening and noticed our neighbor’s mailbox door was falling off.  Clearly it had been that way for quite a while.  So, we went home got a few screws and in the dark repaired it.  We did not leave a note.  We just walked away and giggled that they would wonder who fixed their mailbox.

You see, it’s the small daily actions we can take to better someone else’s life that can make an impact. So, I am challenging all of you… How can you make a difference and Pay It Forward?  Here are 5 Tips for Business Analytics Professionals to Pay it Forward.

Business Analytics Professionals

I believe we are in a unique situation as Business Analytics Professionals to Pay it Forward.  Most Business Analytics Professionals are lifelong learners.  We read, listen to podcasts, and take classes online.  Business Analytics Professionals are also problem solvers.  We have fine-tuned our brains to solve the most complex problems.  However, we often take our talents for granted.  I know I am guilty of thinking if I could figure it out, anyone could.  But what I have discovered is that we really do have unique gifts we can share with our co-workers, and organization. 

How to Pay it Forward

So, I thought I would share some ideas Business Analytics Professionals can use to step up, take action and make the world a better place.

1. Share What You Learn

Every day we learn something.  Maybe today you read a book, attended a training class or listened to a podcast.  But what do you do with the information?  Are you storing it away for the day you need it?  If so, stop being selfish.  There is most likely someone you know who would benefit from what you learned.  Maybe it’s a co-worker, friend or family member.  So, share it.  Draft a short email stating what you learned and why you think that person would benefit from it.  You could also include a link to the source. 

I have a rule.  Every time I read a book, attend a conference, or discover something, I feel I owe it to the world to pass it on.  You have probably seen my Linkedin book reviews, which admittedly I need to start doing more of.  Linkedin is a great place to share what you learned. Let’s connect on Linkedin.  I would love to see what you are learning. 

2. There Must Be a Better Way

Because Business Analytics Professionals have an inquisitive mind, we often think to ourselves, “There must be a better way.”  Well, most of the time there is.  So, when you have this thought put it down in a journal or list and challenge yourself to try to find a better way.  Then share it with your company.

For example, when I work with our IBM Analytics clients, I am always amazed at how much time many organizations wasted recreating reports in Power Point when there are ways to automate and have your Cognos reports link to a Power Point that can be refreshed on demand.  Here’s an old video on Cognos and Power Point integration.

Challenge: create a list of items that make you think, “There must be a better way.”

3. Offer to Help Automate

Did you know one way to increase your influence and persuasion according to the expert Dr. Robert Cialdini is to leverage the principle of reciprocity.  Reciprocity is his first principle of persuasion, and it states that human beings are wired to return favors and pay back debts.  For more information on Cialdini and influence check out this blog, How to Use Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Persuasion to Boost Conversions. 

So, imagine there is a team member that every month has to grab data from many sources and put it in Excel.  Then they spend tons of time validating and formatting the data for distribution.    What if you were able to work with them and automate the process with either IBM Planning Analytics or Cognos? 

Challenge:  Find one person that is dealing with manual processes you can help automate.

4. Create Training Videos

Business Analytics Professionals are great at learning and figuring out technology but not everyone in your organization is wired like us.  So, help others feel confident in the use of data and analytics by creating simple training videos that will help them feel more confident.  Creating training videos is simple to do with tools like Camtasia by Tech Smith.  Here’s a blog we have on the topic. Leverage Videos for BI Training of End User?

Challenge:  Identify 3 questions that you commonly get from end users and create videos to answer them.

5. Be a Little More Patient & Smile

The final way we can pay it forward is simple.  It’s something you can implement immediately.  When you are interacting with people just be a little more patient and smile.  Remember we don’t all learn at the same speed.  Some of us are a little slower.  I can tell you from personal experience, I did not learn to read until I was 10, that when you are struggling to learn the person that is patient with you is a person you will appreciate for a long time.  So slow down, be patient and smile.

Challenge:  Smile More and be Patient today and every day.

Let’s Connect So We Can Pay it Forward

I hope these 5 tips for Business Analytics Professionals to Pay it Forward have inspired you.  I too want to Pay It Forward.  So, if you have questions on IBM Analytics, Planning Analytics, Cognos, IBM Licensing, Training or Upgrades, contact us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com.  We are here to help.

5 Reasons People Object to Upgrading Cognos

5 Reasons People Object to Upgrading Cognos
5 Reasons People Object to Upgrading Cognos
Written by Heather L. Cole, March 9th 2022

Are you trying to get funding for a Cognos or IBM Planning Analytics upgrade?  Maybe you want to get some TM1 or Cognos Training and need to ask for funding.  Did you know there are 5 reasons people object to upgrading?  That’s right only five main reasons.  So today I thought I would walk you through the primary objections and relate it to upgrading and expanding your usage of Cognos and Planning Analytics. 

First let me say I did not create this list.  Bari Baumgardner, a very successful businesswomen was presenting at a conference I attended this weekend hosted by Dean Graziosi and Tony Robbins.  The conference is really designed for the coaching industry.  However, the nuggets of information are very applicable to the world of Business Analytics.  So, if you are an employee running a Cognos or IBM Planning Analytics upgrade, or a consultant you will want to understand and learn to overcome the 5 reasons people object to upgrading.  They are time, money, social support, fear, and doubt.

1. Time -

The most common objection to upgrading your Cognos, IBM Planning Analytics or other solution is time.  As a firm specializing in upgrading clients to the latest business analytics technology we often hear, “We don’t have time.”  But is that really true? 

The thing about time is you never think you have enough, and you can never get it back.  It’s the scarcest resource.  I love Bill Gates’ quote:

"We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.  Don't let yourself be lulled into inaction."

But let’s talk about your time, and the time of your team.  How valuable is it?  If you could invest a couple months of focused work that would eliminate a number of redundant monthly tasks, would you do it?  Imagine automating reporting processes and empowering end users to leverage the data and analytics you provide!  What if you could help create a culture shift so everyone in the organization explored the data and made game changing decisions to help the company accomplish their goals.

How long have you been trying to deliver self-service to your users?  If it’s been a long time, we need to talk.  (See our blog, Find More Time for Analytics Projects)

There are steps you can take that can turn the objection on time into the very reason you can’t wait any longer to upgrade and modernize your Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics environments.  Our clients that have upgraded and modernized their Planning Analytics and Cognos deployments all have said the same thing, “Why did we wait so long?”  To schedule a chat email us at services@lodestarsolutions.com.

2. Money -

The second objection to upgrading we hear is we don’t have any budget.  I fully understand the need to have funding, but what if I told you that many CFO’s have a magic stash of money.  And that when they see a project that will have a significant return on the investment and help them accomplish their strategic goals, they open the money bag and fund the project.  Seriously, I have seen it many times! 

But the secret is that they must see the value.  If you are telling them you need to upgrade to get on a supported version, that probably is not compelling enough.  We need to present a reason that is more important to them. 

Executives are very focused on making or saving money and achieving their strategic goals. 

Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics are amazing tools that when deployed correctly can have a huge impact on the success of the company and the achievement of strategic goals.  The problem is that there are not enough analytic professionals that appreciate the massive impact they can have by delivering the latest IBM solutions to their executives.  When the right information is put in the right hands for better decision-making it will make the company more money. 

So, again.  The objection of not having money is exactly the reason why you must act NOW to upgrade and empower your teams with data.  You know your competition is….

See our blog Secrets to Getting Funding for Your Cognos Projects.

3. Internal Support -

The third objection I hear as an analytics coach to executives and their teams is that they don’t have enough internal support.  Maybe IT doesn’t support your IBM Planning Analytics upgrade, or you have an executive that is saying we should move everything to Microsoft.  Well, you are not alone.  There are other clients that have this struggle.  However, with the correct internal influence and that art of persuasion you can build the support you need.

Lodestar Solutions is happy to have a chat with you to strategize how to gain the support you need.  Email us at services@lodestarsolutions.com.  It all begins with helping others see the vision you have as to the role of data and analytics in achieving strategic goals.

4. Fear -

The fourth objection to upgrading is fear.  Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection fear of change… Fear is almost always secretly lurking in the background. 

Try this little exercise to help overcome hidden fears.  Write down the worst-case scenario.  Maybe you ask for funding and get rejected.  Maybe you get everyone to support the project but don’t deliver it on time….  Write down every possible bad outcome.

Now write down what you would do if that bad thing happened and what you would have learned from the experience.  Finally write down how you will feel 2 years from now when you are in the exact same place you are now. 

You see people don’t regret acting if even if they don’t succeed.  Successful people don’t have failures; they have learning experiences.  

Theodore Roosevelt

5. Doubt -

The final objection is doubt.  You might think that doubt and fear are the same thing, but I believe they are different.  Doubt is that little voice that says, you aren’t good enough.  Who do you think you are believing you can have a massive impact on the company’s profits?  You don’t even really know how to use the software.  Have you ever heard that voice? 

I have.  She gets really loud in my head at times.  But you know what I discovered?  I never hear the voice when I am binge watching Netflix.  Nope.  She’s silent.  But when I am considering taking a bold move, making a big impact or trying something outside my comfort zone, poof there she is. 

Did you know it has a name?  Imposter Syndrome.  See this Forbes article Imposter Syndrome In Your Business And How To Overcome It

What I have learned is that when that voice pops up, it’s GAME ON!  Something amazing maybe even life changing is about to happen if I just lean in and surround myself with people that will be my cheerleaders. 

But for some of you, you don’t have cheerleaders.  If that’s your case, let’s talk.  The Lodestar Solutions community is full of amazing minds that can help cheer you to success.  Email Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Summary

Now you know the 5 reasons people object to upgrading their Cognos and/or Planning Analytics are time, money, social support, fear, and doubt.  Don’t let these objections stop you from being amazing at your job!  Overcome these objections and lead your organization to analytic success.  The first step can start today.  Just email us at services@lodestarsolutions.com and we can chat about your unique situation.  You were born to make an impact.  Start now.

X