November 12th, 2020
The world has changed, and it is never going back! A year ago we were able to attend the IBM Analytics event in Miami, listen to live Cognos Analytics and Cognos Planning Analytics/TM1 user success stories and network with other IBM Cognos users over a beer. Not anymore, at least not for a while. But Lodestar Solutions has decided to pivot. We learned five tips to hosting a virtual IBM Cognos and TM1 User Group, and we have no intention to return to in person user groups!
Why Virtual Cognos User Groups are Better Than in Person
On November 11, 2020 we hosted a new format for our Lodestar Solutions, Virtual IBM Cognos and TM1 User Group and it was fabulous! Our clients and team members loved it so much, we are not going back to in person group for three reasons: time, geography and flexibility.
Saving Time with a Cognos User Group
We value our Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics TM1 Administrators’ time. In the past we would host events in a main city like Chicago and attendees would have to travel an hour to get to the site and an hour home. We would do our best to make the session of interest but sometimes, there were sessions that only applied to a subset of the population.
With the virtual event we were able to tell the attendees the topics, why they should care or how it impacts them. If the topic did not apply to them, they were able to do other things and return for the next session.
Cognos User Group Geography
Our clients are all over the US and some internationally. In the past we could not serve all our clients, so we focused our user groups on locations with a large cluster of clients. We can now serve our IBM Cognos users even in the most geographically remote locations.
Cognos User Group Flexibility
Most IBM Cognos BI or TM1 Administrators are very busy and often manage multiple systems, not just IBM. It is not uncommon for them to get the emergency email or text and they must drop everything. Lodestar Solutions understands our client’s needs, and so we prerecorded our session and let everyone know if they had to drop off, they could come back and watch the part they missed. Cognos Administrators loved this feature and we discovered that they would leave, address the issue and return. I believe that if we had not let them know they could watch what they missed; they probably would not have returned for the Q&A sessions.
Five Tips to Hosting a Successful Virtual IBM Cognos & TM1 User Group
We appreciate that there have been local Cognos BI and TM1 user groups all over the world. Lodestar Solutions also understands that many IBM Analytics User Groups have been forced to suspend their meetings and look for another way. So, we thought we would share what we did and how to host a successful Virtual IBM Cognos and TM1 User group.
1. Cognos Content in Small Bites
The first thing is to plan your content in small bite size chunks, no more than 30-45 minutes per session. Once you have a list of your topics and speakers you will want to organize your agenda in a logical order. For our Lodestar User Group, we hosted all the Planning Analytics/ TM1 sessions first, followed by TM1 Technical. Then we moved into BI Technical, followed by other Cognos Analytics sessions. This allowed people to join when the content applied to them.
2. Prerecord the Sessions
We prerecorded the sessions and hosted them on our training site, which is Kajabi. You could put them on YouTube as well. The reason we prerecorded is we wanted to ensure there were no technical issues with a presenter’s internet. We were also able to edit the videos before posting. We use Camtasia for editing. You can get a free trial at here.
3. Zoom for Introductions and Q&A
We used Zoom for our user group. All attendees joined by Zoom, then we guided them to our training portal where our sessions where prerecorded. By zooming we were able to go on camera to create connections during our introductions and were able to answer questions as they came up about connecting to the sessions. After each session they returned to Zoom for a live question and answer session with the presenter.
4. Networking Session with Breakout Rooms
To further connections with our community we scheduled networking sessions after each topic area like Planning Analytics. Through Zoom we divided all the attendees into breakout rooms and gave them a series of short questions to discuss with the group. This allowed Cognos power users to connect with other power users they may never have met. We also assigned a moderator to each room to ensure everyone had a chance to speak. Our Cognos clients loved the breakout rooms and said they wish they had more of them. Not sure how to use breakout rooms? Check out this blog.
5. User Success Story Sessions
To add more value, we wanted to have a couple clients share their success stories. But we know our clients do not have a lot of time to prepare a slide deck and presentation, so we made it easy. We sent our Client Presenters a list of interview questions. We then scheduled a time to record a zoom session where we asked the questions. It was in an interview format. The attendees loved hearing the stories and seeing the interaction. The feedback was it was a lot better than a boring power point. We were able to edit the interviews to get them down to the time allotted and upload them as a session on our portal.
For More Information
So, are you looking to join a Cognos Analytics BI or Cognos Planning Analytics User Group?
For more information on the Lodestar Solutions Client User group, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Another good resource for finding user groups is on the IBM Community site. Another option to check out for Cognos groups is meetup.com.
If you are looking to organize an IBM User Group, we recommend you follow our Five Tips to Hosting a Virtual IBM Cognos and TM1 User Group so you can ensure success for your event.