Written by Heather L. Cole, March 1st, 2023
The number one question I get asked from our IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics customers is, “How can we increase end user adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics?” One client made me laugh when they asked, “How do you control spreadsheet anarchy within an organization? The ongoing trend by some is to grab large amounts of data from multiple published data sources and spin up highly customized versions of existing reports or parts of other reports.” Spreadsheet Anarchy, what a great way to describe it. It’s time to stop spreadsheet anarchy and increase end user adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics.
Today I’ll share a few secrets to increasing end user adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics.
Listen to End Users Challenges
The first step to solving spreadsheet anarchy is to understand why end users are not using the tools you are providing. When you stop telling them to use Cognos or Planning Analytics and start listening to their challenges and why they feel the tools are not meeting their needs, you will discover the cause. In our experience the cause is one or more of the following:
- the end users were not properly trained on Cognos or Planning Analytics.
- clients are on an outdated release and the functionality they seek is in a new release.
- the data they seek has not been incorporated into Cognos or Planning Analytics.
- functionality has been restricted by administrators.
Share the WHY!
After you listen to their challenges and why they are using spreadsheets, it’s important to share the WHY. Why is it important that they use the tools you provide? Is it that you want to ensure everyone is working from the validated and secured data? If so, share what happens when decisions are made on bad data. Is it to eliminate the errors that spreadsheets are prone to having? We recommend you create a list of why you need your users to standardize and make sure your team knows how to communicate the message.
Engage Users in The Creation (WORKSHOPS)
It’s been long proven that people support and embrace what they create. A fast way to increase end user adoption is to engage end users in the design and development of the solution. I know you may be thinking whoa that would be nuts, they don’t know how to create reports or models. But hear me out, you don’t need them to create the Cognos reports or Planning Analytics models, you need to let them discuss the business goals they are tasked with achieving and the challenges they are facing. The best way to do this is by hosting workshops. Workshops can be held live, in person, or virtually via zoom. If you are not familiar with workshops check out or blog on Discovering Requirements.
Continuous Training of New Functionality
The next step to increase end user adoption of analytics is to provide continuous training. Do you see that? CONTINUOUS! IBM keeps adding new functionality to the software and end users typically only really learn what they need to use at the time. So, it’s important to provide continuous training and workshop opportunities for your end users. Consider building a training program internally. If you need help with training, here’s a link to how Lodestar Solutions can help.
IBM Infusing AI & Improve Self Reliance
IBM has done a great job of working to help increase end user adoption of Cognos and Planning Analytics as well. They have done this in a number of ways.
Better In Application Help
Do you remember the day of the Red Books? They were guides to help you use Cognos. Or maybe you purchased the big, IBM Cognos TM1 The official Guide, and had it on your desk. Lugging that around was a good workout.
Today IBM has incorporated the details you need into their in application help and search. This empowers end users to try new things and feel more confident using the solutions.
Natural Language Processing (NLP)
IBM has incorporated NLP capabilities in Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics, which enables users to ask questions in natural language (normal words) and get answers in a human-like response. This allows for more intuitive and user-friendly interactions with the software.
One of the coolest things we are seeing from IBM is the integration of predictive analytics capabilities into Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics. This allows users to forecast trends and identify patterns in data. This is especially useful for Planning Analytics users that want to leverage the data to forecast out the future. The result is end users can make more informed decisions and optimize their business strategies.
Did you notice IBM changed the name of their products again? Cognos is now IBM Cognos Analytics with Watson, and TM1 became Planning Analytics, and is now IBM Planning Analytics with Watson. Well, it was not just the marketing team being creative. IBM has incorporated cognitive computing and Watson technologies into Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics. This includes the use of machine learning algorithms and other advanced analytics techniques to automate data analysis and decision-making processes.
IBM has introduced greater automation capabilities in Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics, which allows for the automation of routine data tasks such as data preparation, cleansing, and transformation. Automation is the key to increasing productivity, so look at where you are spending time doing repetitive tasks and see if you can automate it. This will give you time to focus on more complex data analysis and strategic decision-making. (Cognos Automation)
For Cognos users the IBM Software Development Kit (SDK) is used to automate many tasks. But what a lot of users don’t know is IBM includes the Cognos SDK in the Admin license. This has not always been the case. You used to need to buy a separate license. Here’s our very old blog, where we informed everyone of this change.
We can all agree it’s time to stop spreadsheet anarchy and increase end user adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics. The first step is to create a Plan that includes engaging with your end users. I am a huge fan of workshops because they can align the teams and build camaraderie even if done virtually. Keep an eye out, Lodestar will be sharing more on hosting workshops soon.
If you are on an old release of Planning Analytics or Cognos, it’s probably time to upgrade. Lodestar solutions can help you plan your upgrade and provide technical services and training for your team. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.