Cognos Business Intelligence Top 10 Features

It seems during this time every year that top ten lists are very prevalent; top ten movies, songs or stories of the year.  Based on that theme, here is my list of the top ten features of Cognos Business Intelligence 10.2.1 or Cognos Express 10.2:

10.          Support for more big data platforms including Amazon Web Services, Cloudera and Hortonworks

9.            New and improved licensing model for Cognos Express users – much easier for the administrator to understand and price out

8.            Relative time support for aggregation in Dynamic Cubes

7.            Compression for Active Reports, which helps create a smaller more efficient .MHT file for use offline

6.            Shared sets between reports – users can create sets (top 10 for instance) of data and use them on new reports without creating the set again

5.            Performance improvements on most modules

4.            Score carding features in Cognos Express using TM1 metrics

3.            The ability to map “like” items in Workspace

2.            Updated Cognos Mobile app that is quicker, with great samples to show the power of RAVE and visualizations

1.            Visualizations!  These powerful, presentation ready, interactive charts and maps are really incredible!

 

And there you have it…the most important features to Cognos Business Intelligence to finish out the year. Feel free to contact us at Sales@lodestarsolution.com for more information or visit the IBM website HERE.

Use Cognos Active Reports with RAVE

Are you?  If not, why not?  Active reports, especially with the new RAVE engine in version 10.2.1, are absolutely stunning and are well worth using.  You not only get these highly interactive reports, but now with RAVE, you get stunning visual reports that are consumed offline!  Yes, I said offline. No need to be connected to your Cognos BI server!  So check out Cognos Active Reports with RAVE.

Active Reports and RAVE

RAVE stands for Rapidly Adaptive Visualization Engine. There are about 30 or so of these visualIzations available through Analyticszone.com. You simply go to Analytics Zone and choose what visualizations you want to download. Then install them through the IBM Cognos Administration console.  Once downloaded and installed, they are available through Report Studio and are used in the same manner as the other Active Reports Toolbook items.

I don't believe nearly enough people are taking advantage or the power of these reports.  Executives and high level managers (especially those on the go) love being able to interact with data and make quick decisions with these reports. Try it!  Build one and provide it to your manager and see what happens! Email us with your success stories at Sales@LodestarSolutions.com for more information.

What’s new in IBM Cognos BI 10.2.1?

IBM Cognos BI 10.2.1 was released on June 11, 2013.  In this release, IBM developers focused on three areas:  visualization, performance and big data.

Visualization

“A picture paints a thousand insights.”  Well-developed charts and visuals allow end users to quickly spot trends and/or issues.  IBM’s RAVE (Rapidly Adaptive Visualization Engine) significantly improves the consumer’s mobile and dashboard experiences with more flexible, adaptive and interactive visuals. Cognos 10.2.1 RAVE technology also enhances existing charting options and includes new and innovated charts.  Additionally, new charts are continuously being added and are available for download from AnalyticsZone.com.

Performance

Larger data sets that empower end users to query at will have their advantages, but can be a performance killer.  IBM developers recognized that performance is an important factor in end user adoption and a BI initiative’s success.  By tackling bottleneck issues in Active Reports, Bursting, and Dynamic Cubes they were able to improve performance on average by 40% over version 10.2.

  • Dynamic cube, the OLAP solution released in 10.2, is now 2 times faster.  10.2.1 brings reductions in required memory for aggregate caches and improved aggregate selection logic that chooses the aggregate with the lowest query cost.
  • Active Reports in 10.2.1 execute 5 times faster than 10.2.  This includes faster loading in browsers, mobile devices, and Cognos Connection.  Active Reports now have a smaller footprint due to better use of compression and engine optimization.  Additional authors can now have 10 times more data in Active Reports.
  • Bursted reports created in Report Studio 10.2.1 use hardware resources more efficiently by allowing distribution across all report servers and by optimizing the execution of batch reports.

Big Data

Buzz phrase of the year: “BIG DATA.”  Big data is inherently problematic from how to properly capture, organize, maintain, store, and analyze it.  Companies want the ability to look at the most complete data set possible to find correlations, spot trends, and make real time decisions.

Cognos BI 10.2.1 now has Big SQL support extended to:

  • IBM InfoSphere® BigInsights™ V2.1
  • Hive support for Apache Hive version 0.8 or version 0.9
  • SAP HANA
  • Cloudera
  • Hortonworks
  • Amazon Elastic MapReduce

In addition to visualization, performance and big data enhancements, IBM Cognos Mobile has some cool and important new features, including the ability to connect to multiple servers and use auto server configuration, the ability to zoom in on Active reports and use touch-friendly HTML5 prompts, and report fidelity for consistent viewing.

Other Cognos BI applications and administrative functions were also enhanced and, as we learn more about Cognos 10.2.1, we will surely bring them to your attention.

Take Reports Offline with Cognos Active Reports

So, you are sitting on a plane or somewhere without access to the internet or your company’s servers and you really need to verify some numbers for a meeting you have soon.  What do you do? With Cognos Active Reports, you can view a report offline with all of the typical interaction you have come to love with your Cognos reports!

So what are Cognos Active Reports?  An Active Report is an interactive, intuitive stand-alone report built in Report Studio with the ability to be highly formatted.  These reports can be consumed on your laptop or even your iPad.  The Report Studio Active Report template offers a richer set of controls for the experienced professional report author to build interactive offline dashboards/reports for the business.  Utilizing the Active Report functions and controls, you can create very simple to the most complex dashboards.  Then, saving them as a .MHT allows the end user to take them offline and make decisions.  You can also schedule and burst the applications to your users for high efficiency.  You can even take existing reports and convert them to Active Reports, but be careful once they are converted. They can’t be converted back.

So now you’re asking, “What are the benefits of using Active Reports?”  Simply put, you save time, improve user satisfaction and improve productivity!  I believe that any company utilizing business intelligence software would consider these three things a must have!

Check out www.lodestarsolutions.com/Events.html for a list of our free webinar offerings, including a 1 hour introduction to Cognos Active Reports, where we will show you how to build a couple of simple reports.

IBM Cognos Active Reports Known Issues

​IBM Cognos Active Reports Known Issues

I grew up on Long Island in New York, so I have had my share of dreary winter months. Moving to the Gulf coast of Florida seemed to be the answer to my utter aversion to cold weather. I still remember my first Florida winter twenty years ago. I enjoyed swimming in the Gulf through most of that December. Then, right before the holidays, the temperatures dipped down to nearly the freezing point. Even our sunny Florida weather has its limitations. IBM Active Reports is an excellent solution for delivering off line reports to end users on the go. However, it too has its limitations. Following are issues that end users have run up against while using Active Reports.

active reports

1. Very slow performance with large data sets

Reason: Active Reports renders the data decks at runtime, encapsulates them into an MHT file, and then sends that file out.

Suggestions: use Active Reports only for a small amount of data. The queries assigned to the data deck should contain only the required data items. Apply query filters to return only values of interest from the data items in the data deck.

2. Creating an interactive dashboard with Active Reports performance is very slow

Reason: Active Reports can be run interactively from within Cognos Connection, but performance is very slow, as the report is run to produce the MHT file and then the MHT file is opened in the web browser.

Suggestion: For Interactive Dashboards, use Business Insight Advanced instead of Active Reports.

3. Report never appears when opening from Cognos Connection

Reason: A dialog box opens every time a report is run from Cognos Connection giving the option to open or save the report. Note, some users find this box annoying. Users choosing open instead of save have reported the problem of the report never appearing.

Suggestions: Choose save from the dialog box and then open the saved output in Cognos Connection. Instead of running Active Reports from Cognos Connection to create the effect of an Interactive Dashboard, use Business Insight Advanced. IBM addressed issues with running Active Reports in Cognos Connection with version 10.2.

4. Cannot export to Excel format

Reason: Active Reports can only export to MHT, which means it is an archive with design & layout information and the data itself saved into one file.

Suggestion: Active Reports are not designed to be exported into Excel. Instead, use Event Studio to attach the Excel output from the original, unconverted report in the same email as the Active Report.

5. Cannot use drill through functionality; does not work when Active Reports are viewed off line

Reason: Drill through for Active Reports cannot work, unless the report is viewed through a Cognos server. The drill through feature requires a connection back to the Cognos server to run the child report. Expecting drill through to work while disconnected would require a lot more data
to be downloaded. Every child report would have to also be run for all data and then downloaded.

Suggestion: Drill up and down is available while disconnected because all that data has already been
downloaded.

6. Unable to reopen Active Report saved in web browser

Reason: Saving an active report in a browser creates a new MHT file. It is a different file from the original MHT file so reopening will open a different file.

Suggestion: When receiving a report in email, first save the report onto your computer and then open the saved MHT file.

7. Active Reports does not open in web browser

Suggestions: Check Internet option security settings. Click Trusted sites and then click Sites. In the Add this website to the zone box, type the IBM Cognos BI server's domain. Click Custom level. In the Scripting section, disable XSS filter. Check what the computer’s local system/browser settings are set to do for MHT files.

Contact Sales@LodestarSolutions.com for more information.

We hope you found this blog useful!  To learn what is new in Cognos 11 including active reports check out this blog by clicking here.

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