Cognos Analytics Data Sets Explained

Cognos Analytics Data Flow
Written December 3rd, 2020 by Mike Bernaiche 
Recently, I was asked several questions about Cognos Analytics Data Sets.  Candidly, I haven’t used them much as I was concentrating more on Data Modules.  I decided to spend some time on Cognos Analytics Data Sets and what I found was eye opening and exciting.  My knowledge gain is now your knowledge gain.  I have put everything I have learned into the summary below.  I have also created a quick flow chart to help explain the flow of data in Cognos Analytics.
Cognos Analytics Data Flow

What are Cognos Analytics Data Sets?

In short, Cognos Analytics Data Sets are a set of data grouped together of items that you use frequently.  If you look at the above chart, think of the biggest group of data being in the data warehouse.  Next you need to chunk that down to tables and fields that mean the most to you.  Maybe you are in sales and you do not have a use for inventory, or bill or material information.  You can either create a Framework Manager package or a Data Module to grab only that info that means the most to you.  Now, think about all the data that still resides in the sales tables that you have created your package or Data Module.  Do you really need everything?  Most likely no.  By creating a data set you can shrink down the still large chunk of data to just the fields that you need for a particular report or dashboard.  What does all this mean?  Speed, efficiency, ease of use, etc.

How Do I Create Cognos Analytics Data Sets?

The process to create Cognos Analytics Data Sets is fairly easy and straight forward.

1. Navigate to a package or Data Module 
2. Click the context menu (the 3 dots when you hover over the package or data module)
3. Select “Create Data Set”

You should see something similar to the below: 

How to Create Cognos Analytics Data Sets

4. NOTE - if using a relational package or Data Module make sure the “Summarize detailed values, suppressing duplicates, for relational data sources" is checked. 
5. Drag to the data pane the items you want in your data set.  My advice – start from the result.  What do you want in your dashboard or report?  Once you know that, you will understand what items you need to bring into the data set.
6. Change view to page preview for results with data.

Page Preview

7. You can add filters or sorting by using the tool bar directly on top of the data.
8. Validate the report by clicking the 3 dots to the upper right of the screen.
9. Save. 

Here is a link to IBM outlining these steps above. 

Important Information about Cognos Analytics Data Sets

  1. When you start to use your data set you may see a message about refreshing the data.  All you need to do is click the reload or refresh button located at the 3 dots in either the dashboard, report or by hovering over the data set wherever it is saved.
  2. Remember data sets is like an extraction from your data source.  You will need to either manual refresh or schedule the refresh, so you have the latest data.
  3. Schedule data sets refresh
  • Click the 3 dots and enter the properties of your data set.
  • Click schedule tab
  • Set your schedule for data refresh.  If your data warehouse rebuilds nightly then scheduling this refresh for 1 time per day (early morning) is sufficient.  If you need more real time data, you can schedule down the minute.  (Note – more refreshes will consume resources on your server.  Make sure you set your schedule accordingly).
  • Make sure your schedule is enabled.  You can disable at any time.
Data Sets Schedule


Now that you have created a data set you can use it in dashboards or reports like any other source.  See my sample below.

Sample Data Set

Data sets are a great way to shrink the amount of data you need to a specific set and make the entire process very fast and efficient.  Are Cognos Analytics Data Sets for every situation?  No.  But for a lot of items, I would highly suggest creating a data set and watching how fast and efficient everything is.  You can secure data sets like other data, you can create navigation paths to have drill up and down.  There is even the option to turn your data set into a data module and use relative time.  I think the key take away is to model the data that makes the most sense to you.  Gone are the days of overwhelming data tables and fields. 

For more information on all things Cognos Analytics check out our blogs here

To see our YouTube video on Data Sets click here

For any question please reach out to me at