Top Ten Cognos and Planning Analytics Features in 2022

Top 10 Cognos and Planning Analytics Features in 2022
Top 10 Cognos and Planning Analytics Features in 2022
Written by Mike Bernaiche, November 11th 2022

It is that time of year where you start to see top ten lists of different things.  I thought it would be a good idea to highlight some of my favorite things about Cognos and Planning Analytics in one place and thus provide you my top ten features in Cognos and Planning Analytics in 2022.  Without further delay….  Here are my top ten features in Cognos and Planning Analytics for 2022!

Favorite Features 10 to 7

10. Learn Panel in Cognos and Planning Analytics.  IBM spent considerable resources on the quality and usefulness of documentation on both products.  The learn panel is intuitive, gets you answers quickly and even suggests things to view as you look something up.  It includes webpages, videos, tutorials, and documents.  Let’s say you need to figure out a rule in Planning Analytics or how to set up bursting in Cognos Analytics.  Simply start typing in the learn panel and watch the magic happen.  As you can see below, the results speak for themselves. You can even click on the forum area to get even greater info for a broad user base.

Learn Panel
Learn Panel

9. Insights in Visualization using Analytics Panel in Cognos Analytics.  Insights in visualizations provide analytic insights that can help users to detect and validate any important relationships and meaningful differences based on the data that is presented by the visualization.  The type of insights depends on the displayed data by the visualization.  Available types of insights are Average, Predictive strength, Meaningful Differences, Fit Line, and Most Frequent.  Average provides the mean of the displayed summaries, and most frequent the category or category that appears most often in the data.  The rest of the insights depend on more advanced analytics and statistical tests.  The goal is to provide reliable information that you can use for an enhanced description of the viewed data and discovery of any relationships that are expected to be found in the population that is represented by this data.  This area is new to Cognos Analytics 11.2.3 and I would expect IBM to continue to enhance this area in future releases.

Insights in Visualization using Analytics Panel

8. Explorations in Cognos Analytics.  Explore is a flexible workspace where you can discover and analyze data.  You can also explore an existing visualization from a dashboard or story, uncover hidden relationships and identify patterns that turn your data into insights.  Correlated insights are represented by a green icon with a number on the x-axis, y-axis, or the title of a chart.  Ok that was the technical speak.  Now for my thoughts.  At first, I didn’t really get why explorations could be powerful or why you would even use it.  After spending some time really getting to understand how explorations can work and how much effort IBM has put into improving them, I’m a big fan.  Simple case, select 2 points of your data and let the system tell you what to start to look at.  Pin that information and quickly use it in a dashboard.  Speaking of pins.  This is 8.1 of my favorite things in Cognos Analytics.  Pinning visualizations allows you to save information and use it across Cognos Analytics in a quick and efficient way.

Explorations in Cognos Analytics
Explorations in Cognos Analytics

7. Planning Analytics for Excel (PAFe) in Planning Analytics.  Everyone loves Excel!  With PAfe you can have an excel experience in Planning Analytics while exploring data, reporting or inputting data.  You can create several different items in PAFe.

  •  Explorations – slice and dice your data
  • Static – Create a report that is disconnected from the PA database and send to anyone
  • Dynamic – Create presentation style reports and also create data input files
  • Custom – Start from scratch and build what you want.

By the way, whatever you create in PAFe, you can publish to Planning Analytics Workspace

Planning Analytics for Excel
Planning Analytics for Excel

Favorite Features 6 to 4

6. Data Models and Data Sets in Cognos Analytics.  You can use data modeling in Cognos Analytics to fuse together many sources of data, including relational databases, Hadoop-based technologies, Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, text files, and so on.  Using these sources, a data module is created that can then be used in reports, dashboards, or explorations.  Data sets are customized collections of data items that you use frequently.  As you make updates to the data set, the dashboards, stories, or explorations that use that data set are also updated the next time you run them.  You can create data sets from packages or data modules, and use as sources to create dashboards, stories, explorations, and data modules.

Data Models and Data Sets in Cognos Analytics

5. Navigation Paths and Relative Time in Cognos Analytics.  To expand on your Dashboards and Reports using data models and data sets, use navigation paths and relative time.

  • Navigation Paths – provide a drill up and down feature to your data.  In data models or dashboards simply click on the navigation path area and create your drill path.  Go from Country, to State, to City with clicks of a button in your data and visualizations.
  • Relative Time – with a few clicks of a button create YTD, QTD, MTD, last month, current month and so many more relative time filters in your data to be used across Cognos.
Navigation Paths and Relative Time in Cognos Analytics
Navigation Paths and Relative Time in Cognos Analytics

4. Dashboards in Cognos Analytics.  Dashboards in Cognos Analytics has come a long way over time and especially in the last year.  First, with Cognos Analytics version 11.2.1 the speed to render improved signficantly.  IBM has added in a ton of formatting enhancmenets from colors, fonts and the like.  There are many new visualizations that compete with other BI products available and you can now export the dashboard to a PDF document.  All things considered I believe Cognos Analytics dashboards compete and exceed any BI product available!

Dashboards in Cognos Analytics

The Top 3 Features in Cognos and Planning Analytics for 2022

3. Applications and Plans in Planning Analytics.  Applications and Plans have seen significant enhancements in 2022.  Honestly, Planning Analytics Workspace has improved so much that it is imperative you own it and use it.  More on that shortly.  Back to application and plans.  I wrote a detailed blog on everything new in applications and plans and you can find that here.   Everything written in the blog above is now available as of Planning Analytics Workspace 82 (the most recent version).  In short if you haven’t checked out applications and plans in Planning Analytics, do so now!

Applications and Plans in Planning Analytics

2. AI Assistant in Cognos Analytics.  The AI assistant is game changing for Cognos Analytics.  It has gained so many enhancements over the past year that if you are not using this, you are missing out.  In Cognos Analytics version 11.2.2 and 11.2.3, the AI assistant added in time specific filtering.  Things like:

  •  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
  • YTD, QTD, MTD and abbreviations like Mon for Monday and Thur for Thursday and Xmas for Christmas to narrow your search in the assistant.

Type in “Show quantity between 1/1/20 and 2/29/20” and let the system generate visualizations based on what you typed. 

As you can see, I typed that into the assistant, and it provided the following.

AI Assistant in Cognos Analytics

Now let’s check to make sure it is correct.  I simply created a visualization and filtered on the dates I typed into the AI Assistant.  As you can see the system generated the correct data.

AI Assistant

Finally, my favorite feature in the AI Assistant is the ability to grab a data source and type in “create dashboard’ and watch the magic happen.  The system will create a dashboard with relevant data and then you can pick and choose what you would like to keep by pinning it and then creating other items to complete your dashboard. 

Create Dashboard in the AI Assistant

1. Workspace in Planning Analytics.  Finally, my favorite feature in Cognos and Planning Analytics is Workspace.  IBM has done an excellent job with Workspace in Planning Analytics and I’m going to spend a little time on why you should be using this.  And if you don’t already own it, why you should reach out to us at sales@lodestarsolutions.com to discuss adding this to your license entitlements.

IBM Planning Analytics Workspace is a web-based interface for IBM Planning Analytics with Watson™.  It provides an interface to TM1® data, with ways to plan, create, and analyze your content.

Planning Analytics Workspace helps you focus on the things that matter to your business. Using Planning Analytics Workspace, you can identify and understand patterns and relationships in data.  You can use this information to understand why things happen and predict what might happen. Planning Analytics Workspace opens the world of advanced analytics to all business users.

IBM has spent an enormous amount of time building Workspace to be your A to Z space to build models, input data, analyze data and reports.

Over the past year IBM introduced the Workbench in Workspace.  This is the main area for modelers to create TI processes, dimensions, cubes, rules and everything else you need to build your models.  Those of you who build models in Architect remember having multiple windows open to simply create a cube.  Now with the Workbench you have a flexible space that allows multiple windows open in one place adding great efficiency to the model building task.

Workbench in Workspace

Now that we have talked about the Workbench, let’s spend some time talking about the power of Workspace from a user perspective.  The ability to enter data and create visualizations based on the data that sync with data entry is so powerful.  After data entry the ability to create a dashboard to analyze that data in a visual way brings many insights to your data that were not readily available prior to Workspace.

Planning Analytics Workspace

Trust me when I tell you, if you are not using Workspace or do not have licensing for Workspace, you need to reach out to us today!

Helpful Links and Summary

There it is!  My list of the top ten features in Cognos and Planning Analytics for 2022.  There are so many more great features that didn’t make my top ten list.  However, both Cognos and Planning Analytics have come a long way and are both very impressive offerings from IBM.  Based on the roadmap for both products even more is coming in 2023. 

If you are not on the latest versions and you need help upgrading, reach out to me at services@lodestarsolutions.com.  We have several different offerings to get you upgraded and save you dollars and time.

If you do not own Workspace and would like to learn more reach out to us at sales@lodestarsolutions.com.

For everything new in Cognos Analytics

For everything new in Planning Analytics

IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics Price Increase Coming!

IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics Price Increase Coming!
IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics Price Increase Coming!
Written by Heather L. Cole and Mike Bernaiche, October 21st 2022

Inflation is everywhere!  Have you seen the price of eggs lately?  Well, I am sure you will not be surprised that inflation is impacting the technology industry too.  Software costs, support renewal costs and consulting are all rising.  IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics price increase is coming in January 2023.  Unlike the price of eggs that increases every trip to the store IBM has held their prices all year. But that’s about to change!

(Want to learn more about what’s causing this inflation, check out this NY Times article.)

IBM Price Increase

IBM has announced that effective January 1, 2023, that most of their products worldwide will increase 8% with a few countries increasing at a different rate.  See IBM’s recent announcement for your specific country. 

For many of us 8% seems outrageous, but is it?  The Consumer Price Index is around 8.2%.  Pricing all around us from gas, to food, to well everything is increasing.  Even the government is recognizing inflation by increasing social security payments in 2023 by 8.7%.  So, thank you IBM.  An 8% increase by IBM is not that bad. 

Take Action Now!

Budget and Save Money

My goal is to make sure every IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics client knows the 8% price increase is coming.  This should allow you to plan accordingly and make sure your budget for 2023 reflects this increase because your annual software support renewal will reflect the 8% increase.  For some IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics clients that have not reviewed their licensing with an IBM licensing expert recently, there may be ways to reduce your support costs.  At Lodestar Solutions we have helped hundreds of clients save on support by ensuring they are in the correct licensing mix.  Think of it this way, licensing is like a cell phone plan, IBM comes out with new bundles and licensing models periodically.  But, if you don’t ask if you are on the right licensing plan, you might end up paying more than you need to.  (See our blog How to Save Money on Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics)

If you would like a licensing review with one of our IBM Licensing experts, email Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Buy Software Now to Save

The second reason I want to sing this from the roof tops is that there is an opportunity!!  If you believe you will need additional licenses of IBM Cognos, IBM Planning Analytics, SPSS or any other IBM products in 2023 you might want to act now!  Many clients Lodestar Solutions’ works with are in acquisition and merger mode.  If this is you, you may need more licenses with your acquisition.  Or maybe you are rolling out new dashboards or planning models and need to add users.

It’s important to know that December is IBM’s end of year, which is always the best time to buy software and the pricing is still at 2022 rates.

NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY SOFTWARE!

Buy Future Year's Support to Save

But let me tell you a little trick!  Often when a client makes a significant purchase, they miss an opportunity to lock in their future year’s support.  How can you lock in support?  If you prepay for 2 years with your purchase, you will reduce the annual uplift and save money. 

Now, I know you are thinking “we don’t want to spend our cash.”  So, consider leveraging IBM Global Financing to purchase your licenses and 2 more years of support.  At Lodestar Solutions, we can help you do the analysis to see what rates you qualify for with IBM Global financing and see if the numbers work to save you money.  (Learn more about IBM Global Financing)

Consulting Rates Increasing Too

I would be remised if I did not also announce that Lodestar Solutions, and most consulting firms are increasing their rates too. 

Over the past year we have done our best to keep prices for our services at the same rates we have had for the last 5+ years. As we mentioned above, costs are rising and as such we will be increasing the price for services approximately 8.5% in 2023. This cost increase will be reflected on Statements of Work created starting Jan 1, 2023.  We hate to do this but to retain our top talent we need to compensate them fairly.

Lodestar Solutions offers many services including:

  • Technical Support – This includes upgrades, installation of new IBM Analytics software, database work, security and much more.
  • Planning Analytics and Cognos Analytics Consulting Including - architecture, modeling, model redesign, end user reporting and dashboard creation.
  • Power BI Consulting – data, creating reports, and visualizations.
  • Training – Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics training for both the novice and experienced. Including both modeler and end user training.

This is our first consulting price increase in many years, and we strive to show value far above the cost.

Lodestar Value Add -

This is our first consulting price increase in many years, and we strive to show value far above the cost.  One of the benefits that add a ton of value to our clients is our Lodestar Solutions’ Client Only, Quarterly Virtual User Groups. These are live interactive events that allow our clients to network and learn from our other clients.  We record all content and offer our clients access to our library of prior users group sessions.  This allows Lodestar clients to reference our content at any time. If you are a current Lodestar client and have not accessed your library, please reach out to us at services@lodestarsolutions.com and we will help you get access.

Our next user group is scheduled for Nov 15, 2022 (Cognos Analytics) and Nov 17, 2022 (Planning Analytics) at 11am – 2pm est. If you are an active Lodestar client and want to attend but have not received an invitation, please reach out to us at services@lodestarsolutions.com and we will ensure you are on the right list.

In Summary

Unfortunately, a lot of things must happen to slow inflation.  IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics Price Increase is Coming.  We can’t stop that. But we all can plan and take action NOW to SAVE MONEY!  If you would like to discuss your unique situation, email us at sales@lodestarsolutions.com.

PowerPoint Options Cognos and Planning Analytics

PowerPoint Options Cognos and Planning Analytics
PowerPoint Options Cognos and Planning Analytics
Written by Mike Bernaiche, June 23rd 2022

As someone who worked in finance and analytics for many years, I found myself having to update many different reports, often in PowerPoint, with financial numbers for management, board members and others.  It can be a time-consuming process of hand typing numbers, verifying they are correct and then updating all over again each month or quarter.  Did you know that there are PowerPoint options to automate this process?  I wish I knew about these PowerPoint options for Cognos and Planning Analytics many years ago.  One of the products for Cognos Analytics has been around a long time, the other product for Planning Analytics is new to market through a company called Intito (Intito – Solutions and services for smarter performance management), called Office Connect.  Below I will talk about both options.

IBM Cognos for Microsoft Office

IBM Cognos for Microsoft Office is a product that allows you to use Excel, Word and PowerPoint to import data directly into presentations or documents and have that data refresh at the push of a button. 

What is it?

  •  IBM® Cognos® for Microsoft 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 for Microsoft 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 Problems does it solve?

  •  The need to update PowerPoint presentations with data from Cognos Analytics or Planning Analytics (this is done by connecting your Planning Analytics cubes to Cognos Analytics) without having to copy and paste or hand type everything in.
  • Accuracy is important and you are nervous hand typing everything in each month.
  • When the closing process is complete you have very little time to update, and you are not into working nights and weekends.
Whatproblemsdoesitsolve
automaticupdates

The above examples show the Microsoft Office add-in and a resulting report once imported.  Every time the data updates in Cognos Analytics, you simply open the presentation and click the refresh data button and voila, your numbers have been updated.  Best news is, if you own Cognos Analytics you already own IBM Cognos for Microsoft Office. 

Intito Office Connect

Intito Office Connect is software that works directly with Planning Analytics and allows you to update data and report objects directly in PowerPoint with a few clicks of a button.  When I first saw this product, I was blown away and believe anyone who has presentation style reporting that needs to be updated each month should investigate purchasing this product.

By using Intito Office Connect you will save time, increase efficiency and accuracy, and spend more time analyzing and less time verifying numbers in a presentation.

IntitoOfficeConnect
IntitoOfficeConnect2

Would you like to learn more about Intito Office Connect?  Reach out to us at services@lodestarsolutions.com.  We have uploaded a demo that can be watched here.  I highly recommend checking this product out.  For years the only way to get Planning Analytics data into PowerPoint was either hand typing or connecting to Cognos Analytics.  With this option you can skip all of those steps and direct connect!

Summary

As you can see, I have provided two good PowerPoint options for Cognos and Planning Analytics.  Why not make your life easier and more automated?  Reach out to us at services@lodestarsolutions.com to discuss both PowerPoint options. 

Need to know what is new in Planning Analytics Workspace – check this out.

What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace 75 and 76 - Lodestar Solutions

What’s new in Cognos Analytics - What’s New in Cognos Analytics 11.2.2 - Lodestar Solutions

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 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.

Steps to Take When Your IBM Cognos or Planning Analytics Power User Leaves

Steps to Take When Your IBM Cognos or Planning Analytics Power User Leaves
Steps to Take When Your IBM Cognos or Planning Analytics Power User Leaves
Written by Heather L. Cole, January 27th 2022

“Heather wanted to let you know Friday is my last day at _____ Company.”  Would you believe I am getting emails like this weekly?  Yes, the Great Resignation is real!  And at Lodestar Solutions, we want you know to know we have your back!  Today I’ll share the Steps to Take When Your IBM Cognos or Planning Analytics Power User Leaves.  Just know you don’t have to go it alone!

1. Call Lodestar Solutions to Create a Plan

When your IBM Cognos or Planning Analytics Power User Leaves it can be scary.  Especially if you have a smaller deployment and the one person that knows everything about your system just resigned.  When this happens Lodestar Solutions is here to help you create a plan, help you find new talent and back you up when you need it, even if this means you need some temporary staff until you hire someone.  As soon as notice is given, call Lodestar at 813-415-2910 or email Services@lodestarsolutions.com to schedule your complimentary “oh sh*t” plan.

2. Create an Emergency SOW with Lodestar Solutions

It’s always best to have a backup plan.  At Lodestar Solutions we recommend all clients have an active statement of work in place to help if you have an emergency, but if your Cognos or TM1 power user leaves, it is even more important.  So, call us at 813-415-2910 or email services@lodestarsolutions.com and we can tell you how many hours you have on your open SOWs or create a new one.  Remember you are not billed unless you use our services.  But you don’t want to have an emergency and must wait for legal to review contracts before we can help.  So, call today to get your emergency SOW in place.

3. Change Your Support Contacts with IBM

Before the person leaves, you want to check if they were designated as the point of contact within the IBM support system.  If so, you want to have them change the primary contact before they leave!  It’s a lot easier to change the name within the IBM system before the person’s email is turned off.  Here’s Lodestars’ blog on how to change the contact’s name.   

You will also want to notify us of who should receive your support renewal quotes in the future.  Reach out to our team at renewals@lodestarsolutions.com for assistance.

4. Switch the Admin within the System

You want to make sure you update security in the system to assign administrative rights to someone else.  This is very important for smaller deployments of IBM Analytics that only have one power user.  You should always remove employees that have left the company from the Cognos or TM1 system, so you don’t risk failing an audit.  Note, when an employee leaves the company you can reassign their license to a new user, just no sharing.  For more information on IBM audits, see our two-part blog series on Things Every Cognos Client Needs to Know about an IBM Audit.

Part 1 - Things Every Cognos Client Needs to Know about an IBM Audit

Part 2 - Things Every Cognos Client Needs to Know about an IBM Audit


5. For Cognos Users Plan for Orphaned Content

If you use IBM Cognos Analytics and a user leaves before you reassigned their reports, you may end up with reports you can’t get to.  We call this Orphaned content.  When a user is deleted in a Cognos namespace all of their content in their My Folder gets orphaned and is difficult to access. The good news is you didn’t lose it.  Here’s our blog on how to retrieve it, and a link to Motio’s YouTube Video as they have a great tool to help recover orphaned objects in Cognos. 

Document Your Models with Video

6. Knowledge Transfer Video

When a Cognos admin quits, often there is not enough time to do proper knowledge transfer and does anyone really have updated documentation?  To save you time and money trying to figure out the basic setups of your IBM Analytics system, we recommend the person leaving record a video of the system.  They should record the video as if they are talking to their replacement and sharing all the details of their system.  You can use Zoom or a video conferencing service to do this, or we use Camtasia, a video editing system. This video can be very valuable to the person you hire.

7. Communicate How to Log a Case

If the person moving on, is the person that has access to log cases with IBM you should have them shoot a video on how to log a case and provide your site details.  This will be very valuable if you have an issue and need IBM support.

8. Create a Job Description

Now that you have your backup plan created you want to create an awesome job description to attract top talent.  Don’t just rely on your HR team to do this.  Lodestar is happy to help.  We will provide you a sample description and review what you have before it’s posted.  A few key points:

  •  If you allow remote or flexible work times, make sure it’s on the post.
  • Don’t just write it for what the company is looking for but include what you are offering the candid like training.
  • Read the job description, would you reply?  If not, rewrite it.

A great book for anyone hiring is Hiring for Attitude by Mark Murphy.  

For Lodestar Clients Only:

If you are a Lodestar Solutions client, we are willing to help you promote your position.  It’s what family does… Once you have your job description written send it to me at hcole@lodestarsolutions.com and I’ll share it with my network.

9. Review your Licensing and New Functionality

Whenever there is a change in your organization, you should do a State of the Union review.  Lodestar Solution’s recommends reviewing:

  •  Your IBM Analytics Licensing
  • What’s new in the latest IBM release
  • A List of what future enhancements your power users were planning
  • A review or your current environment and models

We find when clients do a review with us, they have comfort in understanding what they own, how they can use it and that their current system is in good shape.  Lodestar is happy to schedule a review with you.  Email us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

November Lodestar Virtual Cognos User Group

November Lodestar Virtual Cognos User Group
November Lodestar Virtual Cognos User Group
Written by Mike Bernaiche, October 28th, 2021

It is almost that time again!!  Time for the Virtual Cognos User Group for Lodestar clients only!  Lodestar hosts a Virtual Cognos User Group every quarter, that’s 4 times a year of great information FREE for our clients.  We started these last year as the world was going virtual and they have been a great success.  Below you will find all the information to attend.  We break the Cognos User Group into 2 sessions on different days.  Day 1 is for Cognos Analytics and Day 2 is for Planning Analytics.  Join us for either one or both!  Here is the best part, all sessions are recorded and as a Lodestar customer you have access to our library of videos from all user groups that you can watch anytime. 

Cognos Analytics User Group

When: November 9, 2021, 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Agenda: Virtual Cognos User Group - CA

Containers are Coming – Cognos Analytics and Cloud Pak for Data
Join Heather as she provides a high-level presentation on what Cloud Paks are and if they are right for you.
Cognos Analytics What’s New

Mike will provide an update with demo of new features in Cognos Analytics 11.2 and 11.2.1.

Cognos Analytics Tech Talk

Ted will give an update on all things technical related to Cognos Analytics 11.2.

Networking Break Out

Talk to other clients and build your professional network with more Cognos Analytics knowledge.

Dashboarding Secrets

Join Mike as he demonstrates dashboarding secrets he has learned in Cognos Analytics 11.2 / 11.2.1.

Predictive Analytics with Cognos Analytics

Heather will be joined by a predictive analytics expert to discuss how you can use Predictive with Cognos Analytics.

Planning Analytics User Group

When: November 16, 2021, 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Agenda: Virtual Cognos User Group - PA

Containers are Coming – Planning Analytics and Cloud Pak for Data

Join Heather as she provides a high-level presentation on what Cloud Paks are and if they are right for you.

Workbench and Admin

Mike will demonstrate the new workbench in Planning Analytics Workspace.

AI Forecasting Capabilities in Planning Analytics

Did you know that Planning Analytics Workspace has AI forecasting capability?  See how to use it in this session.

Planning Analytics Tech Talk

Ted will give an update on all things technical related to Planning Analytics.

Networking Break Out

Talk to other clients and build your professional network with more Planning Analytics knowledge.

Predictive Analytics with Planning Analytics

Heather will be joined by a predictive analytics expert to discuss how you can use Predictive with Planning Analytics.

Creative Uses of Planning Analytics

Heather has some great ideas on how you can use Planning Analytics other than the normal budgeting and forecasting options.

How to Join

Be on the lookout for an email from Lodestar with all the details to join each session.  If you have never joined us before and do not have a special log in to our video library, please reach out to Heather Cole at hcole@lodestarsolutions.  She will get you set up in our library to take part in this user group and watch any of our previous videos from other virtual Cognos user groups.

For a list of topics covered in previous user groups check out this extensive blog listing.

IBM Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics Virtual User Group - Lodestar Solutions

Handy Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics Links

What’s new in Planning Analytics

What’s new in Cognos Analytics?

How to Create your Analytics Roadmap without Hiring Expensive Consultants

How to Create Your Analytics Roadmap Without Hiring Consultants
How to Create Your Analytics Roadmap Without Hiring Consultants
Written by Heather L. Cole, June 17th 2021

“This is going to be the year!  I swear this is the year we really leverage our Cognos and Planning Analytic investment!”  This is a quote from a mid-market client I have worked with and each year at renewal time, he says this is the year.  While I reflected on his challenge, I realized other clients including Cognos Analytic and Planning Analytic clients may have the same struggle.  So, today we will start our guide on how to create your analytics roadmap without hiring expensive consultants.   This is part one of a two-part blog.

1. Take One Step Toward Creating an Analytics Roadmap

The first step towards accomplishing any goal is to take the first step.  Have you ever had a project or goal that looks so massive that you don’t even know where to start?  Creating an analytics roadmap can feel very overwhelming.  You want to decide what to monitor, determine where the data is, make sure you have the right tools, and deal with all the personalities of the people that need to be involved.  It’s no wonder so many projects fail before they even start.  Then add to the fact you might have multiple tools like Cognos Planning Analytics, Cognos Analytics, Power BI, Excel….

But I’ll let you in a little secret.  It only takes one step to start.

It Only Takes One Step to Start

Yes, that is right!  It is okay for your organization’s analytic journey to start with just you and a simple l idea to provide better insights.

A Single Spark

The First Step

Let’s take the first step together.  Grab a stack of sticky notes.   Set a timer on your cell phone for 10 minutes.  And for 10 minutes I want you to jot down one idea on each sticky note.  Maybe you want an inventory dashboard to track shortages or maybe a headcount dashboard to deal with resource shortages.  What ever pops in your head write it down.  There are no stupid answers.  Just let the ideas flow. 

When you are done raise your right hand in the air.  Reach behind your back and pat yourself on the back!  You have officially taken the first step to creating your analytic roadmap without hiring expensive consultants.

2. Review Your Ideas

In step two we will review your ideas and prioritize them.  The goal is to choose an item that will make the biggest impact to the organization.  You could evaluate your analytic ideas considering several factors, but Lodestar Solutions has been implementing Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics solutions for decades and we have learned there are three major considerations that help determine which analytic initiative will have the biggest impact.

  • How much money will the organization make or save by having visibility to this data?
  • Does the company currently have the data necessary to monitor this analytic initiative?
  • Will having visibility to this data help the organization accomplish their strategic goals?

When I work with our IBM Cognos clients to create their analytic roadmap, I have them score each idea 0-10 on each of the questions above.  Then we add up the scores and the analytic idea with the highest number is a great place to start.

3. Identify Other Stakeholders

Now that you have narrowed your analytic ideas down, it is time to go find some allies.  Successful analytic journeys almost always include stakeholders that are excited and have the power to make the vision of a dashboard, report, or scorecard a reality. 

Therefore, you will want to grab a piece of paper and write down everyone that would benefit from having greater visibility to the analytics and data you are proposing for your first destination in your analytic roadmap.  Once you have a list of people start reaching out to them and schedule a casual conversation.  You want to listen more than you talk and ask them for their ideas on the analytic idea.

If you are an IBM Cognos or Planning Analytics user, we recommend you include the Cognos or Planning Analytics administrator on your list of people to contact.  They can be a big ally for you if you ask for their ideas. 

Analytic Leaders

We are so proud of you.  The fact you read this far tells us you are destined to become a great Analytic Leader.  Here are a few resources you might want to check out.

Need Help?

If you need assistance or want to have someone help you facilitate discussions around your Analytic Roadmap, reach out to me at hcole@lodestarsolutions.com.

In Conclusion

I am so excited for you to start your adventure.  If you have tried to start and had a misstep, do not worry.  Lodestar Solutions has your back!  We are happy to discuss your specific journey and challenges. 

Be sure to check out part 2 of this blog!

Click here for How to Create Your Analytics Roadmap without Hiring Expensive Consultants Part 2.

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

Summary

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 service@lodestarsolutions.com

How to Customize Your Cognos Analytics

Customize Your Cognos Analytics
Customize Your Cognos Analytics
October 22nd, 2020

Have you been using IBM Cognos Analytics for years?  You are a master of Framework Manager and building reports, but have you branded your Cognos Analytics to reflect your companies, colors and logos?  Today we will discuss how to customize your Cognos Analytics for your company, so you look like a Rockstar.  Don’t worry, if you tried this in an earlier version like Cognos BI and struggled, you will be surprised at the improvements.

Why Customize Your Cognos Analytics?

End users and executives like to see consistency across their reporting and analytic solutions.  They like to see the company logo and company colors to create a consistent look and feel.  Creating a unique standard for your company is called creating a Cognos skin.  Creating a customized skin is like wrapping a gift.  When you give a holiday gift, do you wrap it in pretty paper with a bow, or do you deliver it in the bag from the store where you purchased it?  Well Cognos Analytics Customizations is like putting the perfect wrapping paper on your gift. 

As a developer, setting up your own templates and theme will take some time, but it will save you development time in the future.  Developers will have a framework to start with and not have to add the same objects and formatting to each new report.  Additionally, if your company decides to change their corporate colors or logo, you won’t have to update every report. 

Cognos Analytics Customizations

Cognos Analytics allows you to customize your Cognos Analytics system by using themes to change the Cognos Analytics interface to display your organizations branding.  Themes allow you to change the color schemes, logos and portal verbiage.   Additionally, you can leverage the global color palette functionality to create standardized colors for your end users.   A global palette is defined by the administrator but can be available to all users.  Users can duplicate it and then modify their version of it.

Click here or more information on Cognos Analytics Global Color Palettes.

Cognos Analytics Themes

To get you started IBM offers sample themes you can modify.  The samples are typically part of the product installation and are located at, <installation location>\samples\.  In Cognos Analytics, you can upload customizations directly through the Cognos Analytics user interface.  The core of each theme is a spec.json file that defines it and the files (images) that the .json references.  The theme allows for modification of the brandiconsmall, appbar, brandicon, brandText and navbar.

Cognos Analytics Themes

Cognos Analytics Extensions

In addition to themes, IBM Cognos Analytics extensions are used to add or remove buttons, shapes, menus, etc… in order to extend the standard user interface.

Cognos Analytics Extensions

How to Get Started on Branding Cognos Analytics for your Company

Now you know that you can customize your Cognos Analytics to reflect the colors and logos for your company, are you wondering, where do I start?  Start by watching the informative IBM produced youtube video How to Create Themes in 11.4

In the video IBM will guide you on how to install the samples and provide a lot of the details. 

How to Install Samples

You also might want to check out the Creating Themes  section of the IBM knowledge base.

Time to Skin Cognos Analytics

Are you read to wow your executives?  It’s time to customize your Cognos Analytics for your company. You already have a lot of skin in the game, isn’t it time to create a customized skin for your Cognos?    The good news is that IBM has made it a lot easier to create your company branding.  For more information on what Cognos Analytics can provide your organization see our blog, What’s New in Cognos Analytics.

Client Presentation on How They Customized Cognos Analytics

If you are a Lodestar Solutions’ client you should have recently received an invite to our private, client only, Cognos Analytics & Planning Analytics User Group being held virtually November 10, 2020.  US Lumber, a long-time Lodestar client will be sharing how they customized Cognos Analytics for their company.  To register for the event or get access to the replay email, services@lodestarsolutions.com.  

Please note, the Lodestar Solutions User Group is for current Lodestar clients that have purchased their renewal, services, software and/or training from us within the last 12 months.  This is a private group, as we share consultant secrets and are providing virtual peer networking sessions.  To learn more about how to become a Lodestar client and get invited to our exclusive events email us at Sales@lodestarsolutions.com.  Check out our website to see how we help our clients succeed in Cognos Analytics.

If you need help to customize your Cognos Analytics, reach out to us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com.  

X