Neither Cognos BI nor Microsoft Power BI can Replace Cognos Planning Analytics (TM1)!

Neither Cognos BI nor Microsoft Power BI can Replace TM1!
Neither Cognos BI nor Microsoft Power BI can Replace TM1!
February 13th, 2020

Recently I met with a client who owned and was using both IBM Cognos BI and TM1.  Their IT team was exploring if they should move from Cognos to Microsoft Power BI. Understandably, IT was trying to reduce the number of applications and tools they supported. I explained to them that neither Cognos BI nor Microsoft Power BI can replace TM1 now called IBM Planning Analytics.

What is Cognos Planning Analytics (TM1)?

BM Planning Analytics formerly known as TM1 is a powerful business performance management software designed to deliver collaborative planning, budgeting and forecasting solutions, interactive "what-if" analyses, as well as analytical and reporting applications. Over the years, IBM has added a lot of new capabilities to TM1 including hierarchies, Planning Analytics for Excel (PAX) and Planning Analytic Workspace (PAW).  Planning Analytics Workspace provides not just powerful dashboard capabilities but can be used to build new models as well.  See our earlier blog.  For more information on Planning Analytics Workspace check out our team member Atif’s Video.

Cognos Planning Analytics Workspace

Confusion Between BI and Planning Analytics (TM1)

As IBM enhanced TM1 and added Planning Analytics Workspace (PAW) they delivered amazing dashboarding capabilities.  They added balanced scorecard capabilities too.  Unfortunately, this may have led to the current confusion.  As you know dashboards are usually delivered through business intelligence tools like Cognos BI (Cognos Analytics) and Microsoft Power BI.  Additionally, some finance teams have leveraged TM1 as a lightweight version of a data mart, which IT is not always thrilled about.   So, when IT sees Planning Analytics (TM1) they can jump to the conclusion that the business intelligence tools they usually control like Power BI and/or Cognos Analytics and SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) cubes could replace Planning Analytics.

For more information on SSAS check out this link. 
To learn more about the new functionality in Cognos Analytics (BI) check out or earlier blog.

Cognos Planning Analytics Does what BI Does Not

Cognos Planning Analytics TM1 is very different than Cognos BI and/or Power BI!  Although it can handle dashboards and reports, it’s not designed to do bursting of reports and other functionality tools like Cognos Analytics Excel, etc… But, Cognos Planning Analytics TM1 does so much that BI does not.  Planning Analytics TM1 allows users to write back to the TM1 cubes structures to enter in budgeting and forecasting data. You would not want users to be able to change Cognos BI data that is typically historical data.  TM1 is a flexible modeling tool that allows for “What if” analysis, sandbox scenarios and powerful spread capabilities. It’s no wonder why finance departments love the power and flexibility of the new Cognos Planning Analytics version. 

If you  want  more information on the latest information on Cognos Planning Analytics check out the IBM web site or better yet, just email Lodestar Solutions and let’s chat.  Contact us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Why Finance Needs Unique Tools Like Planning Analytics TM1

It’s important to understand that in finance we live in a constant world of change.  Finance teams need to forecast and plan the affects of changes on the financial statements of the organization. It’s not uncommon for an executive to email the finance team and ask to see data in a new way.  For example, maybe a food distributor’s CFO suddenly wants to see sales by country of origin.  When this happens the finance team previously became stressed out thinking about how they have to rebuild models to incorporate the change.  But with Cognos Planning Analytics finance can leverage virtual dimension and rapidly provide these new insights. Once provided the CFO may then ask, “What would happen to our bottom line if all our avocados from Mexico were recalled.”  With Planning Analytics TM1 the finance team could easily do a what if model entering adjustments to reduce Mexico avocados and increasing sales of avocados from the US.  This on the fly modeling is often foreign to IT and business intelligence professionals that live in a world of governance, and control.  But if IT tries to eliminate TM1, they run the risk of making finance return to the world of Excel which lacks controls and processes provided by Cognos Planning Analytics.

Finance Should Keep their Planning Analytics

In summary, neither Cognos BI nor Microsoft Power BI can replace TM1 because TM1 provides a flexible modeling tool with write back and data collection capabilities not available in most business intelligence.  If your organization is having this internal debate, you don’t have to go it alone!  At Lodestar Solutions we can help you facilitate workshops to define what your unique analytic and business intelligence roadmap should look like. We will provide our expert opinions and network you with other clients that have walked in your shoes.  So, contact us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Why Upgrade to Cognos Analytics?

Why Upgrade to Cognos Analytics?
August 27th, 2019 

The Situation

You are currently using IBM Cognos BI 10.2.x and you are wondering why you should upgrade to Cognos Analytics.  Upgrades can take time; you worry that you will have to rebuild reports and are concerned that you just don’t have time to learn everything about Cognos Analytics.  Ultimately you wish that you had a simple to read blog that has everything you need to know about the upgrade process.  Well, look no further – HERE YOU GO!

The Why

Technology is always changing. Imagine for a minute that you are the Quarterback BI and Analytics person for your organization. You take the snap and drop back to pass, you wait, no one is available. So you assess the field again, you just don’t see the right play, and BOOM, you are sacked. Just like in football, if you spend too much time assessing on why you should upgrade to Cognos Analytics and you don’t execute, you might get sacked. Don’t get sacked, upgrade to Cognos Analytics today.

A big factor to consider is that if you are on Cognos BI 10.2.x or older, you are likely out of support from IBM.  You may be on an extended support agreement but that is very costly.  Please refer to the following links to see end of service for Cognos BI versions. Our recommendation is that you take advantage of the newest software instead of running the risk of getting sacked by not being supported.

IBM Software Lifecycle Overview

IBM Cognos BI 10.2.2 Unsupported in April 2018

Lastly, you may be struggling with Cognos end user adoption, building quick dashboards or modeling your data to fit your needs.  Again, why not upgrade and take advantage of the latest software and solve these issues and more.

The Improvements and Efficiencies in Cognos Analytics 11

When you choose to upgrade you get all of the below and so much more

  • Brand new modern user interface
  • Dedicated efficient Dashboard Module
  • Impressive mapping down to the street level
  • Intent driven data modeling
  • The power of Report Studio in a new user interface
  • PowerPoint like storytelling
  • Navigation paths to create drill up and down on flat data
  • Ability to upload data easily and model, report and dashboard quickly
  • Easier install options
  • Updates to software approximately 4 times a year
  • Even more improvements in the latest version, Cognos Analytics 11.1.3

  • Explorations modules gives you augmented intelligence to drive analysis
  • AI assistant to reduce the learning curve and allow quick start
  • Relative dates to provide quick month over month, year over year analysis
  • New and improved visualizations
  • Export dashboards to pdf
  • Share stories and dashboards to Slack
  • This is just a sampling of what is new and what you get when you upgrade to Cognos Analytics!

    The Prep

    Here are some easy to understand steps to prepare for your upgrade to Cognos Analytics.

    • Turn auditing on immediately
    • Assess your Cognos Analytics content store
    • What to keep, what to delete
    • Run the Motio script
    • Consider the Motio Inventory Module & Motio CI  
    • Estimate the cost to upgrade to Cognos Analytics
    • Sell benefits of your Cognos Analytics upgrade internally
    • Request the new environment for your upgrade
    • Review licensing to ensure new environment is in compliance (ILMT Questions and Answers) 
    • Learn new functionality
    • Determine what to deploy and create a timeline
    • Leverage Lodestar’s BAAM (Business Analytics Agile Methodology) for success 

    The How

    The first step is to contact us at services@lodestarsoltuions.com and schedule a quick initial complimentary, “Why Upgrade to Cognos Analytics?” discussion.  We will discuss your specific situation. Provide you with a high-level Cognos Analytics upgrade questionnaire (which can be previewed on our blog here). Explain your Cognos Analytics licensing and discuss why we recommend Motio products for your Cognos upgrade. During our follow up call we will schedule a brief walk through of Cognos Analytics and show you how it can help you and your organization. We will also provide an estimate of services to complete your Cognos Analytics upgrade and explain our BAAM methodology for success. 

    The last step is to schedule a call with our technical consultant and discuss specifics of your upgrade to Cognos Analytics, adjust the estimate if necessary, provide a SOW and schedule your upgrade!  It is a really simple process and we at Lodestar Solutions are here to guide you every step of the way!

    The Bonus Info

    Check out the links below to find more bonus information!

    Don't be the quarterback that gets sacked! Contact us now at services@lodestarsolutions.com to schedule your, complimentary "Why Upgrade to Cognos Analytics?” consultation today!

    IBM Cognos Business Manager License is Retiring

    5/15/2018

    Well the time is finally here!  Ever since IBM supersized client’s IBM Cognos licenses in 2014, Lodestar Solutions has warned clients that the fate of the IBM Cognos Business Manager license was questionable.  Well, the IBM Cognos Business Manager License is retiring. Yes, the IBM is ending support on this license and the Metric Studio Product. 

    Before you get mad, this is awesome news! 

    IBM is being very generous!  IBM is offering a license exchange to ensure your initial license investment with IBM is protected!  But I must caution you this is NOT a 1:1 match in terms of functionality. The Cognos Business Manager license included Metric Studio functionality. 

    Do you remember Metric Studio?  Candidly, I don’t have many clients that really deployed Metric Studio heavily.   Metric studio provided traffic lighting on metrics.  It looked cool but was missing a calculation engine. This meant that all the calculations and conditional logic had to be done outside of Metric Studio.  Not ideal.  Then IBM had a stroke of genius and they moved a lot of the functionality of Metric Studio into TM1.  TM1’s powerful calculation engine was just what Metric Studio was missing.  Compared to the metric cube power in Cognos Planning Analytics (TM1), Metric Studio was lipstick on a pig.   So, it’s not surprising that IBM is no longer supporting the IBM Cognos Business Manager license or Metric Studio.

    http://www-01.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg22004042

    For more information on Cognos Planning Analytics (TM1) scorecarding here’s a previous blog.

    https://lodestarsolutions.com/tm1-scorecarding-and-cognos-metric-studio/

    What IBM is willing to do for you!

    IBM is willing to exchange your IBM Cognos Business Manager license in for a Cognos Analytics User license.  Note this will not include either Metric Studio or TM1.  However,  the Cognos Analytics User license will provide some of the cool new stuff in Cognos Analytics (BI) v11. Can you say dashboards, and data modules? See the grid below to compare the functionality.

    If you want to learn more about Cognos Analytics (BI) v11, check out our blog. https://lodestarsolutions.com/whats-new-in-ibm-cognos-analytics-release-9/

    Cognos Business Manager License
    When to Exchange your Business Manager license:

    The exchange does not automatically happen! There is a little paperwork to do.  The best time to do this is just prior to your support renewal.  Lodestar Solutions can help you through the process but it will take some time.  Don’t wait until the day before your renewal!  I recommend at least 60 day prior to the renewal due date, you contact renewals@lodestarsolutions.com and we will get it started. 

    Basic Steps to Exchange
    1. Check if you have Business Manager licenses, check your renewal.
    2. Contact Renewals@lodestarsolutions.com stating would like a license exchange.
    3. Lodestar will work with IBM on the exchange and confirm the conversion calculation.
    4. IBM powers to be will have to approve the exchange, so please give us time.
    5. Once approved we will send you the license exchange form to be completed and processed
    What’s it cost?

    THIS EXCHANGE DOESN’T COST YOU ANYTHING!

    You will keep the same S&S anniversary date and renewal amount.  Thank you IBM!  All it will cost you is a little time to do the paperwork, and Lodestar can help you with that.

    What if you don’t do the exchange?

    Well I suspect if your licenses will expire, you will basically lose one of your users, because the expired licenses that are not supported will not be able to be upgraded.  If you never upgraded, I guess you could still use them, but you would be nuts not to upgrade to get the cool new features.

    So, there you have it!  BM Cognos Business Manager license is retiring, and we should celebrate by exchanging them for the Cognos Analytics User license!  Contact Renewals@lodestarsolutions.com for more information.

    The Basics of Cognos Analytics

    9/26/2017
    Basics of Cognos Analytics

    What is Cognos Analytics?

    The basics of Cognos Analytics can be summed up as the newest version of IBM Cognos Business Intelligence, historically referred to as Cognos 10 or Cognos 8.  Simply put, Cognos Analytics offers a new and improved self service platform that empowers end users to create personalized dashboards and reports with little IT support.  

    Do I Own Cognos Analytics?

    YES! If you are current on your Cognos BI support then you own Cognos Analytics. This is true for both the Enterprise version or Express version of the software.

    What Do I Get with Cognos Analytics?

    Basically, it starts with a new, easier to use and navigate, user interface. The new reporting area is just like report studio, however, the new user interface does not look as complex and technical as the old report studio. The new dashboard area is simply fantastic. Build dashboards quickly, no need to create widgets in report studio, using any number of data sets.  Furthermore, a simple dashboard can be created in about 10 minutes. The story area provides the ability to take your dashboard items and tell a story to end users with a PowerPoint feel.  Finally, the data area allows end users to create on the fly data modeling.  A great addition, although you will need a strategy as to who you will allow to create their own data modules.

    Check out this high level overview video of Cognos Analytics

    Why Should I Upgrade to Cognos Analytics?

    You may or may not have heard that standard support for Cognos 10.2.x will end in April 2018. If you are on version 10.1.x, support ended on April 30, 2016.  Obviously, if you are on Cognos 8, your support ended many moons ago.  Heather Cole recently wrote a great blog on the end of service for 10.2.x and the potential pitfalls by delaying your upgrade.    You can read it by clicking ​here​​​.  

    Some other reasons you should consider upgrading: more user friendly interface, true self service, intent driven data modeling, Mapbox integration for geospatial, outstanding visualizations and a new and much improved dashboard experience.  Because of these reasons and many more, I highly suggest an upgrade right away.

    Finally, contact services@lodestarsolutions.com to schedule a short demo and discuss your Cognos Analytics.  

    Are Your IBM Security Certificates About To Expire?

    10/4/2016

    The purpose of SSL certificates (Secure Sockets Layer) are for encrypting data as it is transferred around a network. These SSL certificates also have an expiration date. If the IBM security certificates expire, you may run into issues using certain client side Cognos applications or gaining access to your data and system.

    There are many good reasons for keeping your Cognos BI and TM1 systems up to date on fix packs. One of the most important is that it will keep the security (SSL) certificates updated or renewed! (Please note that the most recent fix packs do not have the SSL updates yet. IBM should have updated fix packs soon and we will update when available.)

    Below, you will find some easy tips for determining when your certificates expire and how to check what version of TM1 or BI (with fix packs) you are operating.

    Tips For Determining Expirations & Operating Versions

    First, let’s start with the instructions to check on your expiration dates for the IBM security certificates. The summary instructions can be found by using this IBM Support Link.

    Next, you will want to determine what version and fix packs of the Cognos software you are running by following this easy process. Keep in mind that you must be current on support in order to have access to fix packs. If you let this lapse or need assistance, please contact renewals@lodestarsolutions.com so that we may assist you.

    Cognos BI

    In regards to Cognos BI, you will need the information found using this IBM support link to compare to your settings.

    Open Cognos configuration for BI, hit CTRL-F3, and the properties menu will come up. Click on the installed components tab and compare the numbers listed to the chart.

    IBM Security Certificates

    Cognos TM1

    Cognos TM1 is very similar.  We suggest using this IBM support link to determine the version you are currently using.

    Open Cognos configuration for TM1, hit CTRL-F3, and the properties menu will come up. Click on the installed components tab and compare the numbers listed with PLANANALYTICS to the chart.

    IBM Security Certificates

    Cognos Express

    Finally, for determining Cognos Express, open Cognos configuration for Cognos Express, hit CTRL-F3, and the properties menu will come up. Click on the installed components tab and compare the numbers listed with the charts above for BI and TM1. While there is not a specific chart for Cognos Express, the numbers should correlate.

    Furthermore, as a general rule for Cognos BI, TM1 or Express, we recommend you being on the most recent fix pack for the version you are running. Ideally, you want to be on the latest version and latest fix packs. For Cognos BI, TM1 and Express, that should be 10.2.2 unless you have upgraded to IBM Cognos Analytics (Cognos 11). The current version of Cognos 11 is 11.0.3 with release 4 coming soon.  Additional fix pack information can be found by visiting the following IBM Fix Central link.

    Additional Fix Pack Information

    There are also a few other things you can do besides making sure you are on the latest fix packs:

    1. Disable SSL in TM1s.cfg. This is not recommended because it will leave your traffic not protected by the SSL certificate.
    2. Generate your own IBM security certificate and then apply it.
    3. If you are using TM1 10.2.2, upgrade to a 2048 bit SSL as discussed on this IBM Support FAQ link.

    Should you need assistance working through these instructions or any other questions regarding IBM security certificates, call Lodestar Solutions at 813-254-2040. If necessary, we will involve one of our technical consultants. We can also install the fix packs to ensure that your systems are up to date with the latest enhancements and updates!

    UPDATE – IBM has announced the update fix for this issue (including some enhancements) will be release end of October or early November 2016.

    IBM Cognos BI Dispatcher and PVUs

    8/9/2016

    Are your IBM Cognos BI reports taking a long time to run? Do you have certain reports that are scheduled to be sent to a certain department? Are you looking at adding another Cognos BI server and want to limit your PVU rating? Depending on how your system is set up, you may want to control how reports are distributed through the use of Cognos BI dispatcher.

    Simply put, the dispatcher is the entry point for Cognos BI service requests sent by a web server or other software. The dispatcher handles routing and balances the load of users. You can have more than one dispatcher and as such, each dispatcher configures to each instance of the content manager.

    Options for IBM Cognos BI Dispatcher

    You can set up the dispatchers to distribute reports based on user group, roles, or package. In other words, financial reports based on an income statement package can be directed to be run through the “finance server dispatcher”, sales report through sales dispatcher and so on.  Furthermore, you can also set up the rule so that anytime any sales report is run, without regard to package, it can go to a specific dispatcher.

    Why does this matter? Depending on your licensing structure, setting up dispatchers with appropriate size hardware could limit your PVU expense.  You also have the option of setting up the dispatchers to handle x’s of the process requests or set them equally. These are commonly referred to as load balancing.

    Cognos BI Dispatcher

    One area of importance is tuning the dispatchers.

    Below are some of the options available to tune:

    1. Load Balancing

    2. Balance Dispatcher Load with In-Progress Load Factor

    3. Setting the dispatcher load balancing property to cluster compatible mod

    4. Balancing the data movement task execution

    5. Usage Peak Period

    6. Maximum Number of Processes and Connections

    7. Affinity Connection

    8. Queue Time Limit

    9. Maximum Execution Time

    You can find all of the information on Cognos BI dispatcher and PVU in the IBM Cognos Business Intelligence Version 10.2.2 Administration and Security guide.

    For troubleshooting your Cognos BI dispatcher, head on over to the IBM Cognos BI Dispatcher Diagnostic to download a tool help you out.

    Setting up a dispatcher is confusing. Add in the licensing aspect and it can be downright maddening. Lodestar Solutions is here to help answer any questions you have regarding dispatchers, tuning, licensing impact or all the above. We have experts in each area that can make this process simple and possibly SAVE YOU MONEY on your licensing additions or support renewal! Please contact us at services@lodestarsolutions.com   for more information.

    Finally, to learn more about PVU licensing, check out a very informational blog called What the Heck is an IBM Cognos PVU? that is definitely worth the read.

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