The Power of Cognos Insight

2/17/2016

Do you struggle with trying to analyze offline spreadsheets or data sources? Do you receive data from 3rd parties that need to be analyzed quickly?  Do you want to look like a rock star and quickly create a TM1 cube and dashboard on this data?  How would you feel if you were able to do all of this and more including publishing to the Cognos network for consumption throughout the organization? Let us introduce Cognos Insight.

IBM Cognos Insight can make all of this happen and more! Let me tell you about an internal struggle I had recently and how Cognos Insight has become a daily tool within Lodestar Solutions. 

It was time to build Lodestar’s 2016 Budget and I wanted to be able to quickly build a budget that could quickly be implemented and shared throughout our organization. I utilized files form our accounting software, dragged them in, manipulated the hierarchies a little and very quickly created an actuals cube that was the basis for our 2016 budget.  Once the budget process was complete, I took that info and created a scorecard which is utilized daily at Lodestar Solutions.  Updating certain numbers weekly and monthly, our entire organization has insight into our business.  Upper management can react to changing trends quickly while the service team can see who is doing what and what projects are in the que. Additionally, the entire company can have conversations and create actions based on fact, not assumption.  Doesn’t that sound like a powerful tool that can make you shine in your company?

Lodestar Solutions can help you with Cognos Insight. We have an awesome workshop available for you to access which will teach you how to use it in a couple of hours.  It includes files and instruction to create cubes, calculations and dashboards. Lodestar Solutions also provides a link to download the free version of Cognos Insight.  This version has all features of the paid version except the ability to publish back to Cognos and pull data from BI or TM1.  Also one important item of note, if you own BI or TM1… you own the full version of Cognos Insight.

Welcome screen with lots of valuable info:

Cognos Insight welcome screen

Example of Scorecard in Cognos Insight:

 Cognos Insight example scorecard

Another screenshot example:

Cognos Insight screen example

Contact us at Services@LodestarSolutions.com for information on our Cognos Insight workshop and start utilizing this very powerful desktop tool! You can also view our Lodestar Solutions Youtube video HERE.

Cognos Insight vs Excel? Managing with personal analytics

Cognos Insight vs Excel? Managing with personal analytics

Think about the world we live in. Literally anything we want is at our fingertips. The latest weight loss super drug that just got banned in Bulgaria? It’s on Amazon. You’re in your Monday morning meeting and your manager “suggests” a book for you to read. Oh, that’s simple. Just slide your phone out of your pocket, slide down the search bar for Amazon.com (because you’ve already memorized the keyboard layout), type in the book, and add in the phone case and headphones you’ve been looking at. Hit submit and next thing you know, there’s a box on your door step when you get home from work on Wednesday.

Now that same ease is at your fingertips when it comes to personal analytics. How much water did I drink today? How is my performance in the gym or the 10k I’m training for going? How long is it taking me to get to work? If you can measure it you can improve it.

Have some fun and empower yourself by viewing your life just as you would in business. If you can measure it, you can improve it. Does a company think, “Oh we’re profitable… keep it up” or do they look to drill into their numbers to gain context? What are our biggest profit centers and how do we expand them? What are our areas of weakness and how do we either understand, fix, or minimize their under-performance. Whether you’re old school and prefer the familiarity of excel or you’re utilizing the power of a personal desktop application like Cognos Insight, anything is possible.

Free Cognos Insight Training

How does Free Cognos Insight Training and a word like infobesity correlate?  First let's take a look at the definition of the word.

infobesity

NOUN [CREDIT TO Kerry Maxwell]

The condition of continually consuming large amounts of information correlating to a negative effect on a person's well-being and ability to concentrate.

Cognos Insight Training

There definitely is no lack of data. Even a babbling idiot can shout out tons of statistics at you – granted they may only be true facts within the confines of their head – but statistics nonetheless. Relevant data is what is needed. And for data to be relevant, it needs to be managed and organized so that accurate interpretations become the basis for actionable solutions. And that is what an IBM Cognos Business Analytics Solution does. If you’re still in “Excel Hell” or want to see how you can help expand your IBM Cognos Business Analytics Solution even further, please join Lodestar Solutions for our Cognos Insight Workshop. We offer these periodically via Virtual Workshops or at select IBM facilities (check out http://bit.ly/1DxyFca). If you cannot attend one of these, please contact Darin Ray at Dray@lodestarsolutions.com to inquire about scheduling a Cognos Insight Workshop for your company.

Be a “Business Analytics Expert” w/ Cognos Insight – Analytic Desktop Tool

Have you checked out the Analytic Desktop Tool, Cognos Insight?  What did you think?  For those of you who are advanced Cognos BI users, did you dismiss it?  Well, hold on a minute!  Cognos Insight can be a valuable tool to help you become recognized as a “Business Analytics Expert” in your organization.

What is Cognos Insight?

Cognos Insight (CI) is a desktop tool that allows users to create custom dashboards and applications.  It’s a personal analytics solution that empowers users to independently explore, analyze, visualize and share data without relying on IT for assistance.  The tool empowers the end users, while maintaining the integrity and IT guidelines of the IBM Cognos Enterprise solutions.  End users can drag CSV files of data in to immediately create multidimensional models; it’s like Excel on steroids!  In summary, it provides the flexibility your end users seek, while allowing you to preserve the integrity of your Enterprise-wide Business Analytics solution.

How can you leverage Cognos Insight? 

CI can help you get recognized as a BA expert.  Here’s how:

Existing IBM Cognos BI Users:  Many clients have Cognos BI deployed in certain departments, or to meet particular business needs.  Lodestar Solutions recommends you expand how and where Analytics and BI are used in your organization.  By hosting a Cognos Insight workshop, you can introduce functional areas that aren’t using Cognos to the power of Cognos.  They can test drive the software and bring in data which they are probably reporting off of with Excel today.  This is a great baby step into the world of Business Analytics.  For Finance departments, you can use Cognos Insight to introduce them to the write back functionality and multidimensionality of TM1/Performance Management.   (Lodestar can help you host a Cognos Insight workshop, just contact us.)

Existing IBM Cognos TM1/ PM Users:  If you have Cognos TM1/Performance Management but not currently using Cognos BI, Cognos Insight can provide an introduction to the robust dashboarding and visualization tools available in BI.   Lodestar Solutions recommends that you host a Cognos Insight workshop to introduce the concepts of BI.  This is a great baby step into the world of Business Intelligence.  You can also use the CI workshop to expose other areas of the business that heavily relay on Excel, like Marketing and HR, to the power of TM1 and the benefits of a multidimensional solution. (Lodestar can help you host a Cognos Insight workshop, just contact us.)

Non-Cognos clients: If you don’t currently use IBM Cognos products, but are looking to educate your organization on the power of Business Analytics, Cognos Insight is a great way to provide them an introduction.  By hosting a Cognos Insight workshop with Lodestar Solutions, you can set a foundation and roadmap for Business Analytics in your organization. IBM has some great sample models for various industries that you can download.  I recommend you customize the content to the functional area you are presenting to.  So, show marketing people marketing information.  For more information on the sample models go to www.analyticszone.com.

Set Expectation for Cognos Insight:  My one word of caution is to make sure you set proper expectations. Cognos Insight is a personal analytics solutions that can leverage the Framework of Cognos, but it is not an Enterprise solution.  However, it connects perfectly with IBM’s Enterprise and Express solutions. Flexibility and Structure all in one solution. What more can you ask for?

To help set up a Cognos Insight Workshop in person or virtually, email sales@lodestarsolutions.com or call us at 813-254-2040.

Expand Cognos TM1 and BI with Cognos Insight

Scalability and time are two issues that never seem to be solved. Couple that with expanding end-user adoption and the headaches begin to mount for any Cognos Admin or Power User.  This is where Cognos Insight comes into play as your pain reliever. Cognos Insight is a desktop application that functions as the ideal middle ground between TM1 and BI, while also serving as a training environment for potential Cognos users.

Think big picture like an executive. How can you create additional business value and cost justification for your firm’s existing Cognos environment? How can you solve Marketing’s, HR’s, and incentive compensation pain points with Cognos? Now do you have the time available to do this? Send them the link to download the personal version of Cognos Insight for free at IBM’s Analytics Zone and empower them.

Are you looking to add some structure to their empowerment? We’re running a special here at Lodestar Solutions where we’ve taken our Cognos Insight Workshop and converted it into a virtual format. This is a two-hour workshop where we provide sample data that begins with ad hoc analysis, data modeling, and then we dive in-depth with cube links and calculations. For existing Cognos clients, we’re going to direct you on how to download the latest standard version of Cognos Insight, and at the end of the workshop, we’ll connect directly into your TM1 or BI data to have some real fun!

What does the workshop cost? We only ask to quote on your upcoming support renewal, where we’ll review your current entitlements and coach you on how to leverage all the additional functionality IBM added on July 22nd.

Cognos Insight – Powerful but Simple Analytics Tool

Cognos Insight – Powerful but Simple Analytics Tool

As I sat and played with Cognos Insight (v10.2.2), it dawned on me that the opportunities are huge with this product.   New and veteran users alike can build high quality dashboards and reports with different data sources in little time.

Let’s start with the basics of Cognos Insight:

  • Free download of a slimmed down version of the software for any user through the Analytics Zone.  The free version allows you to bring in a data source from excel, .csv, or .cdd files
  • The full version is available to those customers who have current licensing agreements with IBM, or through a “buy it now” link.  The full version allows the above files types, plus the ability to connect to TM1 and BI package data.  You are also allowed to share your dashboards or reports with other users.
  • The data sources are quickly turned into OLAP or cubes and the user can quickly build reports or dashboards.

Simple Analytics Tool

The report above was created in very little time using an excel file as a data source.  Those of you who use crosstab reports and charts in Cognos BI should find this very familiar.

With the ability to connect to TM1 cubes and Cognos BI packages in Cognos Insight, the opportunity to quickly build powerful dashboards and reports is now available to many more users than in the past.  You do not need an expert in Report Studio to build objects – as many of you know it takes a long time to master Report Studio.  Now, with a day of training, end users can produce actionable reports and share with the organization.

Simple Analytics Tool

Dashboard created using Cognos Insight.

Make sure you contact us at services@lodestarsolutions.com to find out where and when our next demos are located.

I’m very excited about the opportunity that Cognos Insight provides everyone who is interested in Analytics.  Download it and give it a try, then contact us for coaching to turn your basic knowledge into rock star knowledge!

IBM’s Information on Demand 2012 – What We Learned

IBM's Information on Demand 2012 – What We Learned

What happened at IBM Information on Demand 2012 (IOD) in Las Vegas does not stay in Las Vegas!  There were many exciting Cognos related topics discussed at IBM Information on Demand Conference held this past fall.  This year’s conference was held at Mandalay Bay the week of October 22nd, and was attended by more than 12,000 people.  Some of the hot topics included Cognos 10.2 updates and new features including Active Reports, Dynamic Cubes, Cognos Mobile, Workspace and Cognos Insight.  Below is a brief description of each…

Active Reports –

How would you like to be able to perform interactive analytics while offline, perhaps traveling on an airplane with only your iPad?  You can!  With Active reports, you stay connected while disconnected!  You can interact with reports or dashboards and figure out trends that move your business forward while the competition is waiting to get connected again.  Report writers do need to be careful when creating Active Reports, especially those targeted for mobile devices, to ensure that the report is built to the limited screen size specifications for ease of use.

Dynamic Cubes –

Do you have a very large data warehouse based on a star or snowflake schema on which you want to provide an OLAP experience?  Then this product might be for you!  This 100% in-memory OLAP engine is optimized for data sets over 25,000,000 rows.  This product is similar in nature to Transformer or PowerCubes.  But fear not; it is in addition to these products, not a replacement.  Dynamic Cubes can provide up to 80 times faster response to similarly modeled DMR data sources.

Cognos Mobile –

IBM has spent a lot of time and resources on Cognos Mobile.  In versions 10.1 and 10.1.1, Cognos Mobile made huge leaps with outstanding functionality across a broad set of devices.  Now, in 10.2, it offers even more.  Push notifications to the IOS status bar on the iPad now allow users to know when a new version of their report is available.  Multi-page reports can now be streamed to devices, reducing load time, and administrators can now govern access to Cognos via Mobile devices through Cognos Administration.

Cognos Workspace (formerly Business Insight) –

First of all, IBM has changed the name from Business Insight to Cognos Workspace, a change in my opinion that is good!  Business Insight Advanced is now known as Cognos Workspace Advanced as well.  Some of the enhancements to Cognos Workspace include multiple tabbed workspaces, the ability to freeze and unfreeze column and row headers, and the ability to limit the user experience by either making them an author, user or consumer.   IBM has also added support for use in Google Chrome and Safari.  Check out Cognos Workspace and make dashboards that executives love!

Cognos Insight –

Cognos Insight is a Personal Analytics solution that resides on the user’s desktop and can take many different data sources or types and create cubes, reports and dashboards quickly and without IT help.  Insight now includes out of the box time rollups (think Transformer), as well as drill up and down charting with top/bottom filtering.  A major item of note is that customers who have Cognos TM1 Enterprise can now publish their Cognos Insight Dashboards to Cognos 10.2 Enterprise.  From a licensing perspective, the user just needs to have an enhanced consumer license.

There are many other exciting things happening in the Cognos world and Lodestar Solutions is here to help fill any need you have.   Next year’s IBM Information On Demand conference will again be held in Las Vegas in early November, 2013.  With all of the enhancements coming so quickly, IOD is a great way to be at the forefront of the latest and greatest in not only Cognos, but other IBM products as well.  Hope to see you there!

What’s New: Cognos Insight 10.1.1

What’s New in IBM Cognos Insight 10.1.1?

1. Percentage of Total Calculations
2. Calculations in Parent
3. Time Dimension Import
4. Chart Interaction
5. Improved Usability Features
a. Simplified Terminology
b. Access to Formatting
c. Keyboard Shortcuts
6. Guided Import
7. IBM Cognos Insight Trial Edition

Percentage of Total Calculations
Percent of Total Calculations is a view option that enables business users to see their data reflected in a meaningful way when the scale of data makes comparisons more difficult – while the exception highlighting afforded by the compare calculation enables users to spot issues. Viewing data as a Percent of Total also quickly implies the scale of the issue. A poorly performing business unit, product, or time period is less important if it typically accounts for only a small fraction of the overall business. A favorite for the Excel user, this is a common requirement for business analysts evaluating year over year, quarter over quarter growth, etc…

Calculations in Parent
With regards to Calculations in Parent, in the previous version, when you created a calculation the value of the calculation was automatically included in any parent summaries. The default is now to exclude the calculation value from any parent summaries. If you in fact did want to include the calculation value in the parent summary, you could simply edit the calculation and choose the option to include calculation value.

Time Dimension Import
In Cognos Insight 10.1, manual creation of time hierarchies for year, quarter and month was required (or it was necessary that the data was already provided as such in the source). The time dimension is an important and regularly used dimension for analysis that users will no longer have to spend time creating and re-creating. Automatic creation makes workspace authoring faster, gets users to the point analyzing data quicker, and addresses this gap in the previous version of Cognos Insight. This will also improve the overall user experience during Cognos Insight evaluations.

Chart Interaction
Leveraging the competitive differentiator of write back at the core of TM1, this feature enables the business user to rapidly prototype growth trends, make adjustments, or evaluate investments. Consider a zero-sum budgeting problem of number of resources, or dollars, available, and using the one-two punch of holding totals and adjusting children to evaluate multiple investment choices. Similarly, where a fixed or committed project cannot be affected, holding that project while adjusting all others through simple lever pulls on a column or bar chart.

Improved Usability Features
Much of the terminology that is used in Cognos Insight is based on concepts that are known to users of IBM Cognos TM1. These changes, though subtle, remove terms such as ‘Member’ from commonly accessed menu items in the Cognos Insight UI. This is done in order to make the experience more understandable for all users.

With regards to Access To Formatting, moving the ability to format data to it’s own menu item, makes editing the display of values within the workspace easier to find. Formatting measures and data within a Cognos Insight workspace is a commonly used task that will be required by all users.

Guided Import
For external data files that contain crosstabs, Cognos Insight automatically brings up the Guided Import wizard. For this release though, Cognos Insight is now more able to parse crosstabs. It is very clear to the end user that they are importing a file that contains a crosstab and that they will be redirected to the Guided Import.

Caption Support is important because business users will frequently have data that is assigned a business key, unique identifier, or ID, and this will relate directly to an available name or description column that is what will be used for analysis.

Providing a simple way to add this identification, and further, a way to ensure that they need to create some additional process to support non-unique captions, simplifies the import experience greatly.

IBM Cognos Insight Trial Edition
Cognos Insight 10.1.1 is now available for a 30-day trial edition available. This trial edition is available from Analyticszone.com and has most of the functionality available in the standard edition with the following exceptions

  • Cognos Insight 30 Day Trial only supports xls and csv file import, and not ODBC or Cognos reports or TM1 Cube Views
  • Workspaces created in IBM Cognos Insight 30 Day Trial cannot be shared or published to IBM Cognos BI, IBM Cognos TM1 or IBM Cognos Express servers
  • The banner at the top of the Cognos Insight 30 Day Trial interface clearly indicates that a trial edition of Cognos Insight is being used

Cognos Insight Download Instructions

Cognos Insight Download Instructions

New Cognos Users
There is a Cognos Insight download directly from the IBM Software Online Catalog. The Cognos Insight Standard Edition provides the full set of capabilities including:
· Importing from a variety of sources including spreadsheets, comma separated value files (.CSV) and corporate databases using the ODBC standard interface
· Share and open Insight files (.cdd files) with other Insight users

Existing Cognos Users
You are entitled to use Cognos Insight at no additional cost with the following roles:
· Cognos BI users with the Advanced Business Author role or above (includes Professional Author, BI Professional, BI Administrator or BI Advanced roles), or
· Cognos TM1 users with the TM1 Contributor role or above (includes Modeler role)
When licensed with these user roles, you have all the capabilities of the Insight Standard Edition (above) plus:
· Import data from existing Cognos reports
· Share files using the Cognos Connection portal
· Publish and distribute content to the server for managed deployment
· Extend content created with Insight to other Cognos tools and interfaces like mobile and Web
· Use Insight as the interface to contribute to a managed planning process

How does Entitled Cognos Users Download Cognos Insight?
· For BI users, you need to be on version 10.1.1 and install the “IBM Cognos Connection Installer for Cognos Insight component.” Insight will be installed on the your desktop when you are in Cognos Connections and try to open a document with the Cognos Insight file extension (.cdd). You also have the option of automatically installing Insight to all authorized users or to specific individual users by using the CognosInsight.msi file. For more information click here to access the documentation and go to the section “Remotely Installing Cognos Insight on Multiple Computers.”
· For TM1 users, you need to be on version 10.1. Insight will be installed on the your desktop when you are in Cognos Connections and try to open a document with the Cognos Insight file extension (.cdd). You also have the option of automatically installing Insight to all authorized users or to specific individual users by using the CognosInsight.msi file. For more information click here to access the documentation and go to the section “Installing Cognos Insight Using the Installation Program.”

Please Keep In Mind

Existing BI customers that have Advanced Business Author licenses are entitled to (and should look for) the Cognos Connection Installer for Cognos Insight. This is the server add-on that can be applied which will enable Cognos Insight provisioning from the BI server (Cognos Connection/Welcome Page) for users who are authenticating onto that server.
What many search for is the Cognos Insight Standard Edition (stand-alone), which is not part of the entitlement for existing BI customers. For more information on the Cognos Insight download, contact Lodestar Solutions directly as these downloads are subject to change.

IBM Cognos Insight – What is it?

IBM Cognos Insight.  What is it? What is all the Hype about?  On March 7th, IBM Cognos will release a revolutionary product that will allow IBM Cognos BI Enhanced Consumers the ability to leverage the IBM stack by allowing them to create TM1 models at no additional cost.  If you have not heard of IBM Cognos TM1, it is a 64 bit In-Memory OLAP technology that links finance with operations to deliver new Insight into your data.

By leveraging the industry leading technology found in IBM Cognos TM1, IBM Cognos Insight brings the power of TM1 to the business user.  Through an easy to use drag and drop interface, IBM Cognos Insight gives business users the ability to create multi-dimensional TM1 cubes that can either be stored locally or published to a shared environment for enterprise consumption.

Importing data is very easy, you simply drag and drop files (spreadsheets, .csv or text files) into the workspace. The tool will then analyze the data and create a multi-dimensional TM1 cube.

Exploring your data couldn’t be easier.  Once you have imported your data, you can “slice and dice” the cube to reflect the data in whatever manner is meaningful for you.   The views are updated instantly. You can also perform quick calculations on the fly.  Simply highlight two rows, right click and select the appropriate calculation.  IBM Cognos Insight will create an additional column that will show your results.

Where most business users will find IBM Cognos Insight useful is leveraging the write back capability.  In this highly competitive business environment, a company’s flexibility can determine if they survive.  With IBM Cognos Insight, decision makers can plan for the unexpected and react quicker and with greater confidence as market conditions change.

Existing IBM Cognos customers can download Cognos Insight form the IBM support page.

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