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 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  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

For everything new in Cognos Analytics

For everything new in Planning Analytics

Tips for Acquiring a Cognos Client

Tips for Acquiring a Cognos Client
Tips for Acquiring a Cognos Client
Written by Heather L. Cole, August 4th 2022

There seems to be a trend recently, at Lodestar Solutions we are seeing more and more of our IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics clients in acquisition mode.  Some are buying their competitors, while others are expanding into new geographic territories.  We like to think they are growing through acquisition because their IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics solutions are helping them become strategic.  If you are one of the growing IBM Analytic clients, here are some tips you need to consider if you are acquiring a Cognos client.

Determine What Tools the Acquired Firm Has

When you are in acquisition mode, there’s a lot of work that must happen.  The due diligence phase, the actual acquisition and then when the deal closes, the work of consolidating the organization and possibly the systems.  

At some point in the process, you want to discuss what reporting and planning solutions are used by both firms.  At Lodestar Solutions we recommend you treat this as a mini project where both teams can share the solutions they use and functionality they require.  But here’s a tip, don’t wing it.  You want to impress your new team members, so you want to practice demoing your Cognos or Planning Analytics.  If you are a Lodestar Solutions client, reach out to and we will help coach you on demoing.  If you are not, you should check out my video on demoing software.  This is your time to shine.

As part of this process, we recommend the team collectively creates a list of functional requirements they need to accomplish their work, and then score the various solutions.  You may discover your needs are so diverse it’s best to just keep the solutions each firm has.  Or you may determine it will be best to move your new team members onto Cognos and/or IBM Planning Analytics.  In that event, you will most likely need additional licenses. 

But don’t just call IBM or a partner and buy more users.  Acquiring a Cognos client is a time to evaluate the licensing you have and ensure that you have the correct, most economical licensing based on your new needs and user counts.  At Lodestar Solutions, we offer a complimentary What the Heck Do I Own session where we walk you through your licensing options and determine the best fit for you.  To register for this session, email us at  

If They Own IBM Analytics Licensing

It’s not uncommon for our Cognos or Planning Analtyics clients to acquire a Cognos client.  They may use Cognos, IBM Planning Analytic and/or SPSS.  In that situation there are some very important questions to ponder!   Failure to review these questions could cause you to fail an IBM audit, (see our blog on IBM Audits) pay more than you need for IBM Analytic Software and Support, or lose licenses all together.

Question 1: Are you acquiring the entire organization and therefore all licenses need to be moved?  Or only part of the company in which case you must work with legal or MA team to determine if the purchase of the company includes their IBM licensing? 

You might find that you need to buy additional IBM Analytic Licensing if they were not included in the purchase.

Question 2: Where and under what legal organization should your IBM Licensing be held?

This is important especially if you own on-premise licensing because that is an asset.  Like any asset you want to make sure it is legally owned by the proper company.  But you will also want to determine what location the licensing should be held.  The address of the licensing could have significant impact on whether you are charged sales tax on an additional license purchase and on IBM support fees. 

Once you determine what legal entity you want to own the licensing under, and where, it’s time to communicate the change to IBM and sign some paperwork to legally transfer the asset.  You can contact your IBM Rep or Lodestar Solutions can help you migrate licenses to a single site, or separate.  For help moving sites, and consolidating them, contact

WARNING!  Failure to move licenses to the correct legal entity could result in failing an audit!!!

Question 3: What are the estimated user counts needed after the acquisition?

As part of the process of acquiring a Cognos client, we strongly recommend a licensing review.  This means you want to review your current user types and counts held by both companies.  You may be consolidating some departments so you may not need as many licenses.  Or you may find you have more demand for Cognos, Planning Analytics or SPSS and you need additional users.   If you aren’t sure of what you own, call us for our What the Heck Do I Own session where we walk you through your current licenses and educate you on all the cool new IBM functionality you own today.  To register for this session email us at

Licensing Review

We also recommend you evaluate if after the acquisition and consolidation of your sites, you are even in the correct licensing mix.  At Lodestar Solutions we have worked with many clients optimizing their licensing to save money and allow for growth.  Some clients have benefited from migrating off the typical authorized user model to a more server, or processor value unit model (PVU).  (What the Heck is a PVU)

For more information on licensing options see my Linkedin article.

Lodestar Solutions, IBM Analytics Software Licensing Evaluation Services is available to help you understand your options.  For more information email us at or call us at 813-415-2910.

Question 4: Who should be the IBM Primary Contact?

It is also important to review and update who the contact is on file with IBM.  Failing to have the correct people registered with IBM could cause delays in filing cases with IBM, and not receiving your support renewal quote and risking lapse of support coverage.  Neither are a situation you want to experience.   For more details on how to change your contacts with IBM see our blog, How to Change the Primary Contact Name of IBM Cognos.  Note, this process is the same for IBM Planning Analytics and SPSS.

Contact Us

Hopefully this provided you the information you need to successfully merge your IBM Analytics solution and licensing when you are acquiring a Cognos client.  But you don’t have to go it alone.  Lodestar Solutions is here to help answer all your questions.  Just call us at 813-415-2910 or email