What’s New in IBM Cognos Analytics 12.0.3

What's New in IBM Cognos Analytics 12.0.3
What's New in IBM Cognos Analytics 12.0.3
Written by Mike Bernaiche, May 2nd, 2024

IBM Cognos Analytics is a powerful and flexible platform that enables users to access, analyze, and share data from various sources. It offers a range of capabilities, such as data exploration, dashboarding, reporting, storytelling, and artificial intelligence, to help users discover insights and make informed decisions. With each release, IBM Cognos Analytics introduces new features and improvements to enhance the user experience and performance of the platform. In this blog, we will review some of the most notable changes and additions in the latest version, IBM Cognos Analytics 12.0.3, which was released in April 2024.

General

Content Security Policies: Enhanced support for CSP directives to reduce XSS attack vulnerabilities.

Content Retention Rules: Improved efficiency in the application of content retention rules.

Carbon Design System: Adoption of the IBM Carbon Design System for a streamlined user experience across IBM products.

Assistant

Enhanced answers for queries on main factors and influences: When you ask the Assistant to display the main factors and influences that affect your data, the Assistant now shows enhanced answers.

Enhanced answers for queries on main factors and influences in CA 12.0.3

Dashboarding

Creating dashboards automatically from the quick launch scenarios: The quick launch scenarios on the welcome page of Cognos Analytics, Upload and Create from existing data, now have an option to generate a dashboard automatically based on the data source that you upload or choose.

Creating dashboards automatically from the quick launch scenarios in CA 12.0.3

Adjusting table columns: You can now change the size of columns in table visualizations.

Improvements to drill-through: The dashboard drill-through definition dialog box was improved to make the user experience with parameters better. The parameters in the drill-through definition are now sorted, with the broken parameters shown first. A filter is also added that lets you show the parameters based on their mapping state.

Styling single headers in a crosstab: You can now style text of single column and row headers in crosstab.

Custom labels for data columns: You can give custom labels to data columns in dashboards.

Showing value in a legend: Use the Value in legend property to specify what value a legend is showing.

Showing value in a legend in CA 12.0.3

Setting the maximum number of items in a legend: Use the Maximum items in legend property to specify the maximum number of items to appear in a legend for a visualization that supports this property.

Setting the maximum number of items in a legend in CA 12.0.3

Mapbox Boundaries v4: Cognos Analytics 12.0.3 now uses Mapbox Boundaries v4. The updated version implements adm3 (township, town, charter township) and adm4 (city, town, village) boundaries from Mapbox for US and for all other countries. It also adds over 30,000 new postcode boundaries.

Reporting

Adding native custom controls to the toolbox directly:  You can now create and upload an extension for custom control and put it in the Insertable Objects toolbox.

JavaScript API function to check saved report output: A new JavaScript API function, isSavedOutput(), is added to the scriptable report APIs. You can use this function to check if a report is a saved report output.

New and improved JavaScript API documentation: The JavaScript documentation explains the APIs that you can use to add custom features to reports.

CCLLocaleGenerator Tool: The CCLLocaleGenerator Tool uses the local information from the cognos_analytics_install\configuration\i18n_res.xml file and creates the prompting configuration files.

Setting the maximum number of items in a legend: Use the Maximum items in legend property to specify the maximum number of items to appear in a legend for a visualization that supports this property.

Setting the maximum number of items in a legend in CA 12.0.3 (2)

Mapbox Boundaries v4: As of release 12.0.3, maps use Mapbox Boundaries v4. The updated version implements adm3 (township, town, charter township) and adm4 (city, town, village) boundaries from Mapbox for US and for all other countries. It also adds over 30,000 new postcode boundaries.

Modeling

Importing and enhancing OLAP metadata: Use the Load metadata option in the administration user interface to load and enhance the metadata for OLAP data sources. An enriched cube includes the data characteristics that are required for the product AI-based functionality, such as forecasting in dashboards, to work.

Unified method of creating OLAP-based data modules: Data modules that use OLAP data sources are now created using the same method as data modules that use relational data sources. The supported data server connection types include IBM Planning Analytics, IBM Planning Analytics as a Service, Microsoft Analysis Services, Microsoft Azure Analysis Services, and other OLAP connections.

Additional Areas

Summary

If you are looking for a powerful and user-friendly business intelligence tool, you might want to consider upgrading to Cognos Analytics 12.0.3. This latest version of IBM's flagship product offers many new features and enhancements, such as improved dashboarding, data exploration, storytelling, and reporting capabilities. You can also benefit from the enhanced security, performance, and scalability of Cognos Analytics.

Whether you are new to Cognos Analytics or an existing user, you don't want to miss this opportunity to take your business intelligence to the next level. Contact Lodestar Solutions today at services@lodestarsolutions.com to discuss your unique needs and get started with Cognos Analytics 12.0.3.

Elevate Your Analytics: Why You Should Upgrade to Cognos Analytics 12

Elevate Your Analytics: Why You Should Upgrade to Cognos Analytics 12
Elevate Your Analytics: Why You Should Upgrade to Cognos Analytics 12
Written by Mike Bernaiche, September 13th, 2023

With the release of Cognos Analytics 12 in June 2023, IBM has taken a product with a long history and redefined what business intelligence means.  In the fast-paced world of business intelligence, staying ahead of the curve is essential for making data-driven decisions that drive success. For years, IBM Cognos Analytics has been a reliable companion for organizations seeking powerful insights, and with the release of Cognos Analytics 12, the benefits have reached new heights. If you're still contemplating whether to upgrade, this blog will delve deeper into compelling reasons why you should make the leap to Cognos Analytics 12.

Modern and Intuitive User Experience

Modern and Intuitive User Experience in CA 12

One of the standout features of Cognos Analytics 12 is its sleek and intuitive user interface. The redesign goes beyond aesthetics; it offers a streamlined and contemporary look, making it easier for both novice and experienced users to navigate and work with data. This modernization enhances the overall user experience, boosting productivity and reducing the learning curve, enabling your team to make quicker, more informed decisions. Start anywhere, go anywhere is the way forward.  Utilizing the new welcome page where the Assistant is front and center, makes getting started easier than ever.

Enhanced Data Visualization

Enhanced Data Visualization in CA 12

Data visualization is at the heart of any effective business intelligence tool, and Cognos Analytics 12 takes this to a new level. With advanced charting options, improved data storytelling capabilities, and more interactive dashboards, you can now transform your raw data into compelling visual narratives. This upgrade enables your organization to communicate insights more effectively and engage stakeholders with data-driven stories, making your data more impactful than ever before.  With 36 modern visualizations included with the product plus the ability to add custom visualizations, Cognos Analytics 12 is a visualization powerhouse.

AI-Powered Insights

AI-Powered Insights in CA 12

Cognos Analytics 12 harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to help you unearth hidden trends and patterns in your data. The AI-driven features provide smart recommendations, automated data preparation, and predictive analytics, empowering users to make data-driven decisions with confidence. It's like having a data scientist at your fingertips, helping you extract actionable insights effortlessly. This AI integration not only saves time but also opens new avenues for data analysis.

Scalability and Performance

As your organization grows, so does the volume of data you need to analyze. Cognos Analytics 12 is built for scalability, ensuring it can handle large datasets and complex analytics without compromising on performance. Whether you have a small team or an enterprise-level organization, this upgrade will support your data needs today and in the future. You can scale your data analytics as your business expands without worrying about bottlenecks or slowdowns.

Integration Capabilities

Seamless integration with other data sources and systems is crucial for a comprehensive business intelligence solution. Cognos Analytics 12 offers enhanced integration capabilities, making it easier to connect to various data sources, such as cloud-based services, data warehouses, and external databases. This means you can centralize your data and access a unified view of your organization's information, breaking down silos and enabling cross-functional analysis.

Enhanced Data Governance and Security

Data governance and security are paramount in the age of data privacy regulations and cyber threats. Cognos Analytics 12 includes robust features for data governance, allowing you to define and enforce data policies, monitor data usage, and ensure compliance. Enhanced security measures protect your sensitive data from unauthorized access, giving you peace of mind when handling critical information. With data breaches on the rise, investing in a secure solution is non-negotiable.  Be secure in the knowledge that your data is safe and governed, while your users are analyzing a single source of the truth.

Collaboration and Sharing

Collaboration is key to fostering a data-driven culture within your organization. Cognos Analytics 12 offers improved collaboration tools, allowing teams to work together seamlessly. Users can share insights, reports, and dashboards easily, facilitating knowledge sharing and decision-making across the organization. Whether your teams are in the same office or spread across the globe, this level of collaboration ensures that insights are accessible to everyone who needs them.  With integrations for Slack and Microsoft Teams, collaboration and sharing have never been so easy. 

Call to Action - Upgrade Now to Cognos Analytics 12

What are you waiting for?  If you are looking to upgrade your existing Cognos Analytics environment reach out to us at services@lodestarsolutions.com today!  We have excellent upgrade bundles that save you time and money and more importantly, give you the power of Cognos Analytics 12.  If you are on Cognos Analytics 11.1.7 or an earlier version, you need to upgrade today.  Support will soon run out on all versions prior to 11.2.  Now is a great time to plan your upgrade.  Reach out to us for our upgrade checklist to make this process easy and efficient.  You can read here about the end of support for 11.1.7.  

Conclusion

In a world where data is the lifeblood of modern businesses, upgrading to Cognos Analytics 12 is not just a smart move; it's a strategic imperative. With its modern user interface, AI-powered insights, scalability, and enhanced security, this latest version is designed to meet the evolving demands of the business intelligence landscape. Don't miss out on the opportunity to empower your team with the tools they need to extract valuable insights from your data and drive success. Upgrade to Cognos Analytics 12 today and stay ahead of the competition. Elevate your business intelligence, and the results will speak for themselves.

Still not convinced you need to upgrade? Check out our Cognos Analytics 12 Demo!


For those reading this that are involved in your business's planning and budgeting process.  Register for the next big event. 

The Pain of Outgrowing Excel Midmarket CFOs Discover Relief with IBM Planning Analytics

New in Cognos Analytics 11.2.4 – Important Information!

New in Cognos Analytics 11.2.4
New in Cognos Analytics 11.2.4

In December 2022, IBM released Cognos Analytics 11.2.4. There are several efficiency enhancements, changes, and some very important information on future releases.  Please read below for all the important information. 

In summary Cognos Analytics 11.2.4 provides the following:

  •  Query engine performance improvements
  • Microsoft™ Teams integration for Cognos reports
  • Data source support
  • Capability to render maps in PDF and Excel
  • Natural language generation in dashboards
  • Themes support for toolbar colors

Now on to the details of these additions and more!

Long Term Support

IBM Cognos Analytics 11.2.4 is a long-term support release (LTSR) and provides standard support for a minimum of two years with an available one-year extended support option to provide coverage for a total of three years minimum.  IBM provides defect corrections, security patches, and select conformance updates on Cognos Analytics 11.2.4 as needed during the supported period.

Why is this important?  Cognos Analytics 11.1.7 was the previous LTSR and with this release the new LTSR is Cognos Analytics 11.2.4.  This means that you should start to make plans to upgrade from any version prior to 11.2.4 soon.  At a minimum, you should be on version 11.1.7 today.

Cognos Analytics 11.2.4

Legacy Studios

Cognos Analytics 11.2.4 (LTSR) is the final release that includes IBM Cognos Query Studio, IBM Cognos Analysis Studio, and IBM Cognos Workspace.  Support for Cognos Query Studio, Cognos Analysis Studio, and Cognos Workspace will not be continued after the current release.

What does this mean?  You will still have support and availability of Query Studio, Analysis Studio and Cognos Workspace on version 11.2.4.  Once you upgrade past 11.2.4, support will NOT be available through IBM and the studios will not be available in Cognos Analytics.  I highly suggest you start planning to upgrade to Cognos Analytics 11.2.4, however, I also suggest you start to make a plan for the above studios to go away.  How does that change what you do today and what can we do to help you through this transition?  Reach out to us at services@lodestarsolutions.com to start these discussions.

Hardware and Software Requirements

Something we don’t highlight enough are the requirements for Cognos Analytics.  IBM provides links to each of these requirements, and I suggest from time to time, clicking on this link to read the latest and verify your set up.  

We can also help you through this by reaching out to us at services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Ok, on to the enhancements and product changes in Cognos Analytics 11.2.4.

Assistant

Support for Assistant capabilities on data sources - The Use Assistant capability can now be set at the source level.  Previously, capability to use the Assistant was set at the user level.  When the Use Assistant capability is enabled on a source, you can interact with the source in the Assistant and ask questions or create a visualization or dashboard.

When you open the assistant panel, the source is set to the active data source that is in Dashboard or Explore, depending on which component you open the assistant panel from.  If you do not have Use Assistant capability for the source, you might be prompted to select a source before you can proceed. If you do not have Use Assistant capability on a specific source, when you enter Show source <source name>, the Assistant displays a message indicating that the package cannot be used.

Dashboards

Narrative Insights - Narrative Insights derive and leverage data from outside the visualization (such as by using other measures, categories, or time dimensions) to explain or highlight potential drivers, underlying causes, or further breakdown data.  These are different from insights that were released in Cognos Analytics 11.1.3.  The new auto-generated narrative insights are in natural language, making it easier to read and understand these insights.  Think explorations inside a dashboard visualization.

Narrative Insights in Dashboards

Zoom Levels on Dashboard Canvas -

Zoom Levels on Dashboard Canvas
Zoom Levels on Dashboard Canvas2

Zoom Bar – the zoom bar in now in bubble, line, column and scatter charts.  You can use this bar to zoom in on individual visualizaitons and drive deeper insights.

Bubble Size Limits – you can now spicify the minimun and maximun size on bubble charts.

Alignment position for zero in line and column charts - In line and column visualizations, you can control whether or not the line and column sections have zero in the same position.

Handleing missing values in line visualizations – you can specify how missing values are now handled in line visualizaitons.

Data Labels in Visualizations - You can show value labels in line visualizations and line and column visualizations so that the data values are clearer.

Reporting

New VIDA Image Service - A new service, VIDA Image Service, is introduced in Cognos Analytics 11.2.4.  This service allows Cognos Analytics reports to render maps and other visualizations into PDF and Excel formats.  In previous releases, these visualizations were available only in HTML format.

VIDA Image Service supports these chart types:

  • Map (Tiledmap using MapBox API)
  • Donut
  • Treemap
  • Bullet
  • Marimekko

To learn about installing the VIDA image service please click here

Embedded Reports in Microsoft Teams – you can now add a tab within teams to embed a Cognos Analytics Report.

Bulk Conversion of Query and Analysis Reports - Convert a group object of type query (Query Studio report) or analysis (Analysis Studio report) to objects of type report.  This supports the deprecation of Query Studio and Analysis Studio and allows you to migrate your analysis and query content to Cognos Analytics Reporting.

Bulk Conversion of Query and Analysis Reports

For instruction on how to accomplish this please see this link.  

Trend Lines in Bubble and Scatter Visualizaitons - You can apply a trendline to the X- and Y-axis data items in bubble and scatter visualizations.  Apply trendlines to X- and Y-axis data items to illustrate trends in those specific items, typically when charting predictions.

PDF Drill Behavior - Drill-through behavior in PDF reports is changed to work similarly as in Cognos® Analytics 11.1.7.  In Cognos Analytics 11.1.7 and earlier versions, PDF drill through was supported only in Internet Explorer, using Adobe Acrobat Reader.  Acrobat Reader provided a mechanism that allowed for generation of self-contained PDFs where the drill-through information was encapsulated in the PDF. Drill-through links worked as long as the PDF was viewed in Acrobat Reader.

Starting in Cognos Analytics 11.2.0, PDF drill through became available in all supported browsers and their respective PDF viewers. Because some of the viewers don't provide the same functionality as Acrobat Reader, the PDF output needed to be saved in Cognos Analytics for the drill-through links to work.

For cases where the PDF output is not saved in Cognos Analytics, a change is delivered in this release (11.2.4) that allows the drill-through links to work like they did in Cognos Analytics 11.1.7: in self-contained PDF reports that can be viewed in Adobe Acrobat Reader. The drill-through links don't work if the PDF report is opened outside of Cognos Analytics, in a viewer other than Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Downloaded PDF reports can be opened in any PDF viewer. However, drill-through links work only in the following situations:

  • The downloaded PDF report is viewed in Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  • The report output is saved in Cognos Analytics, such as when running a report in the background and selecting the Save Delivery option.

Modeling

Dynamic Source Override - Data modules can be dynamically redirected to different data server connections, schemas, or catalogs at run time.

Convert and Relink Option Available for All Types of Tables - The Convert and relink option is now available for all types of referenced tables, including the except, intersect, join, union, and SQL-based tables.

Current_date Sesison Parameter added for Dynamic Query Mode

Administration

There are serval additions and changes for administrators.  For all that information please see this link. 

Summary

There is a lot going on with Cognos Analytics 11.2.4 and we are here to help!  Please reach out to us at services@lodestarsolutions.com and let our experts help you with this transition.  As mentioned earlier, please start to plan for upgrading to Cognos Analytics 11.2.4 and beyond.  Especially with the Query and Analysis studio announcement, planning is even more important.

New in Cognos Analytics 11.2.3

What's New in Cognos Analytics 11.2.3
Written by Mike Bernaiche, September 8th, 2022

At the end of August 2022, IBM released Cognos Analytics 11.2.3.  There is a lot to unpack in the release as IBM has been hard at work enhancing Cognos Analytics.  Below you will find all the details of what is new, what has changed and what has been removed.  As always, if you have any questions or want to discuss an upgrade please reach out to us at services@lodestarsoltuins.com.

Feature Updates

  • Integrations with Microsoft Teams - Much like Slack integration of past versions, IBM Cognos Analytics 11.2.3 now supports Teams integration.  Share dashboard and report content along with messages in Teams. Please note, your company must be using the Microsoft 365 developer program with an E5 subscription.
  • Use the up down arrows – utilize the up and down arrows to move through certain menus and content areas.  Previous versions only supported the tab button.
  • Full page property view – view properties for an item in full screen view.
  • Context sensitive search – define the context of your search and see only items in that context, also a new tab that shows all search results.

Assistant

  • Enhanced Time Filtering – The Assistant now understands even more time related searches.  Use text like YTD, QTD, MTD and abbreviations like Mon for Monday and Thur for Thursday and Xmas for Christmas to narrow you search in the assistant.

Dashboards

  • Insights and Forecast on New Analytics Panel – Open the Analytics Panel to turn on or off insights and forecast.
  • Create a multivariant Forecast – You can now add in optional data points to take into account in your forecast in Cognos Analytics 11.2.3.  For more information check out this link, Creating a multivariate forecast - IBM Documentation.
Dashboards in Cogons 11.2.3
Dashboards in Cognos 11.2.3 v2
  • Enhanced Forecasting with the Watson Core Time Series Library - Using the Watson Core Time - Series Library increases the prediction accuracy of the forecasts and allows the use of multiple seasons (or nested seasons).  Time series that have regular repeating cycles can be modeled with a seasonal component.
  • Embedded Dashboard in Microsoft Teams - In Microsoft Teams, you can add a tab with an embedded dashboard from an external Cognos Analytics environment.  On any platform, Teams users can then perform interactive analyses of the dashboard without having to log in to Cognos Analytics themselves.
  • Cascading Filters – There is a lot to unpack in Cascading Filters.  Check out this excellent link from IBM.  Cascading filters - IBM Documentation
  • New Bar Visualization –

The bar chart includes the following value label formats:

  •  Value and percentage of category – two values in the value label
  • Value and percentage of color – two values in the value label    
  • Value delta of target
  • Percentage delta of target
New Bar Visualization in Cognos Analytics 11.2.3
  • New Area Visualization – a new gradient option on the area chart.
New Area Visualization in Cognos Analytics 11.2.3
  • Tree map Visualizations Enhancements - Leaf labels in treemap visualizations can now be shown as value, item, or both.
  • Area and Line Visualization Enhancements – A property has been added to handle null values in a better way.
  • Display Multiple Measures on Rows Instead of Columns in a Crosstab.

For all dashboard enhancements check out this link. Dashboards - IBM Documentation

Explorations

Explorations has been enhanced with the following.  For complete details see the dashboard section as these are the same.

  •  Insights and Forecasts in New Analytics Panel
  • Enhanced Time Forecast with Watson Core Time Series Library
  • Multi Variant Forecasting

Reporting

  • Controlling Drill Through Behavior when Context Filters are used - You can change the default package-based drill-through behavior in Cognos® Analytics - Reporting when using context filters.
  • New Treemap Visualization – as discussed above under Dashboards.
  • New Properties for Bubble and Scatter Charts – The new properties allow you to specify the border width color, and size of bubbles, minimum and maximum size of bubbles, and label rotation.

For a complete list of Reporting enhancements check out this link. Reporting - IBM Documentation

Other Enhancements

Depreciated or Removed

In Cognos Analytics 11.2.3 the following is not supported:

  • Windows 8 and 8.1
  • Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) 7.5
  • IBM InfoSphere Information Server 11.3 and 11.5
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0
  • IBM Connections
  • Mozilla Firefox ESR 68 and ESR 78
  • Adobe Reader XI and DC
  • FileNet Content Manager 5.2

Removed Data Source Connectors

As of release 11.2.3, connectors for several types of data sources are removed from IBM Cognos Analytics with Watson.  If you have existing connections to these data source types, they will no longer work.

Connectors are removed for these data source types:

  • IBM Weather Company
  • TM1
  • IBM Planning Analytics versions prior to 2.0.6
  • Microsoft Analysis Services (OLEDB) versions prior to SQL Server 2016 Service Pack 2

Depreciated Data Source Connections

In a future version of Cognos Analytics, support will be removed for the following data source connections:

  1. Planning Analytics 2.0.6 - 2.0.8
  2. Snowflake prior to 3.10
  3. Oracle Database 11g and 12c
  • Oracle Database 11g Standard Edition Release 2
  • Oracle Database 11g Enterprise Edition Release 2
  • Oracle Database 12c Release 2 (12.2) Standard Edition
  • Oracle Database 12c Release 2 (12.2) Enterprise Edition
  • Oracle Database 12c Release 1 (12.1.0.0.0) Enterprise Edition
  • Oracle Database 12c Release 1 (12.1.0.0.0) Standard Edition
  • Oracle Database 12c Release 1 (12.1.0.1.0) Standard Edition

4. IBM Db2 Server 10.5

  • IBM Db2 Advanced Enterprise Server Edition 10.5
  • Db2 Express Server Edition 10.5
  • DB2 Workgroup Server Edition 10.5
  • DB2 Enterprise Server Edition 10.5
  • DB2 Advanced Workgroup Server Edition 10.5

5. Essbase

Supported Versions of Cognos Analytics from IBM

Reminder that Cognos Analytics version 11.0.x end of support was in September of 2021.  Cognos Analytics 11.1.7 is the long-term support version and we HIGHLY recommend you are on that version or later.  What happens when you are on an older unsupported version?  Well in a few words, you will be asked to upgrade to a latest supported version and will not receive support directly from IBM.

Summary

As you can see Cognos Analytics 11.2.3 offers a lot of new features and enhancements.  Schedule your upgrade now with us at services@lodestarsolutions.com.  We would also be happy to schedule a demo with you to see if this version is right for you!

IBM Cognos Analytics for Office – PowerPoint Edition

IBM Cognos Analytics for Office – PowerPoint Edition
IBM Cognos Analytics for Office – PowerPoint Edition
Written by Mike Bernaiche, April 21st 2022

I am sure some of you reading can relate to this situation.  Management reporting is due each month and quarter and you spend hours searching for updated numbers and then copying or typing numbers into your PowerPoint presentation, hoping you grabbed the correct data points.  Then you complete your presentation, and someone adjusted a few numbers and now it must be redone.  Now you are working late on Friday to finish.  It is frustrating, I know, I have been in your shoes.  I have a wonderful solution for you, IBM Cognos Analytics for Office.  This product has been around for a long time, but you don’t see a lot written or shown on it.  If you could solve the issue above with a couple of clicks inside of PowerPoint, isn’t it worth it?  The best news is, if you own IBM Cognos Analytics you own IBM Cognos Analytics for Office.  All you need to do is install the product and anyone licensed with a user license or higher in Cognos Analytics has access.

What is IBM Cognos Analytics for Office?

IBM Cognos Analytics for 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 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 Data Can I Use?

In short, if the data is in Cognos Analytics you can embed it into PowerPoint, Word or connect with Excel.  What does that mean?  Flat files uploaded to Cognos, data base connections, Framework Manager models, Transformer models and Planning Analytics / TM1 models.  You will see in the below screen shot the contents of the team content area.  You can also use the “my folders” area as well.

What Data can be used for IBM Cognos Analytics for Office

How to Get Started

  1.  Install Cognos Analytics for Office on each user’s local machine and ensure that the IBM Framework for Office add in is enabled.  Installing IBM Cognos for Microsoft Office - IBM Documentation
  2. Click the connect button and set up your connection to your Cognos Analytics environment.  You will use your connection URL to your Cognos system.
  3. Click the IBM Cognos for Microsoft Office button and connect.  You should now see the tree of folders and packages in the task pane.

Now that the connection has been created, it is time to start to bring the data into PowerPoint.

  1.  You need to create the report objects in Cognos Analytics.  You create either a list or crosstab report for the data that is required in your presentation.
  2. Once the report is created simply save it to a location in team content or my content.
  3. Now start to create your presentation and go to the location in the task pain and select the report you need for the particular slide you are working on.
  4. Either double click or right click and insert report.
  5. You can add format options for the chart such as colors, dollar signs, bold type, etc. directly in Excel.
  6. Also, by changing the way you bring in the report you can create a chart and apply options to the charts directly inside of PowerPoint.
  7. Once you have completed your presentation you can simply refresh the data by clicking on the refresh data button in the IBM taskbar.

Examples:

Summary

As you can read it is pretty simple but powerful to use the IBM Cognos Analytics for Office add in.  You can save many hours of work by creating the templates and just refreshing the data each time you need to update the presentations.  If you need help or want to discuss, please reach out to services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Did you find this blog helpful?  If so, be sure to check out our website and see all our latest blogs.  We release a new blog each week full of helpful information for IBM Cognos licensing or on other Business Inteligence topics. Check us out at www.lodestarsolutions.com.

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.

Benefits of Diversifying Your IBM Planning Analytics and Cognos Consultants

Benefits of Diversifying Your IBM Planning Analytics and Cognos Consultants
Benefits of Diversifying Your IBM Planning Analytics and Cognos Consultants
Written by Heather L. Cole, February 24th 2022

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!  It’s quote we often hear in reference to investing.  There are horror stories of people who put all their money in the stock of one company like Enron or one investment advisor like Bernie Madoff only to watch their life savings go poof!  But did you know that saying also applies to hiring consultants?  Today we will discuss the Benefits of Diversifying your IBM Planning Analytics and Cognos Consultants. Diversifying your IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics Consultants means you work with more than one consulting firm. 

Having a Second Set of Eyes

Have you ever had a problem you were trying to solve and just wanted to have a second set of eyes?   Or maybe you have a repetitive task, and you think, “there has to be a better way”.   Whenever I have that thought, I reach out to someone I think will know the answers.   It took me years to learn, but I now know that although I probably could figure out the problem myself, time is the most limited resource we have.  And if I just phone another IBM Planning Analytics or Cognos expert in my network, I can solve the problem in a fraction of the time. 

If you diversify and contract with multiple Cognos consulting firms, and you have access to not just the consultants assigned to you, but also their teams.  The bigger your network the faster you will get answers.

But let me share a little secret, if a consultant makes a mistake, many firms will back them and their work.  They don’t want to admit that a mistake was made.  By diversifying and using more than one Cognos or IBM Planning analytics consulting firm you have a built in BS detector.

Diverse Offerings & Experience

The next benefit of diversifying your IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics consultants is that firms often time have different offerings.  One might be really good at Data Warehousing and Planning Analytics, whereas another might offer executive strategy sessions to discover what really needs to be designed.  Additionally, one might have a financial service background while another distribution.  Believe it or not, you can benefit from someone with industry expertise that is different from your own, as they can bring innovative ideas to your project.

Different Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics partners have different offerings and expertise.  You can benefit from their wealth of knowledge.  In the U.S. most of the partners know each other and many partner with each other all the time.

Knowledge of New Releases

Not all Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics consulting firms invest in educating their teams on the latest versions.  Candidly if they are primarily focused on billing and revenue generation, training takes away from billing.  So, there could be functionality that is available in a new release that your consultant doesn’t know about.  By diversifying your Cognos consultants, you increase the likelihood of leveraging the latest functionality.  At Lodestar Solutions, we pride ourselves on educating our clients on what’s new every quarter. 

Knowledge saves time and money copy

Knowledge of IBM Licensing

Did you know there are Cognos and IBM Planning Analytic consulting firms that don’t know IBM licensing?  Yes, there are some amazing consultants that are fabulous on the product but don’t know how to save you money on your IBM licensing and IBM support renewals.  Lodestar Solutions has many clients that came to us after working with another partner and failing an IBM Audit.  It doesn’t have to be that way!  By diversifying and working with a partner that understands licensing you can save money and reduce the risk of failing an audit. Here’s a link to our webinar on, How to Avoid Failing an IBM Analytics Audit.   And our blog, How to Save Money on Support Renewals

 If you have IBM licensing questions or are in the middle of an IBM audit, email us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Additional Client Offerings

Finally, a big benefit of working with multiple Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics consultants is that some offer client only benefits.  For example, at Lodestar Solutions we host a client only virtual user group every quarter where we share the new releases, what works and what doesn’t, and have straight talk.  We share 3rd party tools we think clients will benefit from and we network with our peers.  But that’s not all, we record the sessions, so clients can access our client only portal and watch the sessions at any time.   Our clients love the user groups, but it is a closed group.  

Want to participate, in our next user group?  Have us quote your IBM support renewal.  Email Renewals@lodestarsolutions.com for a license evaluation and renewal quote.

Tips in Working with Multiple IBM Planning Analytics and Cognos Consulting Firms

Now that I have shared some of the benefits of diversifying your IBM Planning Analytics and Cognos Consultants.  I want to share a few more tips. 

  •  Be transparent.  Don’t hide the fact you are working with multiple firms, find firms that can work together.
  • Find a firm like Lodestar that is willing to subcontract other firms, so you have the diversification but one stop shopping.
  • Interview a few firms and ask around about their strengths.  Here’s a link to where you can find IBM Partners. 
  • Check Linkedin and see how well connected their team members are.  A strong network can provide rapid, creative solutions.

Next Step

Let’s talk about your project and challenges.  Lodestar Solutions can help you diversify your consultants, save money on IBM licensing and support, learn the latest version and network with your peers.  We would love the opportunity to be one of your go to partners and show you the benefits of diversifying your IBM Planning Analytics and Cognos Consultants.  Contact us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com for a complimentary review.

IBM Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics Virtual User Group

Lodestar Solutions Virtual User Group
Lodestar Solutions Virtual User Group
Written by Mike Bernaiche, August 26th 2021

Are you looking for more information on IBM Cognos or Planning Analytics?  Do you want to have a space where you can ask your peers real questions about the products, set up or use cases?  Did you know that Lodestar hosts a client only virtual user group every quarter that provides a ton of information and value?  Even better, all sessions are recorded and stored on our virtual Kajabi (www.kajabi.com) site so you can watch on your own time or again for pieces of information that were important to you.  Best of all, this is a free service for our clients.  Use this as a guide to find the sessions important to you and log in to watch or download supporting materials.  We have covered a ton of topics in our first 4 user groups.  Below I will break down what was covered in each.

November 2020

We spent the first part of our first user group talking about IBM Planning Analytics.  We covered the following:

  • What’s New and the Power of Planning Analytics Workspace
  • Client story – Journey to Planning Analytics and Getting Funding Approved
  • Client Networking Session

We then moved to a technical segment, where we covered:

  •  Planning Analytics Upgrades and Migrations
  • Cognos Analytics Upgrades and Migrations

The last sessions were all about Cognos Analytics and covered the following:

  • What’s New in Cognos Analytics
  • Client story – Using Customizations to “Skin” Cognos Analytics to Make it Your Own
  • Client Networking Session

We covered a lot of information back in November.  The great news is that if you missed it or need to watch again, simply log into the virtual site and watch.

February 2021

In our second user group we covered some items in Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics but also spent some time discussing Motio Products (www.motio.com) to administrate the environments.  Below is the list of topics.

  • Planning Analytics for Excel – Tips, Tricks and Demo
  • Deep Dive on PVU’s (Processor Value Units) and ILMT (IBM License Metric Tool)
  • Planning Analytics Administration using Soterre from Motio  Soterre - Motio
  • Cognos Analytics Data Modules and Data Sets Demo
  • Cognos Analytics Administration using Motio PI / PI Pro. MotioPI - Motio

Did you know that Lodestar Solutions is a reseller for Motio products?  Contact us services@lodestarsolutions.com to talk to us about everything that Motio can do for your Cognos Analytics or Planning Analytics deployments.

May 2021

As IBM continues to release new versions and many enhancements to both Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics, we continue to provide updates on the new versions.  In this virtual user group, we talked about everything new in both products and so much more.  Before I get to that, did you know that Lodestar writes blogs every week and we cover new releases soon after they are released?  Here are links to the latest blogs on that topic.

Topics covered in May 2021:

  • Planning Analytics Workspace Update
  • Discussion on How to Leverage Planning Analytics Workspace
  • Using TM1Connect (TM1Connect) to Leverage PA in Non-Cognos BI Solutions
  • Client Networking Session
  • Planning Analytics Technical Q&A
  • What’s New in Cognos Analytics 11.2
  • Cognos Analytics vs. Power BI Open Conversation
  • Cognos Analytics Technical Q&A

Lodestar solutions is a reseller of TM1Connect and our clients are having great success using it.  Reach out to us at services@lodestarsolutions.com to set up a demo and see if TM1 Connect is right for you.

August 2021

Our most recent virtual user group we decided to break up Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics into two different days. 

Day 1 was focused on Cognos Analytics and covered:

  • Piloting Solutions Successfully with Cognos Analytics
  • The New Cognos Analytics Mobile Demo
  • Cognos Mobile Technical Session
  • IBM Public Hybrid Cloud
  • Managing the Demands of End Users while Looking Like a Rockstar
  • Partnering with Finance for Greater Success
  • How to get a Raise or Promotion as a BI Expert

Day 2 was focused on Planning Analytics and covered:

  • Bursting Planning Analytics Reports using ReportWORQ ReportWORQ - Enterprise Report Distribution | QueBIT
  • Managing the Demands of End Users while Looking like a Rockstar
  • Scorecards and Metrics in Planning Analytics
  • IBM Public Hybrid Cloud
  • Planning Analytics Technical Update
  • Partnering with your BI or DW team
  • How to Get a Raise or Promotion as a Planning Expert

Did you know that Lodestar Solutions is a reseller of QueBIT products including ReportWORQ.  Contact us today at services@lodestarsolutions.com to discuss and demo this great product.

Virtual User Group - Summary and Next Steps

As you can read, Lodestar Solutions has covered a ton of information in our first four user groups.  Our next user group will be sometime in November.  If you are a Lodestar client and you do not have access to the virtual site, please reach out to us at services@lodestarsolutions.com.  We can get you set up easily and you will have access to everything above and any future events.  If you are not a Lodestar client reach out to us and chat with us about your licenses, renewals or service needs.

What’s New in Cognos Analytics 11.2

What's New in Cognos Analytics 11.2
What's New in Cognos Analytics 11.2
Written by Mike Bernaiche on June 10th, 2021

The next major update from IBM on the Cognos Analytics platform was released in late May.  Cognos Analytics 11.2 brings several enhancements improvements and a new user interface.  I will detail a few of the new items below.

User Interface

IBM has moved to Carbon, the IBM open-source design system for digital product and experience.  Personally, I believe it is a beautiful interface, very clean and makes sense as you move throughout the product. 

  •  Welcome Page – A quick launch and samples area has been added to the welcome screen.  This is for ease of use and efficiency.
  • Open Menu – Compact point to enter any area of Cognos Analytics 11.2.
Open Menu
  •  Full page content viewer – Here you will find your content, team content and samples in a full page view.  You can switch between tiles and a list view.
  • Search and Assistant – these items have been moved to the global content bar.
  • Edit Icon – Is now a toggle button at the top of dashboards, reports, etc.

For the complete list of changes to the welcome pane and user experience please check out this link from IBM.  Getting started - IBM Documentation

Dashboards

There are a couple of new changes to dashboards in Cognos Analytics 11.2.  They include:

  •  2 New Visualizations – Boxplot and Radar.  These visualization are also available in Explorations.
Boxplot
Radar
  •  Show labels on maps in local language. 

Notebooks

New in Cognos Analytics 11.2, if you have access to an external Watson environment enabled, you can import notebooks that were authored in IBM Watson Studio and use that data in reports or dashboards.

Reporting

A number of items were added to reporting in Cognos Analytics 11.2.  They include:

  • Add baseline to visualization using layout or query calculation.  Baselines are horizontal or vertical lines that cut through the chart to indicate major divisions in the data.
Reporting
  •  Local language labels in Maps - as in dashboard, you can show the local language in maps in Cognos Analytics 11.2.
  • New Themes – Carbo X Light and Carbon X dark are now available in reporting.
  • Support for PDF drill actions in Chrome and Firefox.

For the complete list of new items in reporting please check out this link from IBM. Reporting - IBM Documentation.

Modeling

  •  Navigation Path Enhancements – Navigation paths are now grouped into a folder named Navigation Paths and allows for a much cleaner and efficient use.
Navigation Enhancements
  •  Java Examples for modeling – using the rest API you can now perform the following:

- Load metadata
- Load metadata with select tables
- Reload metadata
- Upload new files
- Replace uploaded files
- Append to uploaded files

To access the examples and readme.txt, navigate to ../sdk/modeling/java/examples in your local installation.

Administration, Installation and Configuration

For more information on all of the changes in administration and installation of the product, please check out these links.

Administration - IBM Documentation

Installation and configuration - IBM Documentation

Call to Action

As you can read IBM has made a number of enhancements to Cognos Analytics 11.2.  Many of them are based on the user experience and I believe that is setting the stage for some great customizations and enhancements in future releases.  As of now, I believe Cognos Analytics 11.2.1 will be released in early fall and from what I have heard, it could be a very exciting release. 

Recently Lodestar Solutions created an Upgrade Bundle to help our clients with the upgrade process on both Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics.  The bundle includes technical support hours as well.  Trust me when I tell you this is a great deal!  For more information check out this blog on

Solving the IBM Cognos Upgrade Challenge - Lodestar Solutions.

If you have questions regarding Cognos Analytics 11.2 or the upgrade bundle, please reach out to services@lodestarsolutions.com.

IBM Cognos Analytics Reporting off Snowflake Data

IBM Cognos Analytics Reporting off Snowflake Data
IBM Cognos Analytics Reporting off Snowflake Data
February 18th, 2021

As the world of Big Data continues to evolve, we have noticed many of our IBM Cognos Analytics clients are moving to an innovative new cloud data solution, Snowflake.  Snowflake is a fully managed service that’s simple to use but can power a near-unlimited number of concurrent workloads.  Snowflake is a solution for data warehousing, data lakes, data engineering, data science, data application development, and for securely sharing and consuming shared data.  It’s important to know that IBM Cognos Analytics Reporting off Snowflake Data can be a winning combination.  In this blog, Lodestar Solutions will describe the problem many Cognos Analytics Administrators have faced and how Snowflake and Cognos Analytics can solve the problem.

The Cognos Analytics Administrator’s Historical Struggle

IBM Cognos Analytics BI Administrators have struggled for years to deliver effective reports and dashboards, in organizations that had data integrity issues.  Many battled silos of data marts, data warehouses and multiple data sources.  In many organizations the Cognos Analytics Administrators did not have control or influence over the data warehousing teams or how they received the data, which resulted in many Cognos Analytics Administrators resorting to what I call duct tape and super gluing reports with code that would be unnecessary if the data was in a better format or indexed.

You can have the best business intelligence reporting solutions in the world but if you have bad data you are stuck in a swamp!

It’s not the Data Warehouse Teams Fault!

Over the years Big Data made big promises but often failed to deliver the results executives were looking for.  Initially, organizations leveraged Data Warehouses to store big data.  A data warehouse is a repository for structured, filtered data that has already been processed for a specific purpose.  The challenge was the amount of unstructured data from different sources like web apps, and social media was growing exponentially.  Business Users were demanding more, and data warehousing just didn’t meet the needs.  So, data lakes were created. A data lake is a vast pool of raw data, the purpose for which is not yet defined, but the data lakes required much larger storage.  Without a lot of baby sitting and governance the lakes became data swamps.  This was especially true of on-premise data lakes.  To solve this problem companies like Snowflake have delivered a modern version of data lakes that leverage cloud technology to handle scaling.  If you want to learn more about modern data lakes check out the complimentary book by Snowflake called Cloud Data Lakes for Dummies by David Baum.  It’s a great short read and you might want to share this with your executives to help them better understand data lakes.   Here's a link to my book review on Cloud Data Lakes for Dummies

Snowflake and Cognos Analytics

A number of IBM Cognos Analytics clients are solving this problem by deploying Snowflake. IBM Cognos Analytics has native connectivity to Snowflake with Cognos Versions 11.0.5 or higher.  Click here to see a list of Business Intelligence solutions that have native connectivity with Snowflake.

How to set up Snowflake Data Source Connection in Cognos Analytics

IBM Cognos Analytics connects to Snowflake with a Java Database Connectivity (JDBC).

To set up the data source connection between IBM Cognos Analytics BI and Snowflake, you will need to:

  1. Download JDBC Driver
  2. Place snowflake jdbc (snowflake-jdbc-3.9.2.jar) file into CA_installation/drivers folder.
  3. Restart IBM Cognos Analytics
  4. Edit Snowflake connection
Connecting Snowflake to Cognos Analytics

JDBC URL:

"jdbc:snowflake://<your_account_name>.snowflakecomputing.com/?warehouse=<your_warehouse>"

Select Use the following signon:

ID and Password from snowflake User Name and Password

5. Test the connection

Connecting Snowflake to Cognos Analytics2

If you want additional details, check out this IBM Blog.

IBM Cognos Analytics Connection to Snowflake with an ODBC Connection.

For IBM Cognos Analytic Administrators that want to use an ODBC connection to Snowflake there are 3rd party drivers that you can purchase and use.  One such driver is the CData ODBC driver for Snowflake which can integrate Snowflake data with the drag-and-drop style of Cognos Report Studio.  They provide a graphical approach to create data visualizations with no SQL required.  This blog by CData, Create Data Visualizations in Cognos BI with Snowflake shows their approach on how to execute any SQL query supported by Snowflake. 

Conclusion

IBM Cognos Analytics Reporting off Snowflake data can be a winning combination.  If you are a Cognos Analytics Administrator and want to discuss how IBM Cognos Analytics can be taken to the next level with better data sources like Snowflake, contact services@lodestarsolutions.com.

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