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.

Cognos Analytics Components and Uses

October 15, 2019

Cognos Analytics Components Explained

Recently we were asked to explain the Cognos Analytics Components. This client was new to Cognos Analytics and there really wasn’t a good breakdown of the architecture and Cognos Analytics Components. Their question is your gain! I believe this is a great breakdown of each area of Cognos Analytics, its uses and the architecture.

Multi-Server Architecture
Architectural Document Provided by Ted Johnson, Sr. Architect.

Cognos Analytics Tiers

There are 3 main tiers to a Cognos Analytics install.

  • Content Manager - is the IBM Cognos Analytics service that manages the storage of application data including security, configuration data, models, report specifications, report outputs, and so on. Click here for more information.
  • Application Tier - IBM Cognos Analytics Applications tier contains one or more Cognos Analytics servers. The servers run requests such as reports, analyses, and queries that are forwarded by the gateway and renders the interfaces. Click here for more information. 
  • Gateway Tier - Gateways are often CGI programs, but they can follow other standards such as, Internet Server Application Program Interface (ISAPI) or Apache Modules (apache_mod). IBM Cognos Analytics uses only CGI, ISAPI or Apache Modules for Kerberos. Otherwise, you do not need to configure a gateway. Click here for more information.

Content Store

The content store is a relational database that contains data that Cognos Analytics needs to operate such as report specifications, published models and packages that contain them, connection information for data sources, information about external namespaces and the Cognos namespace itself, information about scheduling and bursting reports, and so on.

When setting up your Cognos Analytics environment, set up the content store to use a supported database that can be secured and tuned for performance and stability. Design models and log files are not stored in the content store. The IBM Cognos service that uses the content store is named Content Manager.

Data Sources

Data sources, also known as query databases, are relational databases, dimensional or OLAP cubes, files, or other physical data stores that can be accessed through Cognos Analytics. Application tier components use data source connections to access data sources.

Cognos Analytics Components

Cognos Analytics Components

Other Modeling Tools

Other Modeling Tools

How to Find the Cognos Analytics Components

Now that you know about all of the Cognos Analytics Components, here is a little guide to each area and where you can find them.

Welcome Portal
  • Search for content in Team content, My content or Recent lists
  • Open reports, dashboards, stories and other items upload files
  • Check your notifications, set your preferences and home page, and review your schedules and subscriptions.
  • Delete, copy, move, edit or run entries such as reports
  • Create report views for reports without opening the Reporting component
  • Create shortcuts to reports, dashboards, stories or data modules
  •  Set access permissions

Start creating new content such as reports, dashboards, or stories by tapping + New.

Reporting
  • Create and edit a wide range of professional reports
  • Use templates or customize your reports with prompts, bursting, advanced charts and visualizations

**You enter the IBM Cognos Analytics - Reporting user interface from the Cognos Analytics portal by opening an existing report from Team content or My content, or by tapping + New, and then tapping Report

For more information, see the Cognos Analytics Reporting Guide.

Dashboards and Stories
  • View, monitor and communicate data insights and analysis with dashboards or stories
  • Assemble a view that contains visualizations such as graphs, charts, plots, tables, maps or any other visual representation of data
  • Enrich dashboards and stories with web pages and other content

**You enter the IBM Cognos Analytics Dashboards or Stories user interface from the Cognos Analytics portal by opening an existing dashboard from Team content or My content, or by tapping + New, and then tapping Dashboard or Story.

For more information, see the Cognos Analytics Dashboard and Story Guide.

Explorations
  • Explore is a flexible workspace where you can discover and analyze data
  • Explore an existing visualization from a dashboard or story
  • Uncover hidden relationships and identify patterns that turn your data into insights

** You enter the IBM Cognos Analytics Exploration user interface from the Cognos Analytics portal by opening an existing Exploration from Team content or My content, or by tapping + New, and then tapping Exploration.

For more information, see the Cognos Analytics Explorations User Guide.

Data Modeling
  • Modelers and Administrators create data modules and packages and make them available to users for use with reports, dashboards and stories
  • You can use the IBM Cognos Analytics web modeling tool to quickly create data modules from various sources such as data servers, uploaded files, and previously saved data modules
  • The tool is intent-driven and generates a base module by using keywords that you define

** You enter the IBM Cognos Analytics web modeling user interface from the Cognos Analytics portal by opening an existing data module from Team content or My content, or by tapping + New, and then tapping Data module.

For more information, see the Cognos Analytics Data Modeling Guide.

Manage and Administer
  • Create and manage accounts (users, groups and roles), schedules, or data server connections
  • Perform configuration tasks and customize the product experience and user interface

** You enter the IBM Cognos Analytics Administration user interface from the Cognos Analytics portal by tapping Manage, and then selecting the tabs that represent the different administration areas such as, Data server connections or Configuration. To access the legacy administration tool for more options tap Administration Console.

Changes that you make in either the Manage interface or the Administration Console affect both interfaces.

Cognos Audit 

Use audit reports to view the information in a logging database about user and report activity. You may find this useful for:

  • capacity planning
  • licensing conformance
  • performance monitoring
  •  identifying unused content

For more information about Cognos Audit check out this blog.

Are You Ready to Upgrade?

Check out this great blog on why you should upgrade now to Cognos Analytics.  

Contact Us

There you have it! A comprehensive guide to Cognos Analytics Components. If you have any questions, please reach out to us at services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Cognos Analytics & TM1 Users Attend the IBM Data and AI Forum

IBM Data and AI Forum
IBM Data and AI Forum
July 25, 2019

Are you a longtime IBM Cognos Analytics and/or Planning Analytics (TM1) customer?  Are you struggling to get traction with your BI and/or TM1 projects?  Maybe the executive team isn’t prioritizing analytics.  Or maybe they are pressuring you to switch to Power BI or another tool?  If this describes you, we are telling our Cognos Analytics & TM1 users to attend the IBM Data and AI Forum in October in Miami.

OCTOBER 21-24 Miami, Florida
IBM Data and AI Forum (formerly IBM Analytics University)

Click to link to IBM Registration site.

What is IBM’s Data and AI Forum?  

Oops, IBM did it again, they renamed a conference and in doing so confused a lot of customers.  The IBM Data and AI Forum was called the IBM Analytics University last year.  It’s a conference that is focused on providing content for Cognos Analytics (BI), IBM Cognos Planning Analytics (TM1), SPSS, Optimization, IBM Watson Assistant, IBM Watson Studio, IBM Watson OpenScale, IBM Watson Knowledge catalog, IBM InfoSphere Information Server, or IBM Db2 clients.

So, if you are a Cognos BI or Cognos Planning Analytics TM1 client and felt overwhelmed by IBM Think last year you should check out this smaller focused event.  If I were an IBM Cognos BI or TM1 client and could only go to one event this would be it.

Who Should Attend and Why? 

Cognos Analytics (BI) Administrators or Power Users.

Attend the IBM Data and AI Forum to hear stories on how other BI clients are leveraging all the new functionality of Cognos Analytics and lessons they have learned.  You will be able to chat with experts on how to upgrade Cognos BI to the latest version in a phased approach. The first step is to identify what really needs to be upgraded to Cognos Analytics.

Imagine if you had a tool that could give you an inventory of all the old junk in your Cognos system, so you didn’t have to upgrade it? In Miami Lodestar team members will be happy to introduce you to the amazing new Motio functionality that provides an inventory of your Cognos BI system and helps you determine what needs to be upgraded.  The cool thing is, IBM and Motio have agreed to give clients some of the Motio tools for free for 30 days. Link to Motio details.  You must come to the IBM Data and AI forum to learn more.  Or contact us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com

Cognos Planning Analytics (TM1) Administrators or Power Users.

Attend the IBM Data and AI Forum to learn how to update your models and use the new functionality in Cognos Analytics including hierarchies, Workspace, Planning Analytics for Excel (PAX) and more. If you are still on Cognos TM1 version 10 you must attend because your version of the software is going unsupported in September 2019. This event is a great place to go ask all your questions and to get your brain thinking about upgrading. For an idea of the questions you should be asking about TM1 and Cognos Planning Analytics I’ve shared some links to previous blogs you should check out.  

Blogs to Prepare for IBM's Data and AI Forum

This event has so much information you don’t want to miss it! 

Now that we have shared why Cognos Analytic BI and Planning Analytic (TM1) customers shouldn’t miss the IBM Data and AI Forum in October, let’s plan to meet up!  Lodestar Solutions would like to set a time to meet and discuss your specific challenges. If Lodestar Solutions can’t help you, we will find someone that can. Meetings with Lodestar can discuss upgrades, licensing, model design, functionality, resources… At Lodestar Solutions our goal is to make you hugely successful!  To set up a meeting at the IBM Data and AI Forum, or a call before email Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Sign-up for the IBM Data and AI Forum today!  
The early bird discount ends August 19, 2019.

IBM Cognos Analytics R7 Available Now

IBM Cognos Analytics R7 Available Now

The release of Cognos Analytics R7 on August 24, 2017, took an already good product and made it even better.  As you can see in the picture below, it starts with the home page for Cognos Analytics and goes much deeper.  Read below for the long list of additions and improvements.

Cognos Analytics R7

Homepage

The home page has been redesigned and is even more user friendly.   Enhancements include:

  • Recent Area - find your most recently used items quickly
  • Quick Reference Area - great area with videos, sample data instructions and support links
  • Updated Actions / Content Area - organized the buttons in better order, changed how the folders are viewed and freshened up the icons
Cognos Analytics R7
Cognos Analytics R7
Cognos Analytics R7

Dashboards

Cognos Analytics R7 delivers some great new features to the dashboard area, which include:

  • frees up canvas space,  widgets not changed by highlighting and can use check boxes, sliders and hierarchy tree.  Ability to filter on 1 tab or all tabs.
Cognos Analytics R7
  • simple or advanced calcs
  • single or multiple values
  • expression editor now available for advanced calcs.
Cognos Analytics R7
  • Create Navigation Groups within Dashboard Module
  • Added new visualizations with better label placements
  • Ability to show values in visualizations

Reporting

Next, Cognos Analytics R7 delivers great new features in reporting, which include:

  • Mapbox maps now included in reporting
  • Navigations groups from data modules
  • Interactive filter panel in viewer
  • View Active reports in viewer and download
  • Global parameters
  • Package based drill through (ala Cognos 10)
  • View tabular data in all formats
  • Group repeating cells when export to excel
  • Interactive performance assistant
Cognos Analytics R7
Cognos Analytics R7
Storytelling

Storytelling allows the end user to create slideshows or infographic displays within the Cognos Analytics environment.  In Cognos Analytics R7, a couple of enhancements are available, which include:

  • Animated paths - allows transitions to keep items on the screen
  • Administrator led custom image library
Data

The data module in R7 brings a handful of additions and improvements.

  • Presto
  • MemSql
  • Hive 2.1
  • Microsoft Analysis Services 2016
  • SAP BW 7.5
Cognos Analytics R7
PowerPlay 11

Finally, IBM has released PowerPlay 11, with Cognos Analytics R7.  This is big news for the many users of PowerPlay and Transformer.

  • PowerPlay 11 provides updated operating system conformance
  • Updated bowser conformance
  • Functions just as 10.2.2
  • PowerPlay report views and reports integrated in Cognos Analytics portal
  • PowerPlay uses CA portal
Cognos Analytics R7
Additional Items
  • The "everyone" group is removed from everything except system admin
  • Cognos roles mapped directly to CA license feature
Upcoming Lodestar Events

Check out all of Lodestar Solutions upcoming events here https://lodestarsolutions.com/

I want to highlight a special event!  Are you thinking about upgrading to Cognos Analytics?

The new Cognos Analytics Dashboarding capabilities are crazy awesome, but they still don’t solve the overarching problems that have plagued our profession for decades.

We all know that the struggle with business intelligence is getting people to use it.

You can develop a million reports and dashboards, but if the organization doesn’t act from the data or if the information has a trivial impact on the bottom line, then what’s the point?

Are your budgets being over scrutinized, or worse, just cut with no clear reason? More and more, CEOs and CFOs are starting to re-evaluate their investment into analytics. If they were receiving the expected value, they wouldn’t be slashing the analytics budget.

You must be pretty frustrated too.

Same story, different day. You get requests from the user, take down the requirements, but you know deep down that it’s not going to work. Same old, same old. They are not going to use it, but it’s your job, so you build it.

Change is never easy, but stagnate water will always start to smell. Is your job starting to reek? Before you call it quits, ask yourself this question:

Are you brave enough to admit that you are half of the problem…which means you could be half of the solution?

Check out this link for more info Upgrade Training and to sign up for the event!

IBM Cognos Analytics Release 6 is Available Now

3/22/17

On Friday March 17, 2017, IBM Cognos Analytics Release 6 was made available to download and with it came some big updates.  Below are some of the highlights and what it all means to you.

Dashboard Enhancements

The dashboard area gained some important enhancements in IBM Cognos Analytics Release 6.  They include the following:

  • Direct connection to OLAP sources.  This includes TM1 and PowerPlay cubes as well as Dynamic Cubes, Essbase, etc..    This is an important addition to the dashboard platform.  It provides the many users of TM1 and PowerPlay quick dashboard creation based on already modeled data.
  • Dashboard widgets connectivity.  The standard is to have all widgets connected by default.  You can now pick and choose what widgets are connected, which gives your dashboards even more flexibility.  As you can see below, you can quickly connect different widgets by creating new connections.
  • IBM Cognos Analytics Release 6
  • Geospatial mapping  was introduced in Release 5.  In IBM Cognos Analytics Release 6, new additions to mapping include the ability to drill down from country to state or province to county or city. Now you can use zip codes to further enhance your map.  In addition, a refined region area has been added to clarify disambiguate locations.
  • Navigation paths now show in a metadata tree in the data source area.
IBM Cognos Analytics Release 6
  • Auto scaling for text widgets make your dashboards more dynamic.
IBM Cognos Analytics Release 6

Reporting Enhancements

The reporting area also continues to include enhancements in each release.  They include the following: 

  • Continued performance improvements in the report viewer and rendering reports.
  • For those of you who use Cognos 10, lineage and business glossary support is now in CA.
  • Edit data modules directly in the reporting solution.  You can add calculations, parameterized filters, and drill through directly to the data module.  Prior to R6, you had to edit or create these items in the module itself.

Storytelling

​Storytelling was introduced in IBM Cognos Analytics Release 4.    Utilizing storytelling provides a dynamic way to bring your dashboards to life and guide your audience through the story you want to tell.  Added in Release 6:

  • ​New guided journey templates
  • New animations
  • Pin enhancements
  • Timeline  enhancements
IBM Cognos Analytics Release 6
IBM Cognos Analytics Release 6

Cognos Analytics "Portal"

One of the big issues I heard from customers regarding Cognos Analytics was the lack of portal tabs.  Well, in R6 IBM has provided the ability to create custom folders which can act similar to portal tabs.  You can create folders and assign based on roles or users for limited access or appearance.   If portal tabs were holding you back, this might be the fix for you.  

Also added is the ability to create report shortcuts or views.  Last, you can share or embed a saved report or dashboard.

Administration Platform

Several items have been added to the administration platform within CA.  They include enhanced support for advanced routing rules, new upgrade features, and multi tenancy support.

Data Access Additions

  • Enhanced support for TM1  / Planning Analytics Interoperation.  This includes support for REST connections, PA hierarchies, and localized PA cubes.
  • New Sources -  Google Cloud and Google Big Query
  • New Versions - Cloud Impala 2.6, Teradata 16,  Oracle 12C2, SAP Hana 2,  Microsoft SSAS 16 and Informix 12.10xC8

As you can read, there are some awesome new items in IBM Cognos Analytics Release 6.  As a reminder, in order to have access to the latest release, you must be current on support with IBM.  Contact Renewals@lodestarsolutions.com for a quote or to obtain assistance.

Check out our upgrade evaluation toolkit to help you decide if it is the right time to upgrade by joining our Cognos Club.  Also, look for our online training series to be made available very soon!

If you have any other questions you can reach me at services@lodestarsolutions.com

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