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 Planning Analytics Versions Are End of Life

IBM Planning Analytics Versions Are End of Life
IBM Planning Analytics Versions Are End of Life

Written by Heather L. Cole, March 3rd 2022

Are you an IBM Planning Analytics TM1 user that has not upgraded in a while?  If so, you MUST know that this year several versions of Planning Analytics TM1 are being sunset so they will no longer be supported by IBM.  Today we will discuss what IBM Planning Analytics versions are end of life. 

This is very important to know because the world has changed, and hackers are evil.  We all witnessed security teams scrambling to update Log4j vulnerability in almost every software.  For more information check out our recent blog, 911 – Log4j Security Risk Affects IBM Planning Analytics, Cognos… 

 The best way to stop hackers is to be on a current supported version and be on IBM support.

What IBM Planning Analytic Versions are Sunsetting?

If you are on Planning Analytics versions 2.07 or earlier IBM will no longer support it effective April 30, 2022.  If you are on 2.08 IBM will no longer support it after September 30, 2022.  And if you are on a Cognos TM1 version 10.2 or earlier you probably already know you have been unsupported since 2019.  So, it’s time to upgrade PA!  More on that in a minute.

Can you still use TM1 if they sunset your version?

First, it’s important to know if you are on an IBM Planning Analytics TM1 version that is not supported by IBM, you can still use it.  For many of you that own “on-premise” licenses you can even use it if you are not paying support, but we don’t recommend that.  Read our earlier blog, Consequences of Not Renewing IBM Cognos Support.

IBM will not help you.

However, if you are on an unsupported version of TM1 and something happens, IBM will most likely tell you, you must upgrade PA.  And no one wants to upgrade under duress.  You might be thinking, “but we haven’t called IBM for support for years.”  That may be true, however when issues arise, it typically is not the software.  It’s more often that IT upgraded something in your environment and it broke planning analytics.  Why? Because new software doesn’t always play well with old software.  When this happens, you will need to call IBM.  And well, they will tell you to upgrade PA. 

What if I can’t upgrade PA?

I appreciate for some of you upgrading your Planning Analytics when the system is down, and you need to get the reports to the executives is not realistic.  I appreciate the sense of panic this can create.  If you find yourself in this situation, call Lodestar or email services@lodestarsolutions.com with a subject line of 911.  Our tech wizards might be able to help get you up and running.

Planning your TM1 upgrade.

The latest version of Planning Analytics is 2.0.9.11  released December 21, 2021  (see link for more info).  Lodestar Solutions does recommend getting on this version.  There are a few steps you need to think about when you upgrade PA.

  1.  It’s recommended to upgrade PA into a new clean environment.
  2. You should review your license entitlements to ensure you don’t accidentally violate your license.  Email Lodestar to setup a complimentary what the heck do I own session. Services@lodestarsolutions.com.
  3. Learn the new functionality and plan when you will want to leverage the amazing new features. Email Lodestar to setup a discussion of new functionality at Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Upgrading does not need to be a stressful experience but preplanning is important.  Lodestar Solutions is here to help!  We offer many options to help you with your upgrades.  We even offer upgrade bundles to make IBM Planning Analytics upgrading assistance more affordable.  See our blog, Solving the IBM Planning Analytics Upgrade Challenge

Take the Next Step.

If you are one of the many whose IBM Planning Analytics versions are end of life or you just want to upgrade to get the new functionality, email us and we can answer all your questions about upgrading Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

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.

Steps to Take When Your IBM Cognos or Planning Analytics Power User Leaves

Steps to Take When Your IBM Cognos or Planning Analytics Power User Leaves
Steps to Take When Your IBM Cognos or Planning Analytics Power User Leaves
Written by Heather L. Cole, January 27th 2022

“Heather wanted to let you know Friday is my last day at _____ Company.”  Would you believe I am getting emails like this weekly?  Yes, the Great Resignation is real!  And at Lodestar Solutions, we want you know to know we have your back!  Today I’ll share the Steps to Take When Your IBM Cognos or Planning Analytics Power User Leaves.  Just know you don’t have to go it alone!

1. Call Lodestar Solutions to Create a Plan

When your IBM Cognos or Planning Analytics Power User Leaves it can be scary.  Especially if you have a smaller deployment and the one person that knows everything about your system just resigned.  When this happens Lodestar Solutions is here to help you create a plan, help you find new talent and back you up when you need it, even if this means you need some temporary staff until you hire someone.  As soon as notice is given, call Lodestar at 813-415-2910 or email Services@lodestarsolutions.com to schedule your complimentary “oh sh*t” plan.

2. Create an Emergency SOW with Lodestar Solutions

It’s always best to have a backup plan.  At Lodestar Solutions we recommend all clients have an active statement of work in place to help if you have an emergency, but if your Cognos or TM1 power user leaves, it is even more important.  So, call us at 813-415-2910 or email services@lodestarsolutions.com and we can tell you how many hours you have on your open SOWs or create a new one.  Remember you are not billed unless you use our services.  But you don’t want to have an emergency and must wait for legal to review contracts before we can help.  So, call today to get your emergency SOW in place.

3. Change Your Support Contacts with IBM

Before the person leaves, you want to check if they were designated as the point of contact within the IBM support system.  If so, you want to have them change the primary contact before they leave!  It’s a lot easier to change the name within the IBM system before the person’s email is turned off.  Here’s Lodestars’ blog on how to change the contact’s name.   

You will also want to notify us of who should receive your support renewal quotes in the future.  Reach out to our team at renewals@lodestarsolutions.com for assistance.

4. Switch the Admin within the System

You want to make sure you update security in the system to assign administrative rights to someone else.  This is very important for smaller deployments of IBM Analytics that only have one power user.  You should always remove employees that have left the company from the Cognos or TM1 system, so you don’t risk failing an audit.  Note, when an employee leaves the company you can reassign their license to a new user, just no sharing.  For more information on IBM audits, see our two-part blog series on Things Every Cognos Client Needs to Know about an IBM Audit.

Part 1 - Things Every Cognos Client Needs to Know about an IBM Audit

Part 2 - Things Every Cognos Client Needs to Know about an IBM Audit


5. For Cognos Users Plan for Orphaned Content

If you use IBM Cognos Analytics and a user leaves before you reassigned their reports, you may end up with reports you can’t get to.  We call this Orphaned content.  When a user is deleted in a Cognos namespace all of their content in their My Folder gets orphaned and is difficult to access. The good news is you didn’t lose it.  Here’s our blog on how to retrieve it, and a link to Motio’s YouTube Video as they have a great tool to help recover orphaned objects in Cognos. 

Document Your Models with Video

6. Knowledge Transfer Video

When a Cognos admin quits, often there is not enough time to do proper knowledge transfer and does anyone really have updated documentation?  To save you time and money trying to figure out the basic setups of your IBM Analytics system, we recommend the person leaving record a video of the system.  They should record the video as if they are talking to their replacement and sharing all the details of their system.  You can use Zoom or a video conferencing service to do this, or we use Camtasia, a video editing system. This video can be very valuable to the person you hire.

7. Communicate How to Log a Case

If the person moving on, is the person that has access to log cases with IBM you should have them shoot a video on how to log a case and provide your site details.  This will be very valuable if you have an issue and need IBM support.

8. Create a Job Description

Now that you have your backup plan created you want to create an awesome job description to attract top talent.  Don’t just rely on your HR team to do this.  Lodestar is happy to help.  We will provide you a sample description and review what you have before it’s posted.  A few key points:

  •  If you allow remote or flexible work times, make sure it’s on the post.
  • Don’t just write it for what the company is looking for but include what you are offering the candid like training.
  • Read the job description, would you reply?  If not, rewrite it.

A great book for anyone hiring is Hiring for Attitude by Mark Murphy.  

For Lodestar Clients Only:

If you are a Lodestar Solutions client, we are willing to help you promote your position.  It’s what family does… Once you have your job description written send it to me at hcole@lodestarsolutions.com and I’ll share it with my network.

9. Review your Licensing and New Functionality

Whenever there is a change in your organization, you should do a State of the Union review.  Lodestar Solution’s recommends reviewing:

  •  Your IBM Analytics Licensing
  • What’s new in the latest IBM release
  • A List of what future enhancements your power users were planning
  • A review or your current environment and models

We find when clients do a review with us, they have comfort in understanding what they own, how they can use it and that their current system is in good shape.  Lodestar is happy to schedule a review with you.  Email us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

How to Get the Best Value on Your Cognos, TM1 and SPSS Support Renewals

Support Value
Support Value
August 27th, 2020

We all know the best price is not always the best value when shopping and it is true of IBM Support Renewals as well.   If you are looking to renew your IBM Cognos, Planning Analytics (TM1) or SPSS support you want to make sure you get the best value.  You might be thinking, my support is the same if I buy it from IBM or a partner.  But that is not always true! Today we will share secrets on, “How to get the Best Value on your Cognos, TM1 and SPSS Support Renewals.”

IBM Support Renewals Process

Let’s start by reviewing the IBM support renewals process.  When you purchased your initial licensing for Cognos, Tm1 or SPSS you received one year of support with the purchase.  After that you are provided a quote for support from IBM annually. This support allows you access to patches, upgrades and the ability to contact IBM directly for support.  Here’s a link to IBM information about renewing support.

Keep Current on IBM Support

Lodestar Solutions recommends all clients keep current on their support.  It’s not worth the risk of being unsupported.  (See our blog, Consequences of Not Renewing IBM Cognos Support)  And of course we resell IBM support as do many partners.

Partners Sell Support Cheaper Then IBM

In the past, IBM partners like Lodestar Solutions were often able to sell support renewals to clients cheaper then IBM could sell it.  The way we provided aggressive quotes to clients was by giving up some of our margin, which we called the Lodestar client discount.  But what makes Lodestar unique is that in addition to very competitive quotes, Lodestar provides clients with an annual license check-up where we discuss what you own, what changes IBM has made in the licensing and the software and offer recommendations based on your unique situation.

What the Heck Do I Own - Cognos, TMI, SPSS

Our clients have found Lodestar’s IBM Support Renewal checkups and “What the Heck Do I Own” sessions for Cognos BI, Cognos Planning Analytics (TM1), and SPSS very beneficial.  Every client that renews with Lodestar receives a free customized, “What the Heck do I Own” session where we review your licenses and educate you on functionality you did not even know you had.  We talk about your challenges and how other clients have overcome similar challenges.  This is a very beneficial session. It’s not uncommon for clients to tell us the one-hour session taught them more than a week at an IBM event.   Our reviews have saved our clients huge amounts of money.  (Check out our blog: How an IBM Cognos User Reduced Support Costs by $30,000!)

IBM Changes to Renewals August 2020

Well, in August 2020 IBM changed the partner renewal program and significantly reduced the margins that partners could make. As part of the changes IBM decided they wanted to protect partners that sold the renewal last year, by giving what they call the incumbent partner more margin than other partners.  

Personally, I disagree with IBM’s changes because I believe in competition.  Not all partners offer the same value for the renewal.  I believe the recent move may hurt clients as it does not create an incentive for true value adding partners to reach out to help clients that may be confused with their licensing.  If you renewed with a partner last year that just gave a fabulous quote and did not add value, and this year you want help with licensing and clarification as to what you own, you may find that as you reach out to other IBM partners, they may not want to even provide a quote because they can’t make enough money to justify the work.

Case Study for Value Added Renewals

For a long time, Lodestar Solutions had a client that regularly reviewed their licenses with Lodestar.  Then 5 years ago the executives at the client decided to move all their support renewals to what we refer to as a license consolidator.  Consolidators are large companies that can renew almost every software brand and give discounts due to volume.  The client’s goal was to save money. 

The Cognos BI and TM1 power users were very upset as they loved all the value added services they received throughout the year from Lodestar Solutions.  But the decision came from the top.  Lodestar still worked with the client for services but did not provide licensing recommendations or the annual renewal review. 

Then late in 2018 IBM made changes to the licensing of Enterprise Planning Users and the changes put some clients that move to TM1 at risk of failing an audit.  (See Video for details)  So, Lodestar Solutions reached out to all clients we thought were at risk due to the changes, even those that moved to consolidators.  Well, it turns out, the consolidator did not educate the client on IBM license changes or do annual reviews and the client failed an audit a year earlier costing them almost $1 Million.  When we reached out educating them, they may again fail an audit they realized that the consolidator wasn’t saving them money it actually cost them a bundle!  Yes, the client returned to work with Lodestar for their renewals.  But the moral of the story is, the best price is not the best value.

IBM Changes Not in Clients Best Interest

As I stated earlier, I do not believe IBM’s recent changes to their partner renewals program benefits the clients, but it did cause me to look in the mirror and ask myself how Lodestar can add even more value!  You see, I hate telling the clients their “Lodestar client discount” is being significantly reduced.  But, due to IBM changes we cannot offer the same level of discounts, so instead we are upping our value.  Effective September 2020 all clients that renew their support with Lodestar Solutions will receive the following:

Lodestar Support Client Bonuses

  • Annual licensing review to ensure you are in the optimal licensing mix
  • A “What the Heck do I Own” session where we discuss the new functionality of your unique licensing mix
  • A forward-looking discussion to create a roadmap and recommendation of 3rd party tools that might help you realize your vision faster
  • Access to Lodestar’s private client only collection of videos to educate you on new functionality
  • Periodic no charge check-ins to address your challenges
  • Presentation coaching to help you gain the support and resources you need to success
  • Lodestar Virtual Semi-Annual User Group Meetings
  • Invites to Lodestar exclusive events and offers

NEXT STEP TO GET MORE VALUE FOR YOUR IBM SUPPORT RENEWAL

Lodestar Solutions is here to help you get the best value on your Cognos, TM1 and SPSS Support Renewals.  Value is not just price.  When you evaluate who you work with, don’t you want someone that understands licensing, can navigate the IBM red tape and helps you succeed?

If you want to get the most value from your IBM Support renewal, contact us today at renewals@lodestarsolutions.com and set up a time to chat.

Why is TM1 Slow?

TM1 Slow

Are you a TM1 user and frustrated with the speed? Are your perspective reports extremely slow? Does opening a cube view take forever? WTH this is 2020, why is TM1 slow?

TM1 Speed

There are several reasons that could cause your TM1 system to be slow. Everything from feeder issues to system issues. The first question I need to ask when you state your TM1 is slow is, “Are you using old technology?”  Many IBM TM1 clients complain about issues but are running an old, often unsupported version of TM1.  (TM1 10.2 not supported)

Planning Analytics PAX Built for Speed

The latest version of IBM Cognos Planning Analytics is designed to solve many problems you may be experiencing with a slow TM1 system! For example, Perspectives is old and slow. We know this. That is why IBM created Planning Analytics for Excel (PAX). Planning Analytics for Microsoft Excel reports are designed to work even in a wide area network environment, without the need for Citrix. With PAX some features are optimized to reduce network traffic and improve performance on wide area networks. 

See the IBM Blog, The benefits of using Planning Analytics for Excel over TM1 Perspectives. 

Formatting with PAX

PAX also has a lot of cool new functionality like formatting. Imagine being able to update formatting on a report with ease so subtotals are a different font or levels are a certain color. PAX not only can help with processing speed, but it speeds up your work with features to make you more efficient too. Check out this video to see how you can make your reports look amazing with a few mouse clicks.

TMI Multi-Threading for Speed

Have you ever wondered why your CPU usage is never near 100% when you have a large number of processors? And yet, you have a lot of cores available for TM1 but reports and views are slow. Well, maybe you have not leveraged Multi-Threading.  TM1 Multi-threaded Queries allow TM1 to automatically load balance your application.  It splits the queries to process on a separate core allowing the model to leverage all the processors available.  The result, TM1 is faster and more efficient when running large queries and rules.  For more information on TM1 Multi-threading click here.

When is Now a Good Time for Planning Analytics?

What are you waiting for? If you are on 10.x version of TM1 you are on an unsupported version. This is dangerous because if Microsoft sends an update it could break your Perspectives and IBM will not be obligated to help. How would you feel if perspectives broke during your budget process? Stressed?

You do not have to tolerate slow and you don’t have to risk being unsupported.

Call Lodestar Solutions today and let’s chat about planning your TM1 upgrade! First, Lodestar Solutions will discover your challenges and goals, then we will create a plan that considers your budget and timelines. For some that means just migrating to a supported version of Planning Analytics, while others may want to discuss a model redesign.  (See our blog).  But Lodestar does more than just plan and help with your TM1 upgrade.  If you are struggling to get executives to fund your TM1 upgrade, do not worry we have a process that can help you secure the funding and resources you need to succeed. For more information on what it costs to upgrade see our blog, What does it cost to upgrade from TM1 to IBM Planning Analytics? 

You work hard and deserve the latest version of TM1, Planning Analytics.  Time to stop suffering.  You now know the answer to “Why is TM1 Slow?”  Now take the first step to solve it and contact Lodestar Solutions today via email services@lodestarsolutions.com or call 813-415-2910.

How do I find our IBM Cognos Sales Representative?

Find our IBM Cognos Sales Representative
Find our IBM Cognos Sales Representative
July 9th, 2020

Are you a Cognos Analytics or Cognos Planning Analytics (TM1) customer and wanting to talk to your IBM Cognos sales representative? You have a question on licensing or upgrades. Or, maybe you inherited Cognos and do not even know where to start?  You are not alone. IBM is a huge company and their people move around a lot.  Today I will share insights on, “How do I find our IBM Cognos Sales Representative?”

You Have Multiple IBM Cognos Sales Representatives

The first step is to identify why you need to talk to your IBM Cognos sales representative?  You must answer this question first because in IBM there are many representatives assigned to your account. There are many pillars in the IBM system. You have a Cognos Renewal Specialist. Their job is to get you to maintain support on your IBM Cognos software.  Then you have an IBM Cognos Sales Representative that focuses on selling products like Cognos Planning Analytics (TM1) and Cognos Analytics (BI).  If you have SPSS then you have another IBM Sales Representative for that too. For those of you that want to preserve cash you have an IBM Global Financing Representative.  If you need to contact support, there is another pillar for that. Oh, and then there is a Client Executive that over sees your account in general.  And the list goes on.

IBM Pillars

How to Navigate IBM Red Tape

So, I am going to let you into a little secret.  You do not have to get frustrated and spin around in the blue sea of IBM.  IBM has an entire ecosystem that is designed to help you.  The IBM Partner Channel is a robust network of people that have been working with IBM and understand the IBM ways.  Lodestar Solutiosn prides itself in helping clients cut through the red tape to get clients rapid results.  Because we regularly work with all the areas within IBM, we have connections, friends and know who you need to talk to, and if we don’t, we will make a few calls and figure it out. All you have to do is reach out to Lodestar at Services@lodestarsolutions.com or call 813-415-2910 and we will point you in the right direction.

Midmaket Clients and IBM Partners

If you are a smaller client in IBM’s eyes, then let’s admit it you are a small fish in a very big IBM pond.  But IBM still loves you, however they know that they cannot give everyone the attention they deserve.  So, IBM has created a system where partners are assigned to serve you.  See CIO article, “How IBM Sold Business Analytics by Relying Solely on Partners” to learn more about IBM’s strategy. So, if you find your IBM Cognos rep and they recommend you talk to your partner you know why. They have identified that you are probably better served by a partner that will give you the attention you need.

Why Working with Lodestar is Better Than IBM

Did you know if you find the right partner it can be better than working with your IBM Cognos Sales Representative alone?  IBM partners like Lodestar Solutions are better equipped to serve you!  Yes, I may be a little bias here but let me explain. Lodestar Solutions has been a partner working with the IBM Analytic solutions for over 16 years.  Our team consists of team members that were clients and consultants in the trenches battling shrinking budgets, internal politics, and system issues just like you.  So, we understand your struggles, but we also have been swimming in the IBM sea for decades and understand how to cut the red tape and help you resolve your issue and get the best deal on IBM Cognos support and licensing. 

How to Get the Best Deal on Cognos Software & Support

Want to get the best deal on Cognos software and Cognos support? Contact an IBM certified business partner like Lodestar Solutions because we understand IBM licensing.  Many of you may be on the wrong licensing model and paying more than you should.  See our blog, How to Save Money on Cognos Analytics and Planning AnalyticsOthers may want to buy new licensing but want to minimize the support costs too.  Well a partner is perfect to help because in IBM the Cognos sales team and the Cognos support team are different and they have different personal incentives.  To get the best deal for you, you need to navigate both teams at the same time.  Lodestar does that every day while working with your IBM Cognos sales representative.  But, we take it a step further.  This last quarter we helped many clients secure 0% financing over 36 months, for their new Cognos purchase and Cognos renewal.  IBM Global Financing helped them preserve cash and get their project approved.  See our blog on IBM Global Financing.

Still Doubting the Value of an IBM Cognos Business Partner?

Just call us to chat about your Cognos challenges.  We will share our ideas, connect you with the right people and even help you answer, “How do I find our IBM Cognos Sales Representative?”  So, you have nothing to lose.  Call us at 813-415-2910 or email services@lodestarsolutions.com.

How to Save Money on Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics

Cognos Saving Money
Cognos Saving Money
June 25th, 2020

Are you being pressured to cut costs wherever possible?  For many Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics customers, routine costs are now being scrutinized like never before.  Companies are wisely preserving cash in these uncertain times.  Today I will share how to save money on Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics. These are proven methods I have used to help clients save thousands of dollars.

Save Money on IBM Cognos Analytics Licensing

Are You on the Optimal Licensing Model?

The first thing you want to check is whether are you even in the correct licensing model and if you use the licenses you own.  For many Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics customers, they bought years ago and have not really assessed if there is a better IBM licensing model. Lodestar recently moved a number of Planning Analytics (TM1) clients to a more beneficial licensing model like the Planning Analytics Advanced, saving the clients money and giving them more functionality.  For more information on Planning analytics and TM1 licensing check out our blog, Cognos TM1 Licensing 13 Most Common Questions.

For SPSS Stat customers there are a number of licensing options to explore. We have seen many clients have a mix of SPSS Stat licensing and when we do some cleanup to have either all Authorized Users or all Concurrent  Users we eliminate installation headaches and save them money.  See our recent blog on IBM SPSS Stat Licensing Options.

Now if you purchased Cognos or TM1 over ten years ago, and have a small number of users you may be on Enterprise licensing, when Express licensing could save you a lot of money on both new users and support.  Express is a licensing model designed for small deployments. If you have less than 50 TM1 Users and less then 100 total Users, this could be an economic option.  See our blog Difference between Cognos Express and Enterprise Licensing? 

Buy in Bulk

When you buy licensing, discounts are always based on volume.  So, consider buying what you will need for the next year or two.  Yes, I understand your company doesn’t want to spend any more cash than they need too.  That is why we recommend leveraging IBM Global financing for purchase of new licenses.  Many clients have qualified for 0% interest.  

 For more information check out our blog on IBM Global Financing or IBM Financing.

Creative Example

A Cognos Analytics BI client recently came to me needing more licenses.  We evaluated their licensing model and determined they would be better off in the Express licensing model.  When we ran the numbers with discounts the transaction was a no brainer if it were any other time.  But it’s COVID! So, they were getting push back.  Lodestar recommended that with the purchase they prepay for 2 more years of support.  On the surface it looks like they would outlay more cash.  But then IBM Global Financing reviewed the client’s credit and offered 0% interest on the complete purchase for 36 months.  This was a huge win for the client as it helped address senior managements cash outlay concerns and the client benefited from huge volume savings.  Hint, the best time to get creative on purchases is at the time of renewal. If you want to get creative on how you can get funding approved for your upgrade and additional licenses, contact us at Sales@lodestarsolutions.com.

Save Money on IBM Cognos Analytics Support

Every year IBM sends you a notice of renewal.  You compare it to last year and gripe about the uplift.  But you need support, right?  For some of you, your executives might even question if they should pay for support.  If that’s you, check out our blog Consequences of Not Renewing IBM Cognos Support. 

But maybe there is a way to save money on IBM Cognos support. First you must answer, am I in the right product mix? Here’s a blog on How an IBM Cognos User Reduced Support Costs by $30,000! 

Buying Multiple Cognos Support Years to Save Money

Next you want to consider buying multiple years of IBM Cognos support at one time to save on the uplift percentage. Here’s how support typically works in IBM land.  When you buy software at a discount your year 2 renewal is based on your discounted purchase price.  IBM takes the purchase price, allocates 20% to support, and then uplifts it 10% annually until it hits list price at which time the uplift is 3% per year.  The idea is that you are benefiting from a volume discount.  But if you buy multiple years, you can negotiate a lower uplift. 

Again, if you used IBM Global financing and qualified for a low rate like 0%, you could leverage financing for the 24 or 36 months so you don’t have a cash outlay for the future years until later.

How to Save Money on Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics

We shared some creative ideas on how Lodestar Solutions has helped clients save a lot on money on Cognos Analytics and even get purchases approved during COVID.  But you are unique.  So, don’t try to go this alone! I recommend you work with a partner because salespeople within IBM focus on support, or licenses sales, but partners understand all the moving parts. Lodestar Solutions has your back and loves to create money saving solutions.  Just contact us at Sales@lodestarsolutions.com and we will help you evaluate your options.  Or call 813-415-2910.

Simplify Upgrades and Maintenance of Cognos Analytics BI – Motio Event

Simplify Upgrade
Simplify Upgrade
June 11th, 2020 ​

Are you ready to simplify the maintenance of your Cognos BI environment?

Regardless of whether you have upgraded to the latest version of Cognos Analytics, or are just thinking about it, you probably have a lot of untidy areas in Cognos.  Maybe you have reports without an owner because someone left.  Perhaps you have half built reports that have been abandoned. Have you had reports that steal all the resources and run for a long time?  As a busy BI professional, you know that maintaining all this is can be daunting!  So many reports and so little time.

The fact is Cognos Analytics is a lot like your garage. You keep thinking about organizing it but never quite find the time.  And, if you decided to move… Ugh.  Well, upgrading your Cognos Analytics is a little like moving because you want your new environment to be uncluttered and efficient as fast as possible.

Better Visibility to Cognos

Imagine if you had the capability to better understand what is really in your content store and when you upgrade, you moved only the good stuff.   What if when you upgrade your reports you could easily migrate important reports that you accidentally left behind?  What would your life be like if updating your Cognos Analytics environment with the new functionality was an opportunity for you to further advance analytics in your organization and end users respected you for empowering them with analytics?

Cognos Administrator Tools Not Enough

The good news is this can be your reality! For many of you, you have experienced that the tools included in IBM Cognos Analytics do not help you as much as you need.  The Lifecycle manager and other components in IBM Cognos Analytics are like using a weed whacker to mow your lawn.  You could do it, but it sucks up your time and could take your forever. 

Thrive with Cognos Analytics

But not to worry, there is a better way!  It is time to get the right tools in place to help you not just survive all the changes and upgrades but THRIVE and become known as the BI Rockstar that you know you are! 

On June 23rd, Lodestar is excited to be presenting a complimentary one- day hands on virtual workshop with Motio for all Cognos BI power users.

IBM Cognos Analytics Migration Virtual Classroom
Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020

VIRTUAL
9:30-4:30 Eastern
Registration Required – Seating Limited.

Register HERE!

In this amazing event you will learn:
  • Newest features in Cognos Analytics in action - understand how to leverage the new features to achieve your business goals. (For information check out our blog What’s New in Cognos Analytics 11.1.6) 

  • Inventory your Cognos implementation- grasp the scope of what you have in Cognos...learn how easy it is to identify the analytic gems from the junk (report complexity, duplicate reports, reports not being used, poorly designed content, etc.). Prioritize what to modernize after your upgrade.

  • Reducing the size of your Cognos migration (upgrades, CQM to DQM or Cloud)- a straightforward approach that speeds up your migration by simply removing the junk your organization does not use/need.

  • Repeatable testing reduces upgrade costs - experience the methodology and automated testing techniques that reduce the time/effort of your upgrades and ensure data accuracy/reliability in your upgraded environment.

This is an event you do not want to miss!  The last event filled up quickly so register to reserve your seat today.

Register HERE!

To learn more about upgrading Cognos Analytics with Motio check out our blog, Don’t Upgrade to Cognos Analytics without Motio!

If you have questions about Cognos Analytics, licensing or even your renewal, contact us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

IBM SPSS Stat Licensing Options

IBM SPSS Stat Options
June 3rd, 2020

Options for Buying IBM SPSS Statistics

Are you an IBM SPSS Statistics user or looking to buy SPSS Stat?  Then you must read this because IBM has changed their licensing model over the years, and you might be on the wrong licensing model!  There are many options for buying IBM SPSS Statistics.  IBM offers SPSS Stat as a subscription often called a SaaS model or the traditional on-premise licensing model.  Below I will explain the difference and things you might want to consider. 

Click here for more information on SPSS Stat.

IBM SPSS Stat as Subscription or On-premise Licensing

The SaaS, subscription model is really a hybrid SaaS approach.  You download and install the software on your machine, but your user access, entitlements and features are managed in the cloud.  The benefit is that it eliminated the need for authorization codes.  Since the software is on your machine you do not have to worry about your data being in the cloud, as it does not leave your machine. 

Benefits of SaaS SPSS Stat

Get Updates Faster - There are several benefits of SPSS Stat as a SaaS offering.  In addition to not having to deal with authorization codes, the updates are made more frequently and will be downloaded to your desktop.  So, you can get the enhancements sooner than if you had the on-premise licensing. 

Multiple Users - If you have multiple users of SPSS Stat the subscription licensing model may be a better fit.  You can enable as many users as you need for your team.  Where it makes life easier is that if you have a change in team members and need to reassign a license.  With the SaaS model you have user management features that simplify this process.  You can also easily move your subscription to a different machine. Check out this article for reference. 

Manage Devices

SPSS Stat Add Ons - Do you use advanced statistics, complex sampling and testing, or decision trees?  No worries, with SPSS Stat subscription you can add on the additional modules.  For help with the functionality including the various modules, email services@lodestarsolutions.com and we will provide you an easy to use cheat sheet of functionality.

How long do I get access to SPSS Stat? - In the SPSS Stat subscription model, you will have access to the updates and new releases as long as your subscription is active.  But note, if you discontinue or let the subscription lapse you will lose access. This is different than on-premise licensing as stated below.

IBM SPSS Stat On-premise Licensing

The alternative to SPSS Stat subscription is called on-premise licensing. This is the more traditional model of licensing.  For anyone that purchased before 2017, this is probably the model you are on.  But that does not mean that’s what you should be on! 

What is On-Premise SPSS?

On-Premise SPSS Stat licenses are considered an asset.  You purchase the software as a capital expense and then every year you renew and pay for support. The support subscription fees for SPSS Stat give you access to IBM support, patches, and updates, but only if you are current on support.  If you discontinue support, not recommended, you still own the asset and can use it, but you will not have access to updates.

Two Versions of On-Premise SPSS Stat

Just to add a little more complexity, it is important to note that IBM offers two different versions of what they call on-premise licenses for SPSS Stat.  One is called Fixed Term.  In fixed term you only get to use it for the term of the contract, usually a year.  So, it is almost like it is on premise but expires. The annual fee for this is usually less than purchasing the asset but if you plan to use SPSS Stat for 3+ years, it is typically cheaper long term to purchase the asset.  Additionally, the fixed term licenses for SPSS Stat is typically not a capital expense because you do not own an asset, but rather an operating expense. 

If you need help with support Lodestar’s team can help you determine if you should stay with your current licensing or if moving to the subscription model is a better option. Contact us at Renewals@lodestarsolutions.com.

Here a link to a previous blog on renewals. 

What type of SPSS Stat license should you buy? 

As we explained there are several options for buying IBM SPSS Statistics.  The type of license that is best for you, subscription or on-premise depends on your unique organization needs.  I know you hate that answer, but it is true.  But here is the good news.  Our Lodestar team members can help you determine what the best fit is!  We will give you your options, explain the difference and help you save money.  What are you waiting for?   Even if you have no clue what type of license you have, we can help decode your IBM SPSS and Analytic licenses.  Just contact us at renewals@lodestarsolutions.com

For more information click here

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