Your IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics Software Deserves More Than Just a Renewal

IBM Support Renewal and Upgrade Bundle
IBM Support Renewal and Upgrade Bundle
Written by Heather L. Cole, February 16th, 2024

Are you navigating the complexities of renewing your IBM Analytics software directly with IBM, perhaps feeling uncertain about whether you're truly maximizing value? Or maybe you're at a crossroads with your current Cognos or Planning Analytics version, aware that it's inching closer to sunset and will soon be unsupported, leaving you in a quandary about finding the time and resources for an essential upgrade. If this resonates with you, it's time to consider a strategic pivot that could redefine your approach to your software renewal and upgrades. I'm Heather Cole from Lodestar Solutions, and we're here to introduce you to a game-changing opportunity that could alleviate your concerns and elevate your analytics capabilities.

Why Shift from Direct Renewals to Lodestar Solutions?

Choosing Lodestar Solutions for your IBM Analytics renewal isn't just about continuing your software support; it's about entering a partnership that extends far beyond a transactional relationship. Unlike direct renewals with IBM, which might offer a straightforward continuation of services, Lodestar Solutions enriches this experience with a suite of added benefits designed to enhance your team's efficiency, knowledge, and strategic insight into using IBM Analytics tools.

Did you know?

IBM offers clients that renew their Cognos, SPSS, or Planning Analytics licensing at the exact same rates that IBM Gold Partners, like Lodestar Solutions offer.  That’s right.  There are no extra savings by going directly with IBM.  However, there is extra VALUE by working with Lodestar Solutions.

Exclusive Access and Support: 

With Lodestar, every renewal comes with membership to our quarterly live virtual client-only user groups, membership in our monthly Analytic Success Klub to develop advanced soft skills, as well as quarterly webinars focusing on maximizing your analytics initiatives, and all clients get semi-annual reviews to ensure your needs are comprehensively met. Our approach is to not just renew but to empower, educate, and elevate your team's capabilities.

Introducing the Technical Upgrade and Support Renewal Bundle

Recognizing the challenges many face with upgrading to the latest versions of Cognos or Planning Analytics—be it due to technical resource constraints, time limitations, or the technical intricacies of an upgrade process—Lodestar Solutions offers a tailored solution: the Lodestar Solutions’ Upgrade and Support Renewal Bundle. This exclusive package is designed specifically for new clients who are at a critical juncture, needing to upgrade their software to stay current and supported.  We have offered upgrade bundles for years, see our blog, Solving the IBM Cognos Upgrade Challenge.  But now we are bundling our bundle with IBM support renewals.

Seamless Upgrade Experience:

Our Upgrade Bundle is the antidote to upgrade hesitations, providing the expert technical support needed to transition smoothly to the latest software version. This ensures you not only stay ahead of the curve with the most advanced analytics tools but also do so with the assurance of continuous support and guidance.

Fixed Rate:

Lodestar Solutions’ Upgrade Bundles provide your upgrades at a fixed rate, so there are no surprises in the cost if there are unforeseen issues with your upgrade.  Lodestar Solutions carries the risk.

Enhanced Value Proposition:

This bundle goes beyond a simple renewal or upgrade; it's a comprehensive solution that aligns with your strategic goals, offering unparalleled value. You'll benefit from our full suite of renewal advantages while ensuring your software remains cutting-edge, all within a framework designed to be cost-effective and supportive of your organizational needs.

Licensing Review:

As part of the bundle Lodestar will provide a complimentary License review to ensure you will not fail an audit, and identify if there is a more advantageous, economical licensing structure you may benefit from.  Did you know IBM clients should expect to be audited by IBM every 3-4 years?   About IBM Audits  You don’t want to fail an audit!

Make the Strategic Pivot Today

If your organization is directly renewing IBM Analytics software and facing the imminent need to upgrade, Lodestar Solutions' Upgrade and Support Renewal Bundle presents an opportune solution. It's an invitation to not just maintain your software but to strategically enhance it, supported by a partner dedicated to your success.

Let's redefine the way you approach your IBM Analytics software renewal and upgrade. Contact Lodestar Solutions at renewals@lodestarsolutions.com to explore this unique bundle tailored to new clients. 

Act Fast: Your IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics Software Deserves More Than Just a Renewal.  It's time to transition from direct renewals to a partnership that promises more than just continuation but a significant elevation of your analytics capabilities. Join us on this journey and unlock the full potential of your IBM Analytics investment with Lodestar Solutions.

Unveiling the Hidden Gem: IBM TechXchange – A Must-Attend Event for Cognos and Planning Analytics Clients

Unveiling the Hidden Gem IBM TechXchange - A Must-Attend Event for Cognos and Planning Analytics Clients
Unveiling the Hidden Gem IBM TechXchange - A Must-Attend Event for Cognos and Planning Analytics Clients
Written by Heather L. Cole, October 5th, 2023

In the vast landscape of technology conferences, IBM TechXchange 2023 stands out as a transformative event that rekindles the true spirit of knowledge sharing and camaraderie.  As an attendee who has witnessed the evolution of IBM events over the years, I can confidently say that this conference has breathed new life into the tech community. Let me take you on a journey through my experience at the recent IBM TechXchange in Vegas and why I believe that every IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics client should allocate funding for this exceptional event in 2024.

IBM TechXChange

Well Done IBM!

Firstly, IBM TechXchange 2024 was a breath of fresh air compared to previous IBM events that often felt like elaborate sales and marketing pitches.  The skepticism I initially harbored was quickly replaced by excitement and enthusiasm.  I admit I also had a little regret for not bringing my team.  Thanks to the brilliant leadership of Amy Tennison, IBM returned to its roots, offering a true geek session for technology enthusiasts like me.

Sessions

One of the standout features of TechXchange was the selection of session hosts.  These were not your typical corporate spokespersons, but real users and consultants deeply immersed in the technology.  For instance, "Cognos Paul" Mendelson, with his thought-provoking insights on AI, challenged us to think critically while also considering the broader implications of artificial intelligence.  This emphasis on genuine expertise fostered an atmosphere of authentic learning and engagement.

Certifications

IBM TechXchange exceeded the usual conference experience by allowing attendees to earn valuable certifications.  This practical aspect not only enhanced our skill sets but also offered tangible benefits for our professional growth.  It's rare to find a conference that educates and empowers attendees to enhance their credentials.

Networking

However, what truly set TechXchange apart was the networking opportunities it presented.  Unlike previous events with a heavy IBM presence, TechXchange featured fewer IBMers, allowing attendees to connect with peers, experts, and thought leaders from various industries. It was refreshing to see IBM championing the exceptional IBM Champions, individuals actively advocating for IBM technologies and positively impacting the world.  While it's natural to feel the pangs of imposter syndrome in their presence, the inspiration drawn from their endeavors is boundless.

IBM Champions

Why You Must Attend TechXchange 2024

So, why am I writing this?  I firmly believe that every IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics client should earmark funding for IBM TechXchange 2024.  Here's why:

  1. Genuine Learning: TechXchange offers an unparalleled learning experience led by industry experts, real users, and consultants who bring practical insights to the table.

  2. Certification Opportunities: The chance to earn certifications can significantly enhance your professional profile, making you a more valuable asset to your organization.

  3. Networking Goldmine: TechXchange facilitates meaningful connections with like-minded individuals, enabling you to exchange ideas and foster collaborations that could shape your career and business. Meeting with the Product Managers was a huge benefit for attendees.

  4. Inspiration and Advocacy: Meeting IBM Champions can ignite your passion for technology and motivate you to contribute positively to your field.

Summary

In conclusion, IBM TechXchange 2023 has redefined a tech conference.  It's not just an event; it's a catalyst for growth, learning, and connection.  If you're a Cognos or Planning Analytics client, do yourself a favor and allocate funding for this transformative experience.  Don't miss out on the opportunity to be part of a community that values knowledge, expertise, and innovation.  See you at TechXchange 2024, where minds are truly blown!

IBM TechXchange Conference EMEA 2024: Community & Learning for Tech Experts

  • 22-25 January 2024
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • CCIB - Centre de Convencions Internacional de Barcelona

IBM TechXchange Conference North America 2024 – TBD (typically September)

Stay up to date on the details here - IBM TechXChange

To learn about more valuable events worth attending, make sure you check out our Lodestar Solutions Event Page where we share all the details on game-changing events! 

What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace 88 and 89

What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace 88 and 89
What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace 88 and 89
Written by Mike Bernaiche, August 3rd, 2023

It has been a minute since I wrote about Planning Analytics Workspace so let’s jump into what is new in Planning Analytics Workspace 88 and 89.  There are some great new features in both versions so let’s get to it!

Books and Reporting

Planning Analytics Workspace 88

Synchronize Widgets at Group Level – you can create groups to synchronize visualizations at a group level.  Previously was only available at the book or sheet level.

Start by creating a synchronization group in sheet properties.  Once created you can click on your visualizations and assign them to groups.  Now you can limit what is synchronized or not with other visualizations.

Synchronize Widgets at Group Level in Planning Analytics Workspace 88

New Experience Dimension Editor in Books – previously only available in the workbench.

Subset Calculations in Context Section of View

Subset Calculations in Context Section of View in Planning Analytics 88

New Expand to and Keep with Options in Set Editor - Expand to adds members to the set, allowing you to display members of one level higher or one level lower, based on the selected hierarchy.  Keep with, previously named Show, replaces members in the set, based on the selected hierarchy.

New Expand to and Keep with Options in Set Editor in Planning Analytics Workspace 88
New Expand to and Keep with Options in Set Editor in Planning Analytics 88

Planning Analytics Workspace 89

New Selector Visualization in Books - The Selector visualization behaves much as selector list and selector tile widgets did, but there are multiple Custom visualization properties that you can apply to tailor the visualization for your purposes.

New Selector Visualization in Books in Planning Analytics Workspace 89
New Selector Visualization in Books in Planning Analytics Workspace 89

Pick Lists Use Font Assigned in Visualization - As of Planning Analytics Workspace 89, pick lists cells and pick list members use the font defined for the exploration by the Data cell font family property.

Resize Books to Fill Tab Space - Previously, the aspect ratio of the book and its contents was maintained. Now, all the contents in a book fit perfectly within the browser window and the aspect ratio setting is ignored. You can apply the Fill Space feature in several places: when creating a new book with tabs, a new book from a Fill Space template, and in Properties.

Applications and Plans

Duplicate Applications and Plans with Attachments – now when you duplicate an application or plan it will duplicate with any attachments in the original.

Complete Button for Tasks that Do not Require a Submission - A Complete button is now available on the contribution page for tasks that do not require submission. Previously, if a task in a plan did not require submission, there was no way to indicate that the task was complete.  This is new in Planning Analytics Workspace 89.

Modeling

Create and Insert Custom Code Snippets for Processes - If you have TurboIntegrator process code that you use frequently, you can now save the code as a custom snippet. You can insert a custom snippet into the Script tab of a process.

Create and Insert Custom Code Snippets for in Planning Analytics Workspace 89

Access Process Error Logs from Database Tree – right-click process and then select error log.

Synchronize User Groups in Planning Analytics Databases with Planning Analytics Workspace - Administrators and modelers can now synchronize user groups that are in a Planning Analytics database with the groups in Planning Analytics Workspace from the modeling workbench.

Duplicate Cubes in Cube Viewer - Clicking on the Duplicate button allows you to create a duplicate of the current cube view.

Duplicate Cubes in Cube Viewer Planning Anlaytics Workspace 89

Depreciation Notice

Classic Cube Viewer – Starting in Planning Analytics Workspace 90, the classic cube viewer will no longer be available in Planning Analytics Workspace.

Summary

The updates for Planning Analytics Workspace 88 and Planning Analytics Workspace 89 include a number of updates to make your reporting and modeling experience even better. 

Do you need to upgrade?  Contact us at services@lodestarsolutions.com to discuss your need and our special upgrade bundles to save you time and dollars!! 

For more information on what is new in Planning Analytics Workspace, check out the below links.

2.0.88 - What's new, June 21, 2023

2.0.89 - What's new, July 24, 2023

And in case you missed it, here is what's new in Planning Analytics Workspace 87


Are you looking to level up your analytic knowledge?  Contact us at services@lodestarsolutions.com and ask about our Analytics Success Klub (ASK). Learn more here.  

Unlocking the Full Potential of IBM Subscription and Support for Cognos and Planning Analytics: X, Y, and Z Parts Explained

IBM Support has recently introduced exciting changes to their extended support offerings for IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics
IBM Support has recently introduced exciting changes to their extended support offerings for IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics
Written by Christina Vandeveer, July 26th, 2023

IBM Support has recently introduced exciting changes to their extended support offerings for IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics, going above and beyond the usual IBM Subscription and Support (S&S) renewal. In this blog, we will explore the three main IBM Subscription and Support Updates (X, Y, and Z Parts) and how they can benefit your business. Before delving into the updates, let's first understand the importance of your standard IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics S&S and what it includes.

The Value of IBM Standard Subscription and Support (S&S):

Before exploring the updates, let's take a closer look at what your IBM S&S entails. This comprehensive chart will outline the details of what you're paying for, ensuring you understand its significance.

IBM Base Subscription and Support

IBM Extended Support (X Parts):

IBM's Extended Support has been revamped to offer clients support after the standard support period ends for their program version or release. The updated X Parts include:

  • Standardized support life cycle with four years of support after the EOS date.
  • Access to usage and existing published fixes.
  • First-year coverage for new critical fixes.
  • Additional time for clients to migrate to a newer supported version of the product.

IBM Sustained Support (Y Parts):

The all-new Sustained Support Offering provides clients with continued support when no new versions or releases are available for a program. Key features of Y Parts include:

  • Standardized support life cycle with up to 5 years of post-EOS support for End of Market products.
  • Access to usage and existing published fixes.
  • Possibility of new critical fixes with the acquisition of Extended Support.

IBM Advanced Support (Z Parts):

Introducing the premium support model, Advanced Support, which enhances your active IBM support subscription with the following perks:

  • Higher case prioritization for critical issues.
  • Faster response time objectives.
  • Lead Technical Support Focal for personalized assistance.

For busy professionals with deadlines and CFOs to answer to, waiting for support is not an option. IBM's Advanced Support is designed to help you manage your critical workload efficiently, available for both SaaS and On-premise licensing.

Find out more about IBM's Advanced Support Offering

Conclusion

The new IBM Subscription and Support Upgrades (X, Y, and Z Parts) offer a host of benefits for Cognos and Planning Analytics clients, to help you make the most of your IBM products. At Lodestar, we're here to guide you through these options and find the best fit for your business. When the time comes to renew or upgrade your Cognos and Planning Analytics licenses, don't fret; we've got you covered. Contact us at renewals@lodestarsolutions.com, and we'll explore the perfect solution for your needs.

The Power of IBM Planning Analytics for Mid-Market Companies: Leveling Up from Excel

The Power of IBM Planning Analytics for Mid-Market Companies Leveling Up from Excel
The Power of IBM Planning Analytics for Mid-Market Companies Leveling Up from Excel
Written by Heather L. Cole, June 14th, 2023

In the fast-paced world of mid-market companies, there's a hero waiting to rescue you from the clutches of outdated spreadsheets.  No, it's not a caped crusader, but something even better - IBM Planning Analytics!  Buckle up and get ready for an exciting journey as we uncover the game-changing benefits of IBM's solution and bid farewell to Excel, the aging superhero of yesteryears.

Pricing that Won't Give You Nightmares:

Forget about breaking the bank or sacrificing your firstborn for a planning and analytics tool.  IBM understands that mid-market companies have budgets too, which is why they offer pricing options designed specifically for smaller deployments and departmental use.  Finally, a solution that won't leave you in tears when you check your bank account!  Email sales@lodestarsolutions.com to get a quote and save yourself from financial frights.

Join Forces with the Mid-Market Masters - Lodestar Solutions:

Who needs a trusty sidekick when you have Lodestar Solutions by your side?  We have been laser-focused on making mid-market companies successful with IBM Planning Analytics since 2004.  With IBM Planning Analytics’ superpowers of robust budgeting, planning, and what-if capabilities, Lodestar Solutions will guide you through the planning galaxy and help you conquer any data-related challenges.  Schedule a call with them at sales@lodestarsolutions.com and unleash your inner superhero!

AI, the Crystal Ball of Analytics:

Prepare to be mind-blown!  IBM Planning Analytics has been infused with AI, giving you the power of advanced forecasting capabilities.  No more relying on fortune cookies or flipping a coin to make critical decisions.  With AI-driven insights, you'll feel like you have a crystal ball that predicts market trends, demand patterns, and future scenarios.  

Lodestar is consistently releasing blogs on all the latest updates for IBM's Planning Analytics and much more! Be sure to follow us on Linkedin and check out all our blogs

Excel's Retirement Party:

Let's face it - Excel has served us well, but it's time for a retirement party.  Bid farewell to the days of dealing with complex formulas, error-prone fat-fingering, and hair-pulling frustration.  IBM Planning Analytics is here to save the day with its intuitive interface, real-time data consolidation, and advanced modeling capabilities.  Say goodbye to Excel's wrinkles and hello to a streamlined planning process that will make you dance like nobody's watching!  To learn more about what is possible with IBM Planning Analytics and how it compares to Excel see our video - Have You Outgrown Excel for Budgeting & Planning? 

Expand Your Way to Success:

With IBM Planning Analytics, the fun never stops.  Extend your planning processes beyond finance to include sales, marketing, and distribution... all connected to reflect the constant changes in business today.  Say goodbye to spreadsheet nightmares and hello to features like multidimensional modeling, scenario modeling, driver-based planning, and dynamic reporting.  You'll be dancing with joy as you uncover deeper insights, make accurate forecasts, and outsmart your competition.  Who said planning and analytics can't be fun?

Conclusion:

Get ready to unleash your inner Analytic superpowers and embrace the agile world of IBM Planning Analytics.  With tailored pricing, support from the thought-provoking experts at Lodestar Solutions, AI-driven forecasting, and the retirement party of Excel, mid-market companies can find success while having fun.  So, take the first step and email sales@lodestarsolutions.com to schedule a call and discover how IBM Planning Analytics can turn your financial processes into an industry-dominating adventure.  It's time to level up your Planning with IBM!

BONUS!

Should you choose to partner with Lodestar Solutions as your sidekick, you gain access to several client-only offerings such as our quarterly Planning Analytics User Group where we share all the latest and greatest of IBM’s Planning Analytics tools.  Featuring live demos, Q&A, and breakout discussion time, you’ll leave with a wealth of knowledge and support.

Also free to Lodestar clients is our Analytics Success Klub!  Are you ready to ASK for success?  Our Analytics Success Klub is not your ordinary monthly subscription program.  It's a community of ambitious analytics professionals who are serious about their soft skills.  We're talking about communication, influence, facilitation, presentation, negotiation, storytelling, and more.  And this is FREE to Lodestar Solutions clients.  Click here to learn more about our ASK program and contact sales@lodestarsolutions.com to become a client!

Why Upgrade Planning Analytics?

Why Upgrade Planning Analytics
Why Upgrade Planning Analytics
Written by Heather L. Cole, May 18th, 2023

Are you challenged to get the funding or resources to upgrade your IBM Planning Analytics?  Maybe your team is too busy just keeping their heads above water with all the requested changes to your Planning or Budgeting models.  Maybe IT says it’s not a priority… Today I’ll share 3 talking points to help you make upgrading a priority.

1. Lack of Support for outdated Versions -

The most important reason for upgrading your IBM Planning Analytic software with the latest version is that older versions are not supported by IBM.  Like all software companies IBM only supports a specific number of versions.  At some point they will announce that a version will be sunset which means they will no longer offer support for the old version.  What this means is if you have an issue like the Log4G issue that presented itself in Dec 2021, they may require you to upgrade to resolve the issue or security risk. 

You may be thinking, but we haven’t had to log a support ticket with IBM in years.  What we find is disaster strikes, not because Planning Analytics had a bug, but rather because a client upgrades their SQL or other 3rd party software, and it breaks the connect with the old version of Planning Analytics. 

Imagine this… You are in the middle of your budget cycle and Microsoft updates their software.  But the new Microsoft update is not compatible with your version of IBM Planning Analytics and suddenly your Planning software is not working.  End users start calling and emailing.  After a little investigation you log a support case with IBM.  Then you get the news, that the update from Microsoft is not compatible with your version of IBM Planning Analytics but since you are on an old unsupported version, IBM will not create the patch, and you must upgrade.  All this in the middle of a budget cycle.  How stressed would you feel?  What would you do? 

Well, this has happened to a client.  The client was extremely stressed because the CEO, was apprised of the situation.  They called Lodestar Solutions, in a panic.  We were able to restore them to where they were before the update, but you could feel the panic.

Another client had the SSL Certificate expire 3 days before their budget cycle.

So, it happens, but you don’t want it to happen to you.  So, if you are on an old version, reach out to us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com  and let’s discuss your plan.

In order to see if you are on an old version of IBM Planning Analytics check out this link.

2. New Functionality will save you time!

Another reason you should upgrade your IBM Planning Analytics is that they are always releasing new functionality.  IBM continuously adds functionality to the software.  The functionality is based on what clients are asking for, so the enhancements are often game changing.  But here’s the thing, if you don’t take time to learn what’s new you will continue to use the software the way you always have.

Imagine trading in your 2010 car and never using the auto breaking, blue tooth or airplay that comes with a modern car, because you didn’t bother to ask about the new functionality.  Well, with software it happens more than we would like to admit.  Clients upgrade and they never stop to explore the new features.  But there is a simple resolution.  Email Services@lodestarsolutions.com and we can discuss all the cool new stuff and share how our clients utilized the functionality.   Here’s the link to a previous blog on the new functionality.

3. Keep Talented Team Members

Would you mow you ½ acre lawn with a weed eater?  Probably not.  You would want the right tool, a lawn mower for the task.  Well top talent is the same way.  Top analytics performers want the latest tools to perform their jobs.  Keeping updated IBM Planning Analytics software and investing in their growth and learning will help you attract talent, keep it, and win the analytics race.

Call to Action

So, what are you waiting for?  Take the first step.  Open your IBM Planning Analytics and check your current version.  Then click the link Life cycle to see if it’s supported.  Next contact Lodestar Solutions to discuss the functionality you might not know exists in your current version.  Email Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Stop Spreadsheet Anarchy, Increase End User Adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics

Stop Spreadsheet Anarchy, Increase End User Adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics
Stop Spreadsheet Anarchy, Increase End User Adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics
Written by Heather L. Cole, March 1st, 2023

The number one question I get asked from our IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics customers is, “How can we increase end user adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics?”  One client made me laugh when they asked, “How do you control spreadsheet anarchy within an organization?  The ongoing trend by some is to grab large amounts of data from multiple published data sources and spin up highly customized versions of existing reports or parts of other reports.”   Spreadsheet Anarchy, what a great way to describe it.  It’s time to stop spreadsheet anarchy and increase end user adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics.

Today I’ll share a few secrets to increasing end user adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics.

Listen to End Users Challenges

The first step to solving spreadsheet anarchy is to understand why end users are not using the tools you are providing.  When you stop telling them to use Cognos or Planning Analytics and start listening to their challenges and why they feel the tools are not meeting their needs, you will discover the cause.  In our experience the cause is one or more of the following:

  •  the end users were not properly trained on Cognos or Planning Analytics.
  • clients are on an outdated release and the functionality they seek is in a new release.
  • the data they seek has not been incorporated into Cognos or Planning Analytics.
  • functionality has been restricted by administrators.

Share the WHY!

After you listen to their challenges and why they are using spreadsheets, it’s important to share the WHY.  Why is it important that they use the tools you provide?  Is it that you want to ensure everyone is working from the validated and secured data?  If so, share what happens when decisions are made on bad data.  Is it to eliminate the errors that spreadsheets are prone to having?  We recommend you create a list of why you need your users to standardize and make sure your team knows how to communicate the message.

Engage Users in The Creation (WORKSHOPS)

It’s been long proven that people support and embrace what they create.  A fast way to increase end user adoption is to engage end users in the design and development of the solution.  I know you may be thinking whoa that would be nuts, they don’t know how to create reports or models.  But hear me out, you don’t need them to create the Cognos reports or Planning Analytics models, you need to let them discuss the business goals they are tasked with achieving and the challenges they are facing.  The best way to do this is by hosting workshops.  Workshops can be held live, in person, or virtually via zoom.  If you are not familiar with workshops check out or blog on Discovering Requirements.

Continuous Training of New Functionality

The next step to increase end user adoption of analytics is to provide continuous training.  Do you see that?  CONTINUOUS!  IBM keeps adding new functionality to the software and end users typically only really learn what they need to use at the time.  So, it’s important to provide continuous training and workshop opportunities for your end users.  Consider building a training program internally.  If you need help with training, here’s a link to how Lodestar Solutions can help. 

IBM Infusing AI & Improve Self Reliance

IBM has done a great job of working to help increase end user adoption of Cognos and Planning Analytics as well.  They have done this in a number of ways.

Better In Application Help

Do you remember the day of the Red Books?  They were guides to help you use Cognos.  Or maybe you purchased the big, IBM Cognos TM1 The official Guide, and had it on your desk.  Lugging that around was a good workout. 

IBM Cognos TM1 The official Guide

Today IBM has incorporated the details you need into their in application help and search.  This empowers end users to try new things and feel more confident using the solutions.

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

IBM has incorporated NLP capabilities in Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics, which enables users to ask questions in natural language (normal words) and get answers in a human-like response.  This allows for more intuitive and user-friendly interactions with the software.

Predictive Analytics

One of the coolest things we are seeing from IBM is the integration of  predictive analytics capabilities into Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics.  This allows users to forecast trends and identify patterns in data.  This is especially useful for Planning Analytics users that want to leverage the data to forecast out the future.  The result is end users can make more informed decisions and optimize their business strategies.

Cognitive Computing

Did you notice IBM changed the name of their products again?  Cognos is now IBM Cognos Analytics with Watson, and TM1 became Planning Analytics, and is now IBM Planning Analytics with Watson.  Well, it was not just the marketing team being creative.  IBM has incorporated cognitive computing and Watson technologies into Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics.  This includes the use of machine learning algorithms and other advanced analytics techniques to automate data analysis and decision-making processes.

Intelligent Automation

IBM has introduced greater automation capabilities in Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics, which allows for the automation of routine data tasks such as data preparation, cleansing, and transformation.  Automation is the key to increasing productivity, so look at where you are spending time doing repetitive tasks and see if you can automate it.  This will give you time to focus on more complex data analysis and strategic decision-making.  (Cognos Automation)

Cognos SDK

For Cognos users the IBM Software Development Kit (SDK) is used to automate many tasks.  But what a lot of users don’t know is IBM includes the Cognos SDK in the Admin license.  This has not always been the case.  You used to need to buy a separate license.  Here’s our very old blog, where we informed everyone of this change. 

The Answer

We can all agree it’s time to stop spreadsheet anarchy and increase end user adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics.  The first step is to create a Plan that includes engaging with your end users.  I am a huge fan of workshops because they can align the teams and build camaraderie even if done virtually.  Keep an eye out, Lodestar will be sharing more on hosting workshops soon.

If you are on an old release of Planning Analytics or Cognos, it’s probably time to upgrade.  Lodestar solutions can help you plan your upgrade and provide technical services and training for your team.  For more information email services@lodestarsolutions.com.

What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace Version 80 and 81

What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace Version 80 and 81
What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace Version 80 and 81
Written by Mike Bernaiche, November 3rd 2022

It is that time to discuss what is new in Planning Analytics Workspace version 80 and 81!  Planning Analytics Workspace (PAw) 80 was released in September and version 81 was released at the end of October.  IBM has been releasing updates roughly every 30 days and continues to enhance PAw with many new features.  Please remember, that each update includes all the other fixes and enhancements in previous updates.  If you are on version 70 and install version 81 you will get all the features, enhancements and fixes included in version 71 through 81!  I highly recommend upgrading to Planning Analytics Workspace version 80 and 81.

PAw Version 80

Reporting

Member Unique Names in set editor – you are now able to see member unique names when you hover over members in the available member pane.  A member unique name is used to locate a member in the data source and includes the member name and its ancestry.

Search the Set List in Set Editor – A new search bar lets you search a set list.

Search the Set List in Set Editor

Drag a View to Replace the Current Visualization - You can now drag a cube or a cube view from the data tree onto an existing visualization to replace the visualization.  The visualization updates based on the view you drop.

Zoom Bar is Line, Area and Bar Visualizations - Use the Enable zoom bar property to add the zoom bar to your visualization.  Drag a handle on the bar to zoom and focus on an area in the visualization.  The area of focus changes as you drag the handle.

Modeling

New Experience Set Editor on Modeling Bench - Set editors that are opened or created from the Databases tree on the modeling workbench now use the new experience interface. Previously, the new set editor was available only through the new experience view.  Sets that were opened or created from the Databases tree used the classic interface.

Updated Chore Editor – The chore editor has been updated to Carbon Design.

Updated Reorder Dimensions – The reorder dimension option has been updated to Carbon Design.

Check Feeders in an Exploration on a Modeling Workbench - If a cube contains a rule with SKIPCHECK and FEEDERS statements, you can use the Check Feeders option to check that Planning Analytics properly feeds the components of a consolidation.

Depreciation Notices

Chore editor removed from books, available only on workbenches as of Planning Analytics Workspace 2.0.80 - Starting with Planning Analytics Workspace 2.0.80, chores must be created and edited on a modeling workbench.

Set editor in a widget to be removed from books as of Planning Analytics Workspace 2.0.81 - The ability to add a set editor in a widget from the data tree in Books will be depreciated in Planning Analytics Workspace 2.0.81.  Currently, when you select Edit Set from the data tree, the classic experience set editor opens in a widget.

PAw Version 81

Reporting

Single Cell Widget is now Visualization Type - The single cell widget is now a visualization type and has several new capabilities.  You can create a single cell visualization and convert it to a view (exploration) or another visualization and vice versa.

Single Cell Widget is now Visualization Type

Align Cells and Headers - In explorations, you can align text in data cells and headers either vertically or horizontally.  You can align a row or column of data cells, align a member in row and column headers, and align based on hierarchy.

Applications and Plans

Use Rich Text Formatting in Plan and Application Descriptions -

Use Rich Text Formatting in Plan and Application Descriptions

Task Flow View in Plans – On the plan task tab you can switch between the task list view and task flow view.

Task Flow View in Plans

Modeling

Updated Import Member Procedure - Import members procedure for a dimension has been updated to use Carbon Design.

Snippets in the Process Editor - The process editor in Planning Analytics Workspace provides predefined code snippets that users can insert in the TurboIntegrator process.  To use the snippets, on the Script tab in the process editor, click the snippet icon in the toolbar, as highlighted in the following image.

Administration

Include Plans and Applications when copy and deploy assets with Lifecycle Management.

Depreciation Notices

Set editor in a widget to be removed from books as of Planning Analytics Workspace 2.0.81 - The ability to add a set editor in a widget from the data tree in Books will be depreciated in Planning Analytics Workspace 2.0.81. Currently, when you select Edit set from the data tree, the classic experience set editor opens in a widget.

Summary

Planning Analytics Workspace version 80 and 81 continues to add amazing new features and enhancements to PAw.  I believe it is very important to stay updated on the latest version.  If you want to discuss in more detail or need help with your upgrades reach out to us at services@lodestarsolutions.com.  We have some great update packages to help you stay up to date!

IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics Price Increase Coming!

IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics Price Increase Coming!
IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics Price Increase Coming!
Written by Heather L. Cole and Mike Bernaiche, October 21st 2022

Inflation is everywhere!  Have you seen the price of eggs lately?  Well, I am sure you will not be surprised that inflation is impacting the technology industry too.  Software costs, support renewal costs and consulting are all rising.  IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics price increase is coming in January 2023.  Unlike the price of eggs that increases every trip to the store IBM has held their prices all year. But that’s about to change!

(Want to learn more about what’s causing this inflation, check out this NY Times article.)

IBM Price Increase

IBM has announced that effective January 1, 2023, that most of their products worldwide will increase 8% with a few countries increasing at a different rate.  See IBM’s recent announcement for your specific country. 

For many of us 8% seems outrageous, but is it?  The Consumer Price Index is around 8.2%.  Pricing all around us from gas, to food, to well everything is increasing.  Even the government is recognizing inflation by increasing social security payments in 2023 by 8.7%.  So, thank you IBM.  An 8% increase by IBM is not that bad. 

Take Action Now!

Budget and Save Money

My goal is to make sure every IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics client knows the 8% price increase is coming.  This should allow you to plan accordingly and make sure your budget for 2023 reflects this increase because your annual software support renewal will reflect the 8% increase.  For some IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics clients that have not reviewed their licensing with an IBM licensing expert recently, there may be ways to reduce your support costs.  At Lodestar Solutions we have helped hundreds of clients save on support by ensuring they are in the correct licensing mix.  Think of it this way, licensing is like a cell phone plan, IBM comes out with new bundles and licensing models periodically.  But, if you don’t ask if you are on the right licensing plan, you might end up paying more than you need to.  (See our blog How to Save Money on Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics)

If you would like a licensing review with one of our IBM Licensing experts, email Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Buy Software Now to Save

The second reason I want to sing this from the roof tops is that there is an opportunity!!  If you believe you will need additional licenses of IBM Cognos, IBM Planning Analytics, SPSS or any other IBM products in 2023 you might want to act now!  Many clients Lodestar Solutions’ works with are in acquisition and merger mode.  If this is you, you may need more licenses with your acquisition.  Or maybe you are rolling out new dashboards or planning models and need to add users.

It’s important to know that December is IBM’s end of year, which is always the best time to buy software and the pricing is still at 2022 rates.

NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY SOFTWARE!

Buy Future Year's Support to Save

But let me tell you a little trick!  Often when a client makes a significant purchase, they miss an opportunity to lock in their future year’s support.  How can you lock in support?  If you prepay for 2 years with your purchase, you will reduce the annual uplift and save money. 

Now, I know you are thinking “we don’t want to spend our cash.”  So, consider leveraging IBM Global Financing to purchase your licenses and 2 more years of support.  At Lodestar Solutions, we can help you do the analysis to see what rates you qualify for with IBM Global financing and see if the numbers work to save you money.  (Learn more about IBM Global Financing)

Consulting Rates Increasing Too

I would be remised if I did not also announce that Lodestar Solutions, and most consulting firms are increasing their rates too. 

Over the past year we have done our best to keep prices for our services at the same rates we have had for the last 5+ years. As we mentioned above, costs are rising and as such we will be increasing the price for services approximately 8.5% in 2023. This cost increase will be reflected on Statements of Work created starting Jan 1, 2023.  We hate to do this but to retain our top talent we need to compensate them fairly.

Lodestar Solutions offers many services including:

  • Technical Support – This includes upgrades, installation of new IBM Analytics software, database work, security and much more.
  • Planning Analytics and Cognos Analytics Consulting Including - architecture, modeling, model redesign, end user reporting and dashboard creation.
  • Power BI Consulting – data, creating reports, and visualizations.
  • Training – Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics training for both the novice and experienced. Including both modeler and end user training.

This is our first consulting price increase in many years, and we strive to show value far above the cost.

Lodestar Value Add -

This is our first consulting price increase in many years, and we strive to show value far above the cost.  One of the benefits that add a ton of value to our clients is our Lodestar Solutions’ Client Only, Quarterly Virtual User Groups. These are live interactive events that allow our clients to network and learn from our other clients.  We record all content and offer our clients access to our library of prior users group sessions.  This allows Lodestar clients to reference our content at any time. If you are a current Lodestar client and have not accessed your library, please reach out to us at services@lodestarsolutions.com and we will help you get access.

Our next user group is scheduled for Nov 15, 2022 (Cognos Analytics) and Nov 17, 2022 (Planning Analytics) at 11am – 2pm est. If you are an active Lodestar client and want to attend but have not received an invitation, please reach out to us at services@lodestarsolutions.com and we will ensure you are on the right list.

In Summary

Unfortunately, a lot of things must happen to slow inflation.  IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics Price Increase is Coming.  We can’t stop that. But we all can plan and take action NOW to SAVE MONEY!  If you would like to discuss your unique situation, email us at sales@lodestarsolutions.com.

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!

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