Selecting the right business intelligence tool to maximise your data's full potential and organisational requirements can be challenging.

This IBM Cognos Analytics overview includes everything you need to know to make an informed decision on finding the right BI solution for your organisation.

If your new to BI you'll learn what IBM Cognos Analytics is and how it can help your organisation. If your already familiar with IBM's Integrated Business Intelligence Suite we highlight the latest version features to help drive your strategy and tactics to grow your bottom line.

Give your company a competitive edge through meaningful business insights that deliver proven results. Start transforming your business today by talking with one of QMetrix Cognos TM1 consultants.

Your journey to better insights, starts here

CONTACT US

When first considering which BI tool to use you can not go past the most trusted innovation leader IBM. They are an industry powerhouse in the Performance Management and Analytics space with strong capabilities across the entire spectrum of Business Analytics and Information Management.

QMetrix has been an IBM Premier Business Partner for over a decade with extensive experience in delivering solutions using the IBM suite of tools. Our expertise is recommended to apply, customise and optimise BI tools for your business.

What is Cognos Business Intelligence (BI)?

IBM Cognos (now IBM Analytics) BI is a leader in business intelligence solutions providing broad analytic capabilities so that everyone in the organisation has the relevant information they need to drive the business forward through more informed and therefore smarter decisions.

IBM Cognos (now IBM Analytics) BI capability includes:

  • Dashboards
  • Reporting
  • Anaylsis
  • Mobile
  • Real time monitoring
  • Collaboration

How IBM Cognos TM1 Helps Grow Businesses?

IBM Cognos (now IBM Analytics) TM1 is an enterprise planning software platform that can transform your entire planning cycle, from target setting and budgeting to reporting, scorecarding, analysis and forecasting.

Cognos TM1 enables you to collaborate on plans, budgets and forecasts, and create models – including profitability models – to reflect a constantly evolving business environment.

  • Powerful planning and analysis
    Create and analyze sophisticated plans, budgets and forecasts, even those based on large data sets.
  • Integrated scorecards and strategy management
    Model metrics to measure progress toward objectives and link them dynamically to actions and forecasts.
  • Flexible modeling
    Develop and deploy even the most complex planning and analysis models using a guided modeling environment.

Why Do So Many SME Companies Choose Cognos Express?

IBM Cognos Express is a solution designed for SMEs and mid-market companies.

Cognos Express provides enterprise-class reporting, analysis, dashboard, visualization, scorecard, planning, budgeting and forecasting capabilities that midsize companies need at a price they can afford.

This scalable, pre-configured solution includes the tools to discover and act on new insights quickly while helping to minimize demands on your IT staff.

It is essentially an integrated and pre-configured platform of both Cognos BI and Cognos TM1 in one easy to install and affordable solution.

Planning analytics local dashboard interface view

IBM Planning Analytics Local 2.0 / TM1 10.3

IBM Planning Analytics Local 2.0 / TM1 10.3 is driven by the new Planning Analytics Workspace, which supports self-service interactive dashboards and visual analytics for web and mobile devices.

There is a new Excel add-on, IBM Planning Analytics for Excel (PAx), which is easier to use than TM1 Perspectives and also has synergy with Planning Analytics Workspace.

Don’t be alarmed though, the existing TM1 interfaces are still there with Architect and Perspectives largely the same.

However, TM1Web and Websheets specifically have a load of new UX, functional, and performance improvements. It also supports Windows 10 and Office 2016.

IBM Planning Analytics Local is not totally new, with many similarities to the existing cloud-based version of TM1 (called IBM Planning Analytics), which has been available for over a year now. It is essentially the on-premise version of the cloud based TM1, hence the suffix of Local.

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

Here are the key highlights you can now do in Planning Analytics Local, which you could not do before in TM1:

  • Perform web-based authoring of input templates, analysis, and reports
  • Drag and drop data from all TM1 Servers into a single web canvas
  • Apply Excel calculations and cell references within a slice / dice / pivot Experience
  • Perform slice/dice/pivot analysis on attribute data
  • Perform deeper analysis on intersections of multiple attributes from a single dimension
  • Discover reasons behind the numbers through embedded collaboration tools
  • Perform input and analysis using interactive dashboards on iPad and Android tablets
  • A new Excel add-in “Planning Analytics for Excel” (PAX)

VIRTUAL DIMENSIONS

The above points 4 and 5 are worth delving into deeper as you can now turn attributes into virtual dimensions!

This means cubes can now be half the size and twice as fast as you don’t need additional physical dimensions or multiple alternate hierarchies to drive analysis.

Attributes and hierarchies can be introduced into any query as ‘virtual dimensions’ for deeper analysis of your products, customers, projects, and locations. This also extends to multiple attributes or hierarchies for the same dimension in the same query. Furthermore, you can add fresh data to your analysis ‘on the fly’ with no disruption to cube structure, business rules, or processes.

In this below example, you can see how a single store dimension can be split up with an additional 2 virtual dimensions (by store type and by geography/location). This will significantly improve performance with reduced sparsity in the cubes and RAM usage, whilst also providing flexibility to add more attributes down the track which can be sliced out as virtual dimensions.

Virtual dimensions workspace view

Planning Analytics workspace view

The key features include:

  • Interactive dashboards
  • Natural language discovery
  • Synchronized navigation of objects
  • Web & mobile interfaces
  • Collaboration & chat

PLANNING ANALYTICS WORKSPACE

The Planning Analytics Workspace is a completely new user interface which allows you to plan and report in an intuitive self-service environment.

It shares the same technical DNA as Watson Analytics and Cognos Analytics so the look and feel is similar across the entire Business Analytics’ suite of tools.

It is a canvas based user interface design, where you can simply drag and drop TM1 views or Perspectives/PAx templates into a canvas which supports rich visualisations.

This allows you to easily combine data from various TM1 servers into a synchronised sheet to create interactive dashboards for planning, analysis, and reporting.

Users at any level of experience can author and create content for web or mobile consumption.

The workspace also supports for on the fly Ad-hoc calculations, over 25 Interactive chart types, web sheets, videos, images, shapes, access to all web content links and navigation buttons to create managed applications.

SERVER UPDATES

There are also a host of server updates which will please administrators and developers of TM1.

These include the following:

  • Dimension updates do not lock readers or writers
  • A TI Debugger (finally!)
  • Sandbox comparison
  • Workspace views / calculations
  • Faster loading when starting up servers with MTFeeders, which is similar to MTQ

TM1 WEB

TM1 web has been overhauled and updated with a newer refreshed user interface similar to that of Planning Analytics Workspace.

The improvements include:

  • Much quicker and faster loading/scrolling
  • Improved iPad support
  • Access to relational databases
  • A data picker

PLANNING ANALYTICS FOR EXCEL (PAX)

The new Excel add-on is essentially a rebranded CAFÉ, with an updated interface and Excel ribbon menu.

It includes the following features:

  • WAN friendly so no need to rely on terminal servers or Citrix
  • 85% compatibility with TM1 Perspectives (they are working towards 100%)
  • Drill through
  • Print report
  • Cell commentary in custom and dynamic reports
  • Set editor is not 100% equivalent
  • The Planning Analytics set editor web interface can be launched from PAx

 

Planning analytics for Excel (PAX) workspace view

EXISTING TM1 COMPONENTS

With the launch of the Planning Analytics Workspace and PAx, what happens to existing TM1 components?

Not much really.

IBM understands that existing customers are still highly dependent on Architect, Perspectives, TM1Web, and to a lesser extent Performance Modeller and TM1 Applications.

However, much of the focus and development will be on Workspace and PAx, so support for the “older” components will not be great going forward.

You need not worry about your existing investment though as existing models can be enhanced with the virtual dimension, cube views are 100% supported in PAx and Workspace as well. Existing worksheets, active forms and templates created in TM1 Perspectives are supported in Workspace.

There is one component that will not be transferable to Workspace, and that is TM1 Applications, however IBM are working on something new to be released in 2018, which may also include an overhaul of TM1 Web as well.

UPGRADE PATH FOR EXISTING TM1 CUSTOMERS

All existing TM1 on premise customers who are currently under maintenance can upgrade to Planning Analytics Local without any extra costs and will automatically get access to a lot of the new features and functionality described above.

However, and this is a big however, only the Administrator/Performance Modeller will be entitled to Workspace under the existing maintenance, all other users must purchase a separate Workspace Add-on licence if they want to use Workspace.

In terms of technical deployment, Planning Analytics Local will install quite differently to how the existing TM1 is usually installed and upgraded.

You will need to first install Docker, which is an open platform that allows deployment of applications inside a “container”.

These containers have their own filesystem, code, libraries and such and essentially wrap around an application like Planning Analytics.

Install planning analytics workspace

[Latest Release] IBM Cognos Analytics 11.0.6

IBM Cognos Analytics 11.0.6 is the most complete version since the major step release from 10 to 11.

Cognos Analytics 11.0.6 now includes enhanced functionality and capabilities to create self-service dashboards from OLAP (cube) data sources as well as significant improvements with the mapping engine to go down to state and postcodes.

Download from olap sources

DASHBOARDS FROM OLAP SOURCES

As mentioned above, one of the key updates with the 11.0.6 release is the ability to source and build dashboards from OLAP data sources, which includes TM1, MSAS, DMR Cognos Packages and more.

It is particularly exciting for those with TM1, Planning Analytics or Cognos Express as you can now build and put together strong visualisation dashboards from TM1 cubes with ease and even combine it with relational data sources to drill down into detail.

The way dimension hierarchies and levels are handled is also very intuitive and is well integrated into the charts, tables and other visualisations. As shown in the diagram to the right, you can easily traverse down or up a particular dimension path to see the children or parent levels.

Levels in olap sources

You can also now select and choose certain members you want to group up, aggregate or even have as filters.

The filtering option is not restricted to members of a dimension either, as you can select and filter by attributes giving even more flexibility in how to interact with cubes.

Cognos Analytics is certainly making a strong case to be the primary tool to conduct analysis over TM1 cubes.

It therefore means TM1 cube views may no longer be the quickest or best method of doing quick slice and dice analysis if Cognos Analytics is available.

It is certainly much more intuitive to use and less fiddly.

Mapping enhancements

MAPPING ENHANCEMENTS

One of the other big changes with 11.0.6 is the enhancements IBM have done with the inclusion of geospatial maps.

It is now more detailed than ever with improved boundaries and postcode support so users can now visualise data through differing levels all the way down to suburbs with greater accuracy. By differing levels, I mean having a top down view and drilling down from Country -> State -> Suburb.

REPORTING ENHANCEMENTS

IBM has created a new Reporter module that combines the functionality of the various Cognos 10 modules (Workspace Advanced and Report, Analysis and Query Studios) into a single user interface, allowing creation of simple ad-hoc query through to complex pixel perfect PDF report.

There are also a host of general reporting enhancements, some of these are backend changes to improve overall performance, while others are add new functionality. These improvements include:

  • Report Templates – similar to Word or Power Point templates, report templates allow you to have pre-set themes and styles. You can now save and modify existing templates.
  • Interactive Viewer – tweaks have been made to improve the overall performance of the interactive viewer making it load faster. There have also been functionality improvements such as freezing headers on lists.
  • Data Lineage – support for data lineage to trace back to the FM package and to the data source is now available in both interactive viewer and report editing mode.
  • Data Module Querying – report authors can now link to various other data modules within reports and modify the query to be use on that specific report. This includes creating more specific parametrised filters, custom calculations etc. and means previously created data modules can now reused to support various reporting requirements.

Reporting enhancements

SHOULD I UPGRADE?

If you are currently still on Cognos 10, now is certainly the time to plan an upgrade to Cognos Analytics (sometimes referred to as Cognos 11).

The future is now when it comes to Cognos BI, there are so many improvements that Cognos Analytics is now leaps and bounds head of Cognos 10 with all the enhancements around visualisation, ease of use, user experience, dashboarding, reporting and overall performance.

Now with improved integration with OLAP cubes (in particular TM1), there really is no other reason not to take the plunge.

Talk with the QMetrix TM1 consultants to identify the best solution for your business. Call 1300 785 336

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