Monday, May 7, 2012

Cognos Insight, Business Insight, Cognos Consumer Insight ?!?

Newer product and feature names in Cognos can be mind boggling for both, the new user as well as the seasoned one. The width and depth of the Cognos series of products has increased enormously from the times of PowerPlay and Impromptu, giving way to multiple studios and more of them in the latest C10 release. Many factors contribute to such a growth. For example, acquisitions, new functionality, branding attempts or simply additions of products which tend to have the same end but different means.

So what are these products ? Are they related ?

Cognos Insight is IBM's product for the individual user. It is a great starting point to move from an ad-hoc tool like spreadsheets towards a platform based solution. It allows quick import of data, ad-hoc analysis, slicing and dicing, and so on. For complete information about that tool, please check this LINK.

Business Insight (and Business Insight Advanced) are Cognos BI features. They are not products in themselves but are part of the BI platform. Business Insight is used to quickly create effective dashboards. Business Insight Advanced on the other hand is used to further manipulate the individual components of a dashboard, if the user wishes to. More information about these features can be found HERE.

IBM Cognos Consumer Insight enables marketing professionals to be more precise, agile and responsive to customer demands and opinions expressed through social media by analyzing large volumes of publicly available Internet content – and connecting seamlessly to IBM business analytic environments. More information about this product can be found HERE.

There seems to be no concrete relation between these products albeit seamless integration is a norm today and there might be a possibility of integration between these products and features. While there is no clarity as to whether this naming convention is a deliberate branding attempt by IBM Business Analytics, if that is indeed the case, there will be more Insights in the offing. For now of course, we have just these three to reckon.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Improved Credential Management in Cognos 10

There have been several enhancements in the area of credential management in the Cognos 10 release. Here is the documentation link which talks about this - LINK.

And here is the link to a Proven Practices document which has these parameters covered in detail.

Courtesy: Rajib Bhattacharya.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cognos Statistics

One of the lesser known features of Cognos is the Cognos Statistics feature which was introduced in C10. This feature comes as a separate package but reports which utilize this package are accessible by all BI Consumers. This feature allows users to use common statistical functions and charts in reports.

This is not as extensive as having a full fledged SPSS installation but comes handy for general statistical analysis. Limited prior statistical knowledge is necessary to use Cognos Statistics. All Cognos data sources are supported.

The combination of BI and Statistics is a very powerful one. For example, your reports can now have statistical charts like control charts, histograms, boxplots, descriptive tables. You can now perform regression and correlation analysis on your data.

The verticals that this can be useful can include but would not be limited to manufacturing, health care, human resource management and financial services. For example, you can use a box plot to better understand distribution of employee age, salary, designation, etc. You could use correlation to understand the relationship between weather and incidences of virus related outbreaks. Statistical Process Control is another area where this feature will come handy - mostly useful in organizations with a Six Sigma focus.

Usage of Cognos Statistics is available in most tools that are used to create reports and dashboards in C10. But for a detailed list of tools that do and do not support Statistics, please contact your sales/support representative.

Also, Cognos Statistics is a new service that plugs into the Cognos SOA architecture. It has it's overheads, but also provides the flexibility to place it on any dispatcher. It is advised that architecture and sizing decisions be taken in consultation with support and lab services.

Here are two quick videos which explain Cognos Statistics in brief:

In case, you need a deeper understanding, please contact your sales/lab representative for arranging a training session.

The Statistics Installation and Configuration Guide can be found HERE.
Detailed information for using statistical analysis in Report Studio can be found HERE.

Using RSS feeds as a data source !

We recently had a customer requirement in which they wanted to present RSS feeds on a dashboard. This seems pretty easy to do with the Business Insight RSS Feed widget. But that widget is pretty limited in it's functionality since it was meant to be used by business users rather than technical folks.

To overcome that limitation, it was suggested to them to convert the RSS feed into an XML and then use the XML as a data source. Once the XML is available as a data source, it opens up many avenues for usage of that data.

This Proven Practice article is a good starting point.

And some more posts from Rajib ..

A new Proven Practice on Cognos security has been published, the details of which can be found HERE.

A nice post on Cognos 10 and Collaborative BI can be found HERE.

Ever thought of supplementing enterprise data with your own or personal data file? This will allow you to create a report using an external file that contains data which is not a part of the enterprise data that your Business Intelligence tool regularly accesses. With IBM Cognos 10 BI you can link this type of scenario data with enterprise data and create a professional report easily. Know how this can be done HERE.

A series of posts on IBM Cognos Mobile can be found HERE, HERE and HERE.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Trimming large sized Active Reports

We recently had a customer who had a 55 MB mht file being created for his Active Report. The report had two level of drill downs with charts and crosstabs on the deck. This kind of size is generally not recommended for Active Reports, especially if the Active Report is to be used on an iPad. It is important to note that an iPad is a relatively small form device.

On further analysis it was found that there were many charts in the .mht with no data and many of them were inaccessible by the end user. This was pointed out to the team on the ground. They then tweaked the queries driving the card creation and the file size was reduced to as little as 8.5 MB.

These guidelines were used by the team on the ground.