Susan Ma

About Susan Ma

Susan is a Senior Analytics Consultant at Ironside with over a decade of experience in business intelligence, database development, and web app development under her belt. Her mix of experience has made her into one of Ironside’s top experts when it comes to creating highly customized solutions, reshaping analytics systems, designing complex metadata and ETL workflows, and integrating analytics applications into other tools. Susan’s Specialties: Custom and high performance BI applications, web development, system architecture, ETL, database/data warehouse development.
12 Jun 2017

The Iterative Data Warehouse: A Modern Take on Centralized Analytics

By | June 12th, 2017|Categories: Advisory, Information Management, Strategy & Innovation|Tags: , , , , , , |

The simple truth about data warehouses is that the traditional “big bang” method of building them doesn’t work for most organizations anymore. The diversity of data sources and formats we can access is constantly expanding, and taking them all on at once to form a single central repository results in a massive project that can [...]

29 Apr 2015

The Why, What, Who, and How of Successful Hadoop Deployment

By | April 29th, 2015|Categories: Advisory, Information Management, Strategy & Innovation|Tags: , , , , |

Today, our world is filled with data. It has quietly become part of our daily life, and we’ve changed our routines to accommodate it. Beyond the impact it’s had on us, data itself has dramatically changed over the past two decades due to continual advances in internet and storage technology. Almost everything we interact with [...]

1 Dec 2014

Business Analytics Anywhere: IBM Cognos Mobile

By | December 1st, 2014|Categories: Advisory, Business Intelligence, Reporting|Tags: , , , , |

Nowadays, anyone from age two to ninety interacts with the internet in some form. Mobile devices have become an increasingly popular means of access. Technology innovations in the form of smartphones and tablets have dramatically changed the way we conduct our daily lives, both in business and personal settings. Because of this societal shift, tools [...]

31 Mar 2014

Ironside Tech Tip: Integrate with IBM Cognos

By | March 31st, 2014|Categories: Business Intelligence, Strategy & Innovation, Tech Tip|Tags: , , , , , , |, most commonly implemented for its customer relationship management (CRM) platform, is a well-known industry leader in client relationship management as well as social performance management, sales performance management, and other areas. The IBM Cognos enterprise combined with Salesforce data can help your organization build a single view of your business and create reports, dashboards, [...]

2 Apr 2013

Ironside Tech Tip: Dynamic Default Prompts Done Right

By | April 2nd, 2013|Categories: Business Intelligence, Report Studio Cookbook, Tech Tip|Tags: , , , |

Set Dynamic Default Prompts Using the New JavaScript Prompt API in IBM Cognos 10.2 Continuing with our Report Studio Cookbook series, today we will look at the new Report Studio JavaScript prompt API available in IBM Cognos 10.2. Since the very first release of the web based Report Studio, report authors have been asked often to use JavaScript in a report to achieve some common web application functionality, such as dynamically show/hide certain objects on page based on a user’s selection or changing a page’s color theme by data values. Ironside has published several articles illustrating how to use JavaScript in Report Studio; however undocumented JavaScript APIs and difficulties in migrating JavaScript after a Cognos upgrade have prevented many report developers from exploring this area. […]

5 Jun 2012

Automating Cube Build in IBM Cognos Transformer 10

By | June 5th, 2012|Categories: Modeling, Newsletter, Proven Practices|Tags: , , , , |

IBM Cognos PowerPlay cubes are one of the most widely used OLAP data sources in the IBM Cognos environment. Typically, a PowerCube contains calculated and aggregated data that is organized as dimensions and measures, which can be viewed and analyzed in PowerPlay or Cognos BI (versions 8 or 10). Easy to use and fast access to pre-calculated summary data provides users with the ability to perform quick analysis. Since data stored in an IBM Cognos PowerCube is static, building a PowerCube naturally becomes a repetitive process. Often times cube data is refreshed on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Depending on data volume and the number of dimensions and measures in the cube, the build process can sometimes take hours to complete. In order to ensure the most benefit from the cube, having a scheduled and automated cube build is essential. As many of you know, automated cube building can be easily achieved using Transformer command line options along with a scripting language of your choice. However, prior to the IBM Cognos 8.4 release, deploying the newly refreshed cube file wasn’t an easy process. It relied on an external utility to update your IBM Cognos data source connections to use the newly built cube. Today, I will show you a much easier approach that leverages new features in Transformer 10 to enable automated cube building and deployment with just a few easy steps. […]

17 Oct 2011

Embed Google Maps in IBM Cognos Reports

By | October 17th, 2011|Categories: Development, Proven Practices, Reporting|Tags: , , |

IBM Cognos has a built-in map functionality that provides great visualization. With multiple layers on each map you can display data at different levels and even create drill throughs to other reports. It is a nice feature to visually present your data. However, everything has its limitations. There are some rich map features that IBM Cognos maps may not be able to provide; such as adding additional content dynamically onto the map, searching, on-demand zoom in/out, actual location, overlays, better mobile device support, etc.  Google Maps is one of the leading online free map services that many web users like you are using daily. Today, with globalization of business many companies have offices all over the world. So it becomes a very natural request from your business users: can we put our business data on Google Maps so that we can easily see how our branch offices perform globally? Or in other words, can we place Google Maps inside our Cognos reports? Before we get to the answer, let’s first take a look whether this is even a technical possibility. […]

27 Sep 2011

IBM Cognos and JavaScript – Part II

By | September 27th, 2011|Categories: Development, Newsletter, Proven Practices, Reporting|Tags: , , |

In the previous JavaScript article, we spent some time learning about JavaScript and web page basics. We completed a couple of simple examples on how to insert JavaScript into an IBM Cognos report in Report Studio. Today let’s continue our journey. Note: All information and examples are specifically designed for IBM Cognos 10 Report Studio based reports. It is assumed that the reader is familiar with Cognos Report Studio.   For more information about JavaScript and the HTML language basics please go to and other available web based tutorials.     Code development environment: IBM Cognos 10.1 FP1 , single server, IE 8   5 – Reaching a Prompt Element Obviously, in order to use JavaScript to modify or manipulate an element on a web page, you first need to reach or find the element you want to edit. As I mentioned in section 3 in the previous article, Cognos prompt pages and report pages are dynamically generated web pages. Prompts placed in Cognos reports are designed to take user inputs and submit requests to a web server. Like many other web pages a <Form> element is embedded on the page in order to accept user’s input. As you can imagine, all prompts elements are tied to this intake form. This allows us to easily access any prompt element once we find the form. […]

29 Aug 2011

IBM Cognos 10 Upgrade Planning

By | August 29th, 2011|Categories: Infrastructure, Newsletter, Proven Practices|Tags: , , |

Since IBM Cognos 10 was released last winter, upgrading has become a very hot topic among the Cognos user community. Why upgrade? There are many reasons: new features and functionalities, easier to use, better performance and more. Cognos 10 will not only serve your business better but also deliver a revolutionary new experience as well as expand traditional business intelligence with planning, scenario modeling, real-time monitoring and predictive analytics in one place. Here are some eye-catching new features: […]

25 Jul 2011

IBM Cognos and JavaScript – Part I

By | July 25th, 2011|Categories: Development, Proven Practices, Reporting|Tags: , , |

Creating JavaScript solutions in Cognos reports to enhance the out-of-box capabilities of the tool may seem like a daunting task to many Cognos report developers. As a seasoned Cognos developer I can understand this trepidation and it is true that unlike using the Report Studio tool to build professional reports, writing JavaScript code is not for everyone. Despite the difficulty of using APIs and developing JavaScript applications in Report Studio, there is business value in using JavaScript to reverse engineer aspects of the Cognos Viewer in certain circumstances. For instance, embedding a Google map in a report or providing the ability to show and hide particular objects in a report. So the obvious question becomes: How do I write JavaScript code with little or no programming experience? Read on to find out! […]

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