An Overview of IBM Cognos ICM Version 8.1.0

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Version 8.1.0 of IBM Cognos ICM, formerly Varicent, was released on Friday May 16th. It has become common practice to have approximately two major releases each year and several smaller releases between them. Updates roll out as needed between releases. The most important fact to remember is that the product is continuously improving to meet client needs. Enhancements start from two primary sources: implementers and business users requesting a product enhancement.

The last 12-18 months have seen several game-changers appear in the SPM space, and this latest release builds upon these great new features. Workflow Manager and Editable Presenter Reports are two major changes that continually get enriched with each release. Some of the other improvements included in this release are detailed below.

Data Purging

Purging data has been a constant need over the years. In the past, an organization would have to engage the development team to assist in purging history. In ICM, every time a record is inserted into a table or updated a history is saved. This is a tremendous strength for auditing purposes; however history tables could be sizable depending on your import frequency and the amount of records imported. Purging of tables was available natively starting in version 8.0.4 (January 24, 2014). Included was the ability to set security around the purging of history and scheduling of history purging.

IBM ICM 8.1 change details
The screen shot above shows the details that would be removed for history in any selected table. There are options to use varying time frames. IBM Cognos ICM 8.1 allows the purging of data tables and calculations associated with a specific Calendar. This not only cleans up past history, but also fixes calculation results through the specified period, regardless of whether or not it is locked. If the period is not locked, you would have to reload data to get corresponding results.

IBM ICM 8.1 purge periods

Two immediate benefits are apparent in this update: it reduces the size of your model and increases overall performance. As always, results may vary depending on any particular model.


Several Presenter updates have been made. These changes have two themes: easing the process of making quality reports and improving user experience.

  • Freeze Headers in Presenter Report – This enhances user experience when drilling through to transactions details. The header remains as you scroll down. This option appears in step 4 of the data grid wizard.
  • Multiple Computed Columns – This feature is great for reducing the effort required to create complex reports with dynamic calculations. There is no listed limit. In step 3 of the data grid wizard, simply right-click and add as many columns as needed. Their order can be changed after creation.
  • Multiple Reports in One PDF – Now users, specifically those with client software access, can pull a report for multiple users into one PDF versus saving each report individually. An example use case would be putting all Goal sheets in one PDF for a territory or manager.

Other Improvements

Speed – Calculation performance has always been important. IBM Cognos ICM 8.1 has made improvements in speed specifically around user-defined calculations with time accumulation.

ICM Premium – This solution uses PureData Systems (Netezza) for increased performance. When PureData is tied to SQL Server, ICM runs faster and processes complex data and queries more efficiently. This solution is designed for those with large amounts of transactions to process.

Workflow Manager –Additional enhancements are getting added in each release. One example is the added functionality for creating an action node over the past two releases. In 8.0.4 a required by all option was added and in 8.1 a submit by all option was added. These features allow for more complex processes to be automated.

After some discussion with others in the industry, more and more Cognos ICM users are adopting and implementing new features sooner. Please reach out and share what new features you use or like the most. You can also check out our Sales Performance Management team page for more ICM resources.

IBM Cognos ICM 8.0.4 Release Notes: View Here
IBM Cognos ICM 8.1.0 Release Notes: View Here