TM1 – The Mystery Unveiled

Just about two years ago, before Cognos was acquired by IBM, Cognos did some acquiring of its own. Cognos purchased Applix and its flagship product, TM1. With the subsequent news regarding Cognos’ acquisition, TM1 and its integration into the Cognos suite of products became a minor press release. That’s about to change.

As industry analysts look at the emerging BI landscape, two common themes keep appearing:
1. Organizations recognize the value of increasing their use of Performance Planning.
2. Speed and virtually real time data access is becoming crucial to maintaining an organizations competitive advantage.

Not only will TM1 provide the technology to address these issues, but it will open up a whole new world of BI for your organization.

IBM Cognos TM1 is an in-memory MOLAP (Multidimensional Online Analytical Processing) database server most often used to implement collaborative planning, budgeting and forecasting solutions, as well as analytical and reporting applications. The technology is similar to PowerPlay (if you are an existing Cognos user) but with some VERY noticeable differences. First of all, TM1 supports “write-back” capability which enables users to edit values through a myriad of customer facing applications and modify values contained in the cube. This is what makes TM1 the ideal fit for planning and forecasting types of applications. Add plans or forecasts to a scenario dimension, and you’re off and running with Plan vs. Actual comparisons. It’s also great for “What-If” analysis, making it easy to examine complex changes while making adjustments for factors such as interest rates, fuel prices or exchange rates, not to mention ever-changing sales forecasts.

That’s not the only difference. TM1 is an “in-memory” 64 bit database. That means it’s extremely fast all the while supporting a large number of dimensions with an enormous number of members. Recently, 2 competitor cubes taking 8 and 2 hours respectively to build, were replaced with a single TM1 cube which built in 1 hour. Did I mention that it was fast? The competitor required 2 cubes because it couldn’t handle both the daily detail and the two year history in single cube, TM1 handled two years of daily details, and loaded in a fraction of the time.

TM1 has quite a number of other features as well:

  • The ability to create or modify subsets or views of the data on the fly, which allows for custom groupings of members.
  • Rules based calculations, for complex calculations.
  • The application is server based, for large-scale implimentations.
  • Values updated are immediately available to all users.

New products? Rearranged sales territories? Workforce realignment? No problem.

While TM1 includes an Excel and a web interface, it also can serve as a data source for Cognos 8. This opens up possibilities for using Report, Analysis, and Query Studios, and all the capabilities within those tools.

This is not a complete list of features by any means, but you can get the picture. Suddenly, there is a game-changing technology easily available for use as a multi-dimensional cube or even a reporting data mart. User requirements and functionality that once prevented the use of an OLAP application can now take full advantage of the speed and convenience of cube technology.