Tag Archive for: TM1

IBM Cognos Insight

In March of 2012, IBM released IBM Cognos Insight to the public, a new approach to providing a solution that addresses data discovery from a personal analytics perspective.  Before we go any further, let’s stop and clarify what exactly we’re talking about. This application is NOT to be confused with “IBM Cognos Business Insight” (IBM’s name for its Unified Workspace in IBM Cognos BI 10) or “Cognos Consumer Insight” (IBM’s name for its social media analytics solution to capture sentiment).

Cognos Insight Comments

Ironside actively participated in the beta rollout of this product and was one of the first business partners to bring awareness to the general community by hosting a roadshow in various Southeast cities.  Customers that attended were unanimous in their positive feedback.  A sample of some of the comments overheard:

  • “One of the best 1.0 product releases I’ve seen IBM put out.”
  • “Drag and drop of Excel file to create a dashboard in less than sixty seconds is impressive…do that again.”
  • “The warning message when you try to bring in more than 10 dimensions is a bit harsh.” (My personal favorite)

One of the most commonly asked questions during this roadshow was “Why did IBM invest and release this solution” that quite frankly, has some overlapping BI capabilities with Cognos 10 BI?  I believe the main reason was to allow access to BI information for anyone at any time.  There are still plenty of companies we speak with that do not have a BI solution, and are still immersed in the Excel spreadsheet world.  The IBM Cognos Insight solution provides a great initial foray into the BI arena and offers a solution that companies can grow into.  The best part about IBM Cognos Insight is that it is priced right at only $500 per user license, and it is a desktop solution (think limited IT involvement, if any).  Given the recent Nucleus study that concluded for every $1 invested in business analytics, it returns $10.66 on average, that’s a steal.  The other main reason in my opinion was to address some of the niche vendor capabilities that IBM Cognos BI was not able to easily provide. With IBM Cognos Insight, IBM can now help BI power users who want more self-service and personal analytics capabilities, bypassing IT bottlenecks.

IBM Cognos Insight Feedback

As we’ve begun to introduce this application to the user community, several use cases have been mentioned by customers that would provide immediate value.  Here are a few examples to get the wheels turning:

1) Data Discovery – IBM Cognos Insight can import multiple data sources from common databases, Cognos reports and Excel to help you explore, visualize and analyze your data.  I think of it as helping you transform your data into useable information so your organization can take action to improve decision making, drive better results, etc.  I believe this has a huge side benefit of increasing BI user adoption since business users will take greater ownership in creating BI.

2) What-if/Scenario Modeling – IBM Cognos Insight leverages IBM’s in-memory OLAP cube technology (TM1), on the back-end.  This allows customers to easily create dimensions to slice and dice data in various ways, perform what-if analysis leveraging built in spread and allocation options, etc.  Given the uncertain world we live in, companies that can easily plan multiple scenarios and quickly put different plans into action to respond to constant change will outperform its peers.

3) Budget, Planning, Forecasting and Financial reporting “Light” – Since TM1 is on the back-end, you can leverage its capabilities to perform these traditional finance functions.  In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that in order to publish the cubes and reports for broader audience consumption outside of the IBM Cognos Insight tool, it will be necessary to purchase a TM1 IBM Cognos Analytic Server license.


My Parting Thoughts on IBM Cognos Insight

We understand that the release schedule of Cognos Insight will be more frequent than Cognos BI enterprise releases.  Existing IBM Cognos BI Advanced Business Author (and higher) license roles and Cognos TM1 Contributor license roles are entitled to use IBM Cognos Insight, so download it and share your feedback.  As far as my personal first impression, I’m blown away at the Insight Community portal IBM built to support this product.  There is excellent information; from getting started guides, to advanced techniques and even business accelerators.   Check it out at https://www.analyticszone.com/homepage/web/displayHomePage.action.  Let us know what your thoughts are on the Cognos Insight product and as always don’t hesitate to ask us any questions.

On February 7, 2012, IBM Cognos released the newest version of TM1: TM1 10.1. TM1 has been around for a very long time but has really only recently come to be recognized as the premier planning tool for any size business.

Its only criticism was that unlike its sibling Enterprise Planning (EP)  it was not an “out of the box” solution that the finance department could run independent of its own IT department.  In fact, it gave rise to a somewhat symbiotic relationship between IT and Finance because of the scripting involved in applying rules to a cube and importing data through a Turbo Integrator or manually coded process. That said, I believe all this has changed with this release (10.1) of TM1. Read more

Cognos Insight has many potential business uses.  One of these is the ability to rapidly prototype a report or planning scenario by comparing a report from Cognos Connection with an external Excel or CSV file.  This particular example will walk us through the steps to import and compare an Excel budget scenario with Sales data from a Report Studio list report.

The first step is to begin with a new ‘workspace’ in Insight.

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What are the IBM Cognos TM1 Integration Points?

IBM Cognos TM1 is fast becoming a critical component of the IBM business analytics suite of offerings. As the application becomes more prevalent in the industry, we are seeing more and more customers inquiring about the integration points between IBM Cognos TM1 and the IBM Cognos BI suite of tools. There are six common integration points between TM1 9.5.2 and IBM Cognos BI:

-IBM Cognos BI Security
-Utilization of previously developed TM1 Web content within the Cognos Connection interface through TM1 Portlets
-TM1 cubes as a data source within the IBM Cognos BI environment
-TM1 Widgets
-TM1 cubes as a source within the IBM Cognos BIA studio
-IBM Cognos TM1 Package Connector to access IBM Cognos Framework Manager packages

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Inter-cube Feeders

In my previous month’s article on “Managing the Art of Feeders”, we reviewed the concept of using Skipcheck and Feeder functionality in standard TM1 rules. In this month’s article, we will discuss further enhancing a developer’s capability around writing rules within TM1 and review the concept of inter-cube feeders. While much of the functionality and capability found within TM1 rules is necessary to provide the desired end user result set, that does not mean that a developer should simple assume that all functionality is created equal. Inter-cube feeders, while often necessary, can have a significant impact on overall performance which should be taken into consideration before inclusion in a rule. Read more

TM1 Cube SolutionsWhen you first begin to use TM1, especially if you came from the EP world as I did, you can quickly become enamored with how well TM1 can handle large cubes with ease. You can create multiple hierarchies within a cube and within those hierarchies TM1’s sparse consolidation algorithm aggregates values at light speed. You can reach out to virtually any data source with a Turbo Integrator (TI) process and create a dimension, create and populate a cube with data, or a myriad of other tasks only limited by the developer’s imagination. The challenge comes when you need to write rules governing more complex calculations or movement of data between cubes. No intuitive D-Links or BiF’s here. Everything must be coded, and getting the calculations to work properly requires mastering the art of feeders. Read more

In September, IBM introduced Cognos version 10.1.1, the latest update to Cognos 10. Among the significant enhancements in the software is the ability to Dynamic Query Mode with relational databases.

Dynamic Query Mode (DQM) is an intelligent data caching mechanism which can dramatically improve the performance of OLAP style queries. With the prior version, DQM supported cubes built from TM1, Essbase and SAP BW. With version 10.1.1, IBM Cognos adds support for Microsoft SQL Server Analysis cubes, and the most common relational databases, specifically DB2, Netezza, SQL Server, Teradata and Oracle. Read more

As many of you know, TM1 has become a major component of the IBM Cognos BI application offerings. As a corporate OLAP solution, there are a number of advantages to utilizing TM1 versus PowerPlay; from faster response times in larger cubes to the capability to handle vast volumes of data. The expectation of course is that the application will work within the IBM Cognos BI infrastructure, specifically within the user facing studios that make Cognos a best of breed solution. While this is true in most aspects, there are a couple of “work arounds” that must be implemented in order to optimize the user experience with TM1 as an MDX based data source.

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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. Read more