Cognos Insight & Personal Analytics
Exciting news! The latest member of the IBM Cognos family of business analytics solutions IBM Cognos Insight is here. This solution will provide business users with analytical freedom while allowing IT to maintain proper control. Some of you have might have already seen a demo. The purpose of this post is to give you a really quick overview of Cognos Insight. Please keep in mind, though, that this post won’t cover all the exciting things you can do with this new solution. Check back for follow-up posts later this month.
Cognos Insight sits on the desktop
Cognos Insight is a desktop tool that allows you to do a lot of things: data exploration, analysis, what-if scenarios, planning, forecasting, dashboarding, prototyping, etc.. You download it and install it on your Windows machine. Having the software on your desktop provides you with the advantage of being able to work in a disconnected and connected mode while leveraging the full power of your machine. Speaking of power and speed - Cognos Insight runs in-memory. The product is based on the highly successful IBM Cognos TM1 engine. When you first open it up, you will see the desktop that invites you to create a new workspace or to open up existing applications.
Work with data
Let’s do some work. You can easily load data into the tool. Cognos Insight allows you to work with two different types of data sources: external data (spreadsheets, csv or text files) and corporate sanctioned data from your trusted Cognos 10 environment or any ODBC data source. It’s important to have both: While we should leverage as much of our corporate data as possible, we often find ourselves in a position where we do have to work with additional external data. And importing that data couldn’t be any easier: you simply drag a file into the workspace. The tool will then analyze the data and create a multi-dimensional view. This process is really snappy. It’s that simple. And now you can start working with your information: you pivot the data by dragging and dropping dimensions, you can visualize and much more.
Corporate Data Sources
Working with external data is nice. But it’s better to leverage trusted corporate sources from an existing Cognos 10 environment. Provided you have the appropriate security, you can quickly import data. See the image below.
So far so goo, but what can you do with Cognos Insight? Let’s start with some analysis. You can do various things: swap dimensions (slice-and-dice), visualize and explore. And all this happens lightening fast (remember: in-memory).
Exploring your data is really easy: just drag one more dimensions out of the pane and start clicking on the specific members in that little area. The views are updated instantaneously.
You can also perform quick calculations or comparison of data. Simply highlight two rows, right click and select the appropriate command. This will insert a traffic light row (you can configure the thresholds).
Clicking on Compare will insert a new line:
Changing chart-types is just as easy. There first release features a library of highly functional graphs.
Write-back offers a lot of opportunity
So far so good. But here is the really cool thing about Cognos Insight: Write-back capabilities. Instead of just analyzing data, you can also add data elements. Why is that important? It allows you to perform what-if analysis, develop planning and forecasting models, prototyping, etc.. There is so much you can do. This is by far my favorite benefit of the software. And for those of you who use TM1 today, you will be happy to find out that the great work in Cognos Insight can be leveraged directly in TM1. More about that in a later post.
Write-back in action
Let’s say, we wanted to perform a quick what-if analysis. A right click on one of the dimensions allows me to insert a new member and to start creating data. It’s as easy as that! In the example below, I am adding a new plant to develop a high-level plan.
And by the way, entering data is really smooth and fast. There are a lot of shortcuts, for example. Look at the example below. A simple g15 (grow by 15%) allows me to populate the entire fiscal year.
Write back capabilities are not only great for enhancing your analysis, but they also allow you to develop real planning and forecasting models on the fly. Developing prototypes or small applications is really quick and fun.
Sharing and Publishing
IT departments often struggle with securing data. The great thing about Cognos Insight is that you can share and publish your work. Sharing allows you to let colleagues access your work through the Cognos 10 portal. Security will automatically be applied. Publishing allows IT to leverage the work that you have done by further enhancing the applications and by applying additional security. More about that later.
There is so much more
Cognos Insight is really cool and powerful. This is a desktop tool that will significantly increase your productivity while also allowing IT to maintain and implement proper controls. I hope that this short post provides you with an overview. Keep in mind, there is a lot more you can do with the software. But covering all the important aspects would require many more pages. Please check back in a few days to learn more.
Existing customers can download Cognos Insight from the IBM support page.